NAS North Island Draft Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan Published - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado City News

NAS North Island Draft Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan Published

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Posted: Friday, January 24, 2020 10:37 am

On paper at least, the U.S. Defense Department’s concept of having an empty land area situated between a military base and residential housing is a sound one. But in the case of the City of Coronado and Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI) that ship sailed long ago. The modern history of Coronado dates from 1886 and includes the construction of the Hotel Del Coronado, which opened in February 1888. The U.S. Navy came along at North Island in September 1917 and in the intervening 29 years, development of residential housing on the Coastline went right up to the doorstep of the Birthplace of Naval Aviation. A significant land buffer between civilians and the military was essentially gone before the Navy developed NASNI.

The fact Coronado didn’t fit the typical land use model didn’t deter the state of California from mandating that all airports in the state must prepare Airport Land Use Compatibility Plans (ALUCPs). In the case of NASNI and Coronado, the document has been prepared by the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (SDCRAA). According to a letter written by Rich Grunow, Director of Coronado’s Community Development Department to the SDCRAA requesting an additional 30 days to compile the city’s response to the ALUCP, the original draft version of the plan made public in Fall 2017 was 35 pages. The current version is 44 pages and contains two additional volumes of technical appendices.

The unfortunate fact is if you own a home or property which falls in either the Clear Zone located immediately adjacent to NASNI, or one of 1,000 homes within either Accident Potential Zones (APZ) I or II, your property rights will be significantly diminished by the proposed ALUCP. According to City Manager Blair King’s weekly online communique the limitations would include, “Limits on height, density, allowable land uses, a prohibition of new subdivisions, and requirements for noise attenuation measures in new construction.” The Accident Potential Zones as they relate to residential housing run from the Pacific Coast inward to Tenth Street and they proceed in a southernly, curving direction that starts with NASNI’s back entrance and includes most of the Hotel Del Coronado and a majority portion of the Coronado Shores.

Specifically, alterations to existing residential units must include the following characteristics if they are to be exempt from Airport Land Use Commission (ALUC) review:

Repair, maintenance, and remodeling of an existing residential dwelling unit with no increase in height and without the addition of another dwelling unit.

Reconstruction of less than 50 percent of the existing habitable space of the residential dwelling unit with no increase in height and without the addition of another dwelling unit.

Expansion/addition of less than 50 percent of the existing habitable space of the residential dwelling unit with no increase in the height and without the addition of another dwelling unit.

Since these are governmental entities involved in this issue, we’re about to get waist-deep in acronyms, so hang on. During an interview last week, King said the following of the ALUCP process, “The expectation from the SDCRAA is the city will amend its General Plan and zoning. Because of other considerations, now is not the time to amend the General Plan.”

That statement was a reference to the other major legal challenge facing the city of Coronado currently, the San Diego Area Governments (SANDAG) determination the city must construct 1,001 very low, low, moderate and above moderate income housing units between 2021-2029. The two legal challenges Coronado currently faces are likely intertwined. Also, revising the City’s General Plan eventually requires input and approval from the California Coastal Commission, an oversight process no one wants to contend with.

King discussed the recent history of the ALUCP and the immediate future. “Assuming we are getting the 30-day extension, we are reviewing the CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) document and the draft EIR (Environmental Impact Report). We’re notifying people we have a ALUCP and this is an opportunity for interested parties to review the Draft. This is the Airport Land Use Commission’s document. The underlying document is the AICUZ (Air Installations Compatible Use Zones) study prepared by the Navy, which is an advisory document with no force of law. The state of California has made it something different. There was one AICUZ in 1984 and one in 2011. The data the 2011 AICUZ was based upon is dated, and we have an ALUCP with a dated lifespan. And we’re going to be going through this again. If the Navy decides to use louder equipment, the noise contours will change. The ALUC is also the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, and they will be required to respond to the public comments in the Final EIR. The Coronado City Council could determine options to pursue the adequacy of the document in court. Once the final EIR is approved, the door is open to sue on the EIR. We’ll submit our comments, look at the ALUC’s response to the comments, and make an independent judgement if they respond to the issues in our letter. As an example, if you built an interior ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) you would need 100 percent sound attenuation of the interior and the remaining portion of the house. Modifications to historic homes in the Clear Zone and APZ Zones I and II will become difficult.”

And there is the possibility that the value of some of the most historic and expensive homes in Coronado may decline. King said, “If I am looking to buy a piece of property in Coronado, would you buy something outside of these regulations or inside? That would probably affect the decision-making of the home buyer and they could eventually depress the value of properties covered by the ALUCP. We want to make sure property owners are aware of this.”

A flow chart outlining the ALUC process is three-pages long and includes notations ‘ALUC Review Period 30 Calendar Days,’ and ‘ALUC Consistency Review Period 60 Calendar Days.’ If things go well and the ALUC staff deems an application to be complete, add a minimum of 90 days to your building timeline.

There is also the strong likelihood the ALUCP would prohibit historic homes located on Ocean Boulevard from being converted to other uses. As an example, a home might need to be converted to another use to generate enough revenue to keep the home in good repair, such as creating a bed-and-breakfast operation. The ALUCP as currently written wouldn’t permit that concept, as the issue is outside of City control. 

“Contrary to what people say, there will be an extra level of government,” King noted. “It will be more difficult to get permits to remodel. They will have to come either directly through the ALUC or you will have a permit process through the City of Coronado, with the concurrence of the ALUC. The public we deal with feel even the most efficient governmental review creates problems.”

Residences and businesses located outside of the Clear Zone and APZ Zones I and II won’t have to interact with the ALUC, but there might be other consequences according to King. “Well again its reduction. Coronado wouldn’t elect the ALUC and the impact of voters making land use decisions over their property is reduced. There are no in-place land use regulations.”

There is enough material in the Draft ALUCP to make you wonder how the plan got this far. As King said, “The premise they are trying to prevent encroachment (next to NASNI) doesn’t fit the Coronado model. The city was laid out in 1887 and we have been consistent in our land use. That’s the situation. A lot has changed. Lt. Theodore Ellyson’s bi-plane flown in January 1911 wasn’t that loud.”

If you would like to read the Draft ALUCP, here are directions from the City’s website how to accomplish that and also where to send your comments on the ALUCP. “We encourage you as an affected property owner to review and comment on the EIR by Feb. 7, 2020. The EIR can be found online at www.san.org/nasni as well as at the Coronado Library at 640 Orange Avenue.

Comments should be addressed to the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, Attn: Ralph Redman. Comments can be submitted by:

Mail to the Authority offices at SDCRAA, P.O. Box 82776, San Diego, CA 92138-2776. Those comments must be postmarked by Friday, Feb. 7, 2020.

Hand deliver to the Authority offices at San Diego International Airport, 3225 North Harbor Drive, 3rd Floor, San Diego, CA 92101 by 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, 2020.

E-mail the Authority offices at alucpcomments@san.org. The Airport Authority will accept comments on this notice via E-mail received by 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, 2020.

And if you go to the san.org/nasni website, you’ll discover a smidgen of good news on this subject. “The ALUC does not issue or deny development permits, but rather makes determinations of consistency with the ALUCP for each project. The findings from the ALUC’s determination can either be accepted or overruled by the local agency (City of Coronado). In fact, a local agency can accept, reject in part or reject in entirety the ALUCP.”

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