CARLSBAD — A resident group who has been fighting against the McClellan-Palomar Master Plan for years is demanding action from the city.
Attorney Cory Briggs, who represents Citizens for a Friendly Airport, submitted a letter April 23 requesting the city “cure” its March 27 approval of a legal settlement with the county of San Diego regarding the lawsuit the city filed against the county in December 2018.
The council approved the settlement 4-1, with Councilwoman Cori Schumacher voting against the deal. The city sued the county as a result of issues with the county’s environmental impact report (EIR), as required by the California Environmental Quality Act.
The City Council had a closed session meeting for three-and-a-half hours on March 27 before convening a public meeting to announce the decision.
“They went and did it in secret instead of in public,” Briggs said. “They didn’t just agree to drop the lawsuit, they agreed to do a bunch of other stuff.”
Briggs also requests the city readdress the issue within 30 days of receiving the letter. In addition, Briggs’ letter says his client may sue before receiving a response from the city.
“In particular, the agenda did not lawfully inform the public that the Carlsbad City Council intended to consider and/or approve a Mutual Settlement Agreement and Cooperation Agreement of the lawsuit,” Briggs’ letter reads. It continues, “(the settlement) was illegally approved in closed session, including but not limited to modifying CUP-172, withdrawing a zoning-ordinance amendment, and agreeing not to exercise land-use authority.”
Carlsbad City Attorney Celia Brewer replied to Briggs with a letter on April 24. She said the city has scheduled the matter as an agenda item on May 7, saying, “While we disagree with your analysis, in an abundance of caution, we will add curative action as you request.”
Brewer did not respond to a request for comment citing the ongoing litigation.
The group has long railed against a possible expansion of the airport, offload traffic being rerouted from San Diego International Airport, noise, pollution, voluntary flight hours, in addition to the findings from the EIR.
Many residents are concerned the county will use the master plan to turn the facility into another John Wayne Airport.
The agreement does establish permanent quarterly meetings to keep city staff updated on airport issues. In addition, the county will give the city 30 days to comment, react and provide feedback on any major development plans at the airport.
Another aspect is the county is committed to all of the mitigation set forth in the Mitigation Monitoring Program in the final EIR, in addition to those required by law.
Attorney Peter Kirsch, whose Denver-based firm was hired by the city last year, said the county will include all mitigation measures in responses to comments in the EIR.
Also, the county will install two more noise meters to monitor levels of air traffic coming and going from the airport.
Steve Puterski covers Carlsbad and Vista. For tips or story ideas, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @StevePuterski.