Thursday, March 01, 2018

Commentary: Citizens deserve vote on McClellan-Palomar Airport (KCRQ) changes


San Diego County’s proposed expansion of McClellan-Palomar Airport (Palomar Airport) has raised many concerns for local residents as it bypasses legal documents guaranteeing Carlsbad citizens a vote on any airport expansions.

Carlsbad’s Municipal Code 21.53.015 (1980) was established by foresighted citizens who predicted an expansion of the Palomar Airport. The city also approved a Conditional Use Permit (CUP172) which allows specific permitted uses.

The county states in the proposed Palomar Airport Master Plan that there is no construction planned to “expand the airport boundaries,” and a vote is not needed. The county is attempting to usurp Carlsbad’s authority to interpret its own municipal code by using “extension” rather than “expansion” to prevent Carlsbad citizens from voting.

The county doesn’t have to abide by Carlsbad’s vote according to legal experts. However, statements in the county’s own past documents, website and definitions by the Land Use Compatibility Plan (LUCP) define these proposed changes as an “expansion.” And officials are claiming that they need an expansion for safety reasons.

County-owned Palomar Airport is located completely within the city of Carlsbad, at one of our busiest intersections. The proposal is to move the runway 123 feet north, lengthen the runway up to 900 feet east toward El Camino Real, over a landfill considered unstable ground.

Increased noise levels due to the expanded runway, increased airport activity and newly routed landing patterns will affect everyone in North County. Palomar Airport, according to the FAA, has strict rules for all commercial passenger airlines allowing them to operate when the tower is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. All other aircraft are regulated by a Voluntary Noise Abatement Program which allows pilots of private planes to operate 24/7. There are strict regulations concerning altitudes, but when preparing to land, planes may fly at any safe altitude resulting in lower flying aircraft over our homes. Some pilots choose not to obey established flight patterns. The expanded airport would mainly benefit private corporate aircraft.

The county claims the expanded airport would be “quieter” due to the larger, modern private jets. To make it profitable, there would be many more flights though-all which operate 24/7. The runway would expand from 4,897 feet to , feet, only 4 feet shorter than John Wayne Airport.

Planes will be allowed to fill their fuel tanks to capacity, which increases weight, requiring more thrust for takeoff, therefore more noise 24/7. Increased decibel levels will affect anyone in the vicinity of the airport. Ground-level noise monitors have been removed from north Carlsbad (north of Palomar Airport Road) thereby making it unclear how noise levels are measured in that region, or how data in the proposed master plan is reliable. How conclusive are summaries indicating that noise levels are below a certain threshold, if there is no monitoring? Further, noise complaints are recorded by the county with no resulting action.

Expanded operations at the airport will include increased vehicle traffic to an area that is already congested. The county’s proposed plan has not incorporated expected increases in traffic due to future housing and commercial developments at the intersection of Palomar Airport Road and El Camino Real. With the addition of airport traffic including rental car agencies, gridlock is imminent.

County staff state the airport expansion is needed for safety reasons. Palomar Airport, classified B-II, allows larger corporate aircraft (classified C-III or D-III), to access the airport. The county states an expansion is necessary for these C-III and D-III jets and the expansion is required to allow these jets to fly farther without stopping to refuel. These aircraft are too large for Palomar Airport as it is now! The county wants to spend taxpayer dollars to accommodate private C-III and D-III aircraft already using our Class B-II airport.

Palomar Airport already has commercial passenger flights, so a longer runway is not needed for the community’s needs. The airport is safe now, according to legal experts, otherwise it would not be approved to operate. If expanded, the runway would be lengthened up to 900 feet toward El Camino Real resulting in planes flying lower over our roads and over an unsafe landfill.

The expansion would only favor private corporate/special interests and not affect the community’s ability to fly as passengers. Any expansion will affect not only Carlsbad residents, but citizens of San Marcos, Vista and Oceanside who have voiced their concerns. All of us will be affected! Our quality of life, our health and our community values are at stake. We want a voice!

Wright is a longtime Carlsbad resident. For more information on the topic see and Facebook Citizens for a Friendly Airport.

Original article ➤

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