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McClellan-Palomar Airport

McLellan-Palomar Airport is owned and operated by the County of San Diego. The County Board of Supervisors recently approved a master plan to guide future development of the airport, within the existing airport site. This property is also owned by the County of San Diego.

The master plan outlines a number of projects to improve the safety and efficiency of the airport. A timeline for these projects will not be established until they are funded, and funding has not yet been identified.

City-County Agreement

On March 27, 2019, the City of Carlsbad and County of San Diego announced a 20-year agreement that will provide a framework to work together on matters related to McClellan-Palomar Airport. The agreement is part of a legal settlement resolving the City of Carlsbad’s lawsuit against the county regarding the environmental impact report for the airport master plan approved last October.  Watch the report out from the closed session meeting and read a summary of the agreement.

What Led to the Agreement?

On Oct. 23, 2018, City Council met in closed session to discuss potential litigation regarding the airport master plan and environmental impact report. Following the closed session discussion, the City Attorney provided the following report.

“City Council met in closed session this morning with the City Attorney and outside counsel.  Counsel presented a lengthy list of actions that the city could take to ensure that San Diego County respects our residents and the city‘s rights with respect to the McClellan Palomar Airport. Among the options presented, the City Council chose the most aggressive approach and directed the lawyers to pursue a multi-pronged strategy to protect the city’s legal rights. The City Council directed the lawyers to file a legal challenge to the approval of the Master Plan and certification of the Program EIR unless the County agrees to extend the deadline for the city to file suit and also to pursue a creative and forceful strategy to supplement the litigation. Notwithstanding its decision, the City Council made it clear that the door is always open to a negotiated resolution, should the county change its approach to the city and its residents’ interests."

Based on this direction, city staff filed a lawsuit and began working with the county to identify opportunities for enhanced collaboration to address community concerns and interests. The agreement approved March 27, 2019, is the result of this effort.

Master Plan Background

At its meeting on Oct. 10, 2018, the County Board of Supervisors took the following actions related to the Airport Master Plan for McClellan-Palomar Airport:

  • Certified the final environmental document
  • Approved the McClellan-Palomar Airport Master Plan Update
  • Selected the D-III alternative design, which allows for a runway extension up to 800 feet 
  • Adopted findings for mitigation of significant environmental impacts
  • Adopted a statement of location and custodian of record
  • Adopted a decision and explanation regarding recirculation of the draft environmental document
  • Adopted a program for mitigation monitoring and reporting

The Board of Supervisors also directed County staff to return with an ordinance amending the appointment process for members of the Palomar Airport Advisory Committee to allow the Carlsbad City Council to submit a recommended appointee for consideration by the District 5 Supervisor.

The Board further directed County staff to work with the City of Carlsbad to strengthen the airport’s Voluntary Noise Abatement Program and to actively monitor complaints and enforce noise violations. City of Carlsbad staff prepared a memo summarizing the action taken by the County Board of Supervisors. Video of the Board of Supervisors hearing is available on the County of San Diego website. 

Prior to that in June and July 2018,  the County of San Diego recirculated portions of the environmental document for the Airport Master Plan based on input received during the initial release of the document for public review. The City of Carlsbad submitted comment letters on the original and recirculated portions of the Airport Master Plan environmental document:

Additionally, the Carlsbad City Council received a presentation at their Sept. 11, 2018 meeting from the law firm of Kaplan, Kirsch and Rockwell and directed staff to work with the County of San Diego to identify specific actions that will be taken to improve the working relationship between the county and the city, and to address community concerns regarding McClellan-Palomar Airport.

Related links

More information

For more information about the city's role in the airport master plan, please contact Jason Haber at 760-434-2958 or jason.haber@carlsbadca.gov.