CARLSBAD — Nearly one month ago, the city of Carlsbad filed a lawsuit against the San Diego County Board of Supervisors over the approval of the McClellan-Palomar Master Plan.
The suit, filed on Dec. 6, requests for an injunction to prevent the county from going forward with its plan to upgrade the airport to a D-III designation, along with alleging the county’s failure to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
The supervisors approved the plan on Oct. 10 in a 4-0 vote. Supervisor Kristin Gaspar recused herself since she owns property near the airport.
On Oct. 23, the City Council met in a closed session with the City Attorney’s office and outside counsel, the Denver-based firm of Kaplan, Kirsch and Rockwell, and voted 3-2 to take an “aggressive approach” to “protect the city’s rights.”
The suit claims the county received more than 100 letters from state and local agencies and residents regarding significant deficiencies with the PEIR. A revised PEIR was re-circulated in the summer and the final PEIR was released less than two weeks before the supervisors’ vote.
Carlsbad contends the county failed to comply with CEQA, did not employ baselines for environmental reviews, did not provide adequate analysis of potential significant impacts such as air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, noise, land use planning and a host of others.
Another contention from the city is the county may try to expand the airport’s footprint. The county owns 454 acres, 231 of which the airport currently resides. The suit alleges the county failed to analyze those components, along with 17 acres on the northwest corner of El Camino Real and Palomar Airport Road and mitigation measures.
The suit also cites the county’s plans, which are over 20 years, from the relocation of numerous buildings and roads to moving the taxiway and runway plus the 800-foot lengthening of the runway.
“The City Council directed the lawyers to file a legal challenge to the approval of the Master Plan and certification of the Program EIR unless the county agrees to extend the deadline for the city to file suit and also to pursue a creative and forceful strategy to supplement the litigation,” according to a statement from the city. “Notwithstanding its decision, the City Council made it clear that the door is always open to a negotiated resolution, should the county change its approach to the city and its residents’ interests.”
As for other questions surrounding the action, Kristina Ray, director of community outreach and engagement, said the city will not comment further due to the pending litigation.
The county will also not comment, as a spokesperson noted several weeks ago when the resident group Citizens for a Friendly Airport filed its suit, which is independent of the city’s action, on Nov. 10. The suit challenges many of the same claims made by the city.