Carlsbad, Calif., Residents Campaign to Lower Airport Noise

Friday, September 17, 2004
Carlsbad, Calif., Residents Campaign to Lower Airport Noise
The North County (CA) Times

CARLSBAD, Calif. — About two dozen residents who live near McClellan-Palomar Airport lobbied an airport advisory board Thursday for more controls on plane traffic, saying the noise problem is so bad it sounds like jets are landing in their bedrooms. As the residents campaigned for air traffic improvements, the advisory board struggled with another controversy — whether to send a message to the county Board of Supervisors saying a planned airport remodeling effort ought to be delayed until a complaint against the project is resolved.

Palomar Airport Advisory Committee board member Robert Fuselier put a motion before the group, saying the county shouldn’t let the developer proceed with the $30 million remodeling project until the complaint filed last month with the Federal Aviation Administration is resolved.

The complaint was filed by a group of pilots who face eviction because of the construction project.

Fuselier’s motion failed to win passage. Chairwoman Ramona Finnila said the board shouldn’t even talk about the issue because the project is the subject of legal action.

After Fuselier’s motion failed, people supporting the pilots approached the residents with the noise concerns, telling them that if the construction project proceeds there will be more jets and more noise at Palomar. County officials hotly contested that claim.

The residents said they hadn’t come to Wednesday’s meeting to fight with airport officials, stressing that they just wanted the airport to do a better job of keeping the noise down.

“We’re not here to be negative, we’re here to be positive,” said one of the group’s unofficial leaders, Gail Carroll, as she started reading a list of recommendations to improve the situation. “If the pilots would just follow what the recommended (flight) pattern is … we wouldn’t be here tonight.”

Changes they sought included:

  • Upgrading the signs and the automated radio messages that tell pilots how to take off from Palomar.
  • Installing radar to monitor plane speeds and altitudes.
  • Mandating pilots follow prescribed departure paths.

    Finnila told the residents they were raising issues that come up every few years and urged them to do their homework. The FAA won’t allow Palomar to install a nighttime curfew; the airport is already studying noise issues; and there are rules about where the planes can fly, she said.

    A pilot who uses the airport, Paul Breed of Solana Beach, said pilots try to stick to the advised flight routes around the airport, but the place gets so much air traffic on weekends that air traffic controllers send approaching and departing planes over residential neighborhoods.

    He said the residents’ request to have planes climb rapidly during take-offs could increase noise problems.

    “Be careful that what you ask for doesn’t make it worse,” he told the residents.