McClellan-Palomar Airport Master Plan


The 2015-2035 McClellan-Palomar Airport Master Plan provides a comprehensive approach to strategic planning for the airport’s facilities and services. It is intended to develop a framework for the future of McClellan-Palomar Airport within the context of local, regional, and national aviation system environments.

This new Master Plan identifies and assesses a range of development alternatives for meeting the Airport’s forecast, facility, safety, and operational requirements for the next planning period. The focus will be on developing a plan of action that is demand driven, can adjust to the changing dynamics of the surrounding environment, and is reasonable and justifiable. The Master Plan will consider many factors including market trends, land use opportunities and constraints, natural resources, community concerns, and financial feasibility.

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For questions and comments, contact Kimley-Horn and Associates at:


Mail: Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc.
Attn: Project Manager Vince Hourigan
401 B Street, Suite 600
San Diego, CA 92101

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What’s Been Happening?

September 2017 Update

Current Status of the McClellan-Palomar Airport Master Plan and Draft Program Environmental Impact Report

The County’s Master Plan process consists of two main elements; the development of facility improvement alternatives (engineering-based, depicts the layout of the airfield), and the associated environmental review process.

As previously reported, a Notice of Preparation (NOP) to prepare a Draft Program Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was issued on February 29, 2016. Release of the NOP initiated a 30-day public review period, during which time the public was encouraged to identify areas of potential environmental impact to be considered for technical analysis in the environmental documentation.  A public workshop, with over 200 attendees was held the evening of February 29, 2016, at the Faraday Center in Carlsbad, CA, to kick off the Draft Program EIR process.   During the 30-day public review period, the County received over 100 written comments regarding the preparation of the Draft Program EIR. Public comments were carefully reviewed and a scope for the Draft Program EIR was developed to ensure all areas of interest were appropriately addressed. 

The EIR has a wide range of environmental impacts to analyze; everything from aesthetics, to air quality, to cultural resources, etc.  Target dates for this type of project frequently change due to a number of factors, including changing circumstances (e.g. socioeconomic, environmental, operational, etc.), updated statistics and regulatory revisions.   On occasion, components of a Master Plan may be subject to adjustment as work on a Draft EIR proceeds.  It’s important to invest sufficient time, even if longer than originally estimated, preparing a quality Master Plan and Program EIR that will help guide future development of McClellan-Palomar Airport for years to come. 

Aviation forecast information includes current and expected future aircraft fleet mix, passenger enplanements and operations.  In early 2017, the local FAA office directed the County to update the aviation forecast to ensure it includes the most recent data available.  This direction required an update to the schedule, but there have been no changes to the schedule since then. 

The Board hearing date is not formally set until we’ve gathered public comments, and prepared a response to each comment within the EIR. At that time, we will be able to set a date for the County Board of Supervisors hearing where they will consider approval of the Master Plan and associated EIR. We are currently estimating the Hearing will take place in spring 2018.

Next Steps

Opportunities for Public Involvement

We have received inquiries from interested community members who not only want to know the current status, but are also interested in future opportunities for public input.   After the Draft Program EIR is complete, the public can look forward to a number of public opportunities to learn more about the Master Plan and Draft Program EIR, and to provide additional comments.  We are currently planning a presentation at the November 2017, Palomar Airport Advisory Committee meeting.  We anticipate the presentation will have two sections.  First the Master Plan will be reviewed, including the design approach and proposed alternatives. Then there will be an overview of the environmental review and steps forward.  In early December 2017, the Airport Master Plan will be made available in draft form for a 45-day public review period. We are also planning a Public Workshop during the public review period, where we will give the presentation again, and there will be more opportunity for the public to ask questions. We encourage everyone to sign up for email updates, to make sure they are receiving the most current information about the next Public Workshop and other public involvement opportunities. 

The Board hearing date is not formally set until we have gathered comments, and prepared a response to each comment within the Program EIR.  At that time, we will be able to set a date for the County Board of Supervisors hearing where they will consider approval of the Master Plan and associated EIR.  We are currently estimating the Hearing will take place in late spring 2018.

Public Outreach

Public involvement is a key component of the Master Plan process. County Airports will be soliciting input from airport users, tenants, travelers, resource agencies, public officials, and residents throughout the planning process and at key stages of the Master Plan’s development. Public workshops and meetings will be held to discuss the Plan’s findings and recommendations.

Palomar Airport Advisory Committee

Ongoing updates on the progress of the Master Plan will be held at regularly scheduled meetings of the Palomar Airport Advisory Committee (PAAC). Information on the committee and its meeting schedule are found here.

Environmental documents

Board of Supervisors

On December 16, 2015, the County of San Diego Board of Supervisors considered options for the new Master Plan for McClellan-Palomar Airport. The meeting was held a 9 a.m. at 1600 Pacific Highway, Room 310, San Diego, CA. The Board was requested to provide direction on a preferred option for Airport classification for the McClellan-Palomar Airport Master Plan, subject to the preparation of a Program-Level Environmental Impact Report. The Board directed staff to proceed with the McClellan-Palomar Airport Master Plan focusing on the modified C/D-III classification as the preferred option, subject to the preparation of a Program-Level Environmental Impact Report.  Please see the following links for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is an Airport Master Plan and why is one needed?

The purpose of the Master Plan is to provide decision-makers a roadmap of the community and airport’s strategic vision for the airport that provides flexible options to meet the long-term needs of the community for the next 20 years. The last Master Plan was developed in 1997, and given the modernization of FAA Design and Safety Standards for airports, it is nearing the end of its useful life. Airport Master Plans consist of a report documenting existing conditions of the airport, a forecast of aviation activity, facility requirements (the airport’s needs based on the forecast and compliance with current FAA Design Standards for airports), development and evaluation of alternatives to meet those needs, and a flexible phasing plan for implementation. It is used as a planning and decision-making tool intended to complement other local and regional plans. Components of the Airport Master Plan are illustrated in an Airport Layout Plan (ALP), described below.

2. What is an Airport Layout Plan and why do we need one?

An Airport Layout Plan (ALP) graphically depicts planned development at the airport within the 20-year planning period as determined in the Airport Master Plan. Each individual component of the Master Plan is shown on the drawing, and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval of the ALP is required in order to be eligible for federal funding for airport improvements and maintenance under the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program.

3. How often are Airport Master Plans undertaken?

Based on FAA guidance, Airport Master Plans are recommended to be completed periodically based on the development needs of the airport.

4. Why are you doing this Airport Master Plan?

As mentioned above, the FAA requires an updated and approved ALP for an airport to be eligible for federal funding. In the years since the airport’s previous ALP and Airport Master Plan were prepared, there have been several changes that necessitate an update. These include updated FAA Design Standards for airport design, transformational changes in aviation, and shifts in the types and levels of activity at the airport.

5. How is the community involved in the planning process?

The County welcomes community input at all stages of the Airport Master Plan process, and has hosted four public workshops to review development proposals at the City of Carlsbad Faraday Center:

·         Public Workshop #1: February 5, 2014

·         Public Workshop #2: May 7, 2014

·         Public Workshop #3: April 30, 2015

·         Public Workshop #4: February 29, 2016

Airport management also provides development and operational updates to the community, including the status and findings of the Master Plan, at the Palomar Airport Advisory Committee (PAAC) meetings.  The monthly agendas for PAAC meetings are posted on the County’s website: 

On December 16, 2015, draft findings of the Master Plan were presented to the County Board of Supervisors’ public hearing, and staff was directed to proceed with the environmental evaluation of the preferred development option in a Program-Level Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

The next opportunity for comment is estimated to begin in late 2017 when the Draft Program EIR and Master Plan are released for 45-day public review period. We are planning to hold a public workshop and make a presentation at the PAAC meeting during the public review process.

Updates on the progress of the Airport Master Plan and environmental review process will be posted on the County’s website ( To provide feedback or receive notifications of future document releases please see contact information at the link above.

6. Will the Airport Master Plan report be made available to the public?

The Airport Master Plan will be presented in draft form and include documentation of the existing conditions, forecast of activity, facility requirements (needs), development and evaluation of alternatives to meet those needs, selection of the preferred alternative, and the project phasing plan along with the draft ALP drawing set. Once complete, the Master Plan, ALP drawings, and environmental review document will be considered by the County Board of Supervisors for approval. All draft reports and the final submission will be posted on the County’s website for public review (

7. The County’s Feasibility Study outlined potential changes to the runway; will the Master Plan include a runway extension?

In 2013, staff presented a completed Feasibility Study for Potential Improvements to the McClellan-Palomar Airport Runway to the County Board of Supervisors, which reviewed whether a runway extension was feasible. The study’s findings are considered in the Master Plan, and the proposed project may include a phased approach to safety and length improvements to the runway.

8. Will there be a noise study as part of the Master Plan?

The Airport Master Plan report and Program EIR will include a noise impact analysis and figures that graphically depict the existing and future aviation noise footprints that would result from implementation of Master Plan improvements.

9. Who makes the final decision on this project?

The County Board of Supervisors will ultimately review and consider for approval the final Master Plan document. The FAA, state and federal resource agencies, and state aviation officials will also evaluate the document from a technical standpoint. The ALP will be reviewed by the FAA for approval, and once specific improvements are identified for federal funding and proposed, environmental review shall commence under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

10. When will this process be complete?

Staff anticipates presenting the Master Plan and associated Program EIR to the County Board of Supervisors for approval in late spring of 2018. The timing of implementation/construction of individual elements relies on securing local, state, and/or federal funding. Updates on the Master Plan process are available on the County’s website (