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A conversation about Airport Land Use Planning – Part 1 of 2

[First of two parts.]

I am really excited about this posting, since it is being timed to coincide with the release, in draft form, of two important Airport Land Use Compatibility Planning (ALUCP) documents from the Airport Authority today.

What the heck is ALUCP, you ask? When the Airport Authority was created by the California State Legislature in 2003, it was given three specific functions under state law:

  • Operate San Diego International Airport.
  • Plan for the long-term air transportation needs of the San Diego region.
  • Serve as the Airport Land Use Commission for all civilian and military airports and airfields in San Diego County.
Did you know that, of our roughly 300 Airport Authority employees, we have only two full-time staff members who work exclusively on the third function? Meet Sandi and Ed (pictured above), two colleagues of mine in the Airport Planning Department. Their responsibilities include overseeing preparation of Airport Land Use Compatibility Plans — or ALUCP’s — which address land use around the county’s aviation facilities. These facilities are which are shown on this map (click on map to see it larger):

(Note: Tijuana International Airport is located across the border in Mexico and so is not under ALUC jurisdiction.)

With the ALUCP’s for Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton both being released today, I decided to sit down with Sandi and Ed for a lunch-time discussion on airport land use compatibility planning. We also touched on such topics as what it’s like having our offices in Terminal 2 (while most other Airport Authority employees work in the Commuter Terminal or adjacent West Wing) … and 24-hour buffets.

RYAN: In plain terms, what is an Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan?

  • SANDI: A plan that protects people on the ground and property…
  • ED: …Well, it’s a document.
  • SANDI: Yes, a document that protects people from excessive noise and still allows an airport to operate without major physical constraints.
  • ED: It has an impact on what gets built around an airport. So, basically, it addresses land uses around an airport. And folks can click on the handy link you’re gonna privide (above) to get the full scoop on what an ALUCP is.

RYAN: What criteria are used in developing plans? Is any one of the criteria more important than another?

  • SANDI: There are four criteria: noise, safety, airspace protection and overflight. None is the most important, but the potential impacts on land use are the greatest with safety and noise.
  • ED: The irony is that, in a safety zone, it isn’t safe; people shouldn’t be there.

RYAN: What role does public input play in the Airport Land Use Compatibility Planning process?

  • SANDI: It is crucial. The members of the public that have participated in the ALUC Technical Advisory Group (ATAG) and its sub-committees have provided comments on the ALUCP documents. All the input in the documents reflect these comments, which represent many of the needs of the community.
  • ED: You sound like a politician.
  • SANDI: What is funny is that I wanted to be a speechwriter when I was growing up. Well, this process is about reaching consensus, wouldn’t you agree, Ed?
  • ED: Huh? Sorry, I wasn’t listening. (chuckle)

RYAN: Ok, ok … So, are we the only county in California going through this process?

  • SANDI: No. There is a body designated as an Airport Land Use Commission (ALUC) in every county in the state. And they are all required to have Airport Land Use Compatibility Plans for every airport in their jurisdiction.
  • ED: I wonder what some of the other counties are doing …
  • SANDI: All are required to follow the California Airport Land Use Planning Handbook, but we are the only county doing it through a public participation process as comprehensive as ours. Riverside and Solano counties are both looking at the process we used here in San Diego.

RYAN: Since 2004, which of the airports in San Diego County have had their ALUCP’s updated?

  • SANDI: Six so far — the small airports of Agua Caliente, Fallbrook, Ocotillo, Jacumba, Borrego Valley and Ramona. We call them the “rural airports” because they are in less developed areas.

RYA: You are about to release, in draft form, two more plans for Camp Pendleton and Miramar. These will go before the Airport Land Use Commission for consideration later in 2008. Why do we do plans for the military bases in the county?

  • SANDI: We are legally required to prepare plans for all airports in the county, regardless of whether they are civilian or military.
  • ED: Because we are “World-Class,” obviously.
  • SANDI: Neither of the Navy air installations in the county — Naval Air Station North Island and Naval Outlying Field Imperial Beach — have plans yet, but we are working to fix that.

That’s the first half of my interview with Sandi and Ed. Stay tuned for the second half tomorrow!


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