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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Airport Land Use

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How is development regulated around airports for compatibility with airport operations?

The California Public Utilities Code establishes airport land use commissions in each county to provide for the orderly development of air transportation and to ensure compatible land uses around airports.

In January 2001, the Sonoma County Airport Land Use Commission adopted the Comprehensive Airport Land Use Plan for Sonoma County (CALUP). The Government Code requires city and county general plans, specific plans, zoning and building regulations to be consistent with the CALUP. The Commission reviews proposed changes to city and county plans and regulations to determine if they are consistent with the CALUP. If the Commission finds any proposal to be inconsistent with the CALUP, the city or county may overrule the Commission determination by a two-thirds vote of its governing body after making specific findings that the proposal is consistent with the purposes of State laws on airport safety.

What policies and standards are applied to development to maintain compatibility with airport operations?

In Chapter 8, the Comprehensive Airport Land Use Plan (CALUP) for Sonoma County sets forth the policies and standards and the procedures for applying them to development. Following are the sections and contents of Chapter 8:

8.2: Requirements and geographic boundaries for referrals from the cities and County for planning and development proposals.

8.3: Standards for the acceptability of various land uses in airport-area noise levels.

8.4: Standards for the types and intensity of land uses allowed in the safety zones.

8.5: Standards for the maximum height of structures allowed around airports.

8.6: Policies for existing uses and making findings on allowed uses.

8.7: Procedures for updating the CALUP and reviewing proposed plan amendments, development projects, and airport master plans.

How is the public informed about airport-related restrictions?

California law requires sellers to disclose "any fact materially affecting the value and desirability of the property". This includes disclosure when the property is either within two miles of an airport or if it is within an "airport influence area". This is the area where airport-related factors "may significantly affect land uses or necessitate restrictions on those uses as determined by an airport land use commission".

For the Cloverdale, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Sonoma Valley, and Sonoma Skypark airports, the Sonoma Commission Airport Land Use Commission has determined that the CALUP referral area boundaries represent the "airport influence areas". For the Sonoma County Airport, the Commission has determined that the "airport influence area" extends beyond the referral area and includes the surrounding areas where CALUP height limits are in effect and where airplanes using the instrument approach pattern would be expected to be lower than 1,000 feet above ground level. Additional information is available in the Airport Land Use page.