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Carlsbad Community Community Vista Vista Featured

Local groups band together over plane noise, airport expansion

VISTA — Neighbors living in the areas of the McClellan-Palomar Airport flight path are complaining of an uptick of loud overhead flights. The nonprofit South Vista Communities recently partnered with a newly formed Carlsbad group named Citizens for a Friendly Airport.

Both groups encouraged residents affected by the noise pollution to meet at the Shadowridge Golf Club for a Nov. 8 meeting. 

Established in 2006, South Vista Communities is an advocacy organization for neighborhoods south of I-78. Its focus is to preserve and improve the quality of life for South Vista residents.

According to Stephanie Jackel, the president of South Vista Communities, she and her husband didn’t encounter many overflights when they purchased their home in 2004. Aircraft was rarely seen or heard. However, this all changed in 2013.

“The planes began flying right over the homes in the area very low and very loudly,” Jackel said. “We began to look into what was going on.”

Since that time, they’ve had three meetings with the FAA and a few with McClellan-Palomar Airport staff — and the airplane noise still exists.

According to Jackel, a member of their organization is a pilot and explained that the reason for the low overflights is based on the FAA’s NextGen technology which triggers flight patterns changes and lower altitudes. The NextGen system, which is best described as a GPS, was implemented back in 2013, Jackel said.

“Before NextGen, airplanes used to have to fly from a visual point to point. They were flying east to approximately San Marcos, then turning around and flying west to the airport, along the line of Palomar Airport Road,” Jackel said. Now aircraft are coming over South Vista.

While not trying to be a defeatist, Jackel is certain the overflight routes cannot be changed. What she is hoping for, however, is that the proposed expansion plans for McClellan-Palomar Airport do not happen. If they do, South Vista Communities is concerned that low overhead noise pollution will increase at a rapid rate as well as the frequency of larger airplanes flying overhead.

“Citizens for a Friendly Airport wants to force the city of Carlsbad to hold a vote on the expansion of the airport,” Jackel said. “If we can stop the expansion and more flights, then it’s not going to make anything wonderful, but it will certainly make it so it doesn’t get worse and worse.” 

South Vista Communities is supporting the efforts of C4FA while also accomplishing their organization’s goals.

Hope Nelson, the organizer for C4FA, said the organization was formed in October 2017. While new, Nelson said she has been following the noise issues at McClellan-Palomar Airport.

Nelson has been a Carlsbad resident for 17 years. She lived across the street from the McClellan-Palomar Airport and moved last June.

“We opted to sell our house because we were concerned about property values. There’s documented information that say that dependent on your proximity to the airport, your property value can go down by as much as 30 percent,” she said

Now, Nelson lives under three miles away from the airport and she can still hear the airplanes. 

Nelson said that the airport noise is not just a Carlsbad centric issue. The goal of the Nov. 8 meeting was to have their newly formed group offer their viewpoints on the new master plan the county is planning on putting before the Board of Supervisors regarding the airport.

“This is a specific master plan that has been in the works for quite a while now,” she said. “It’s a 20-year masterplan for McClellan-Palomar Airport. And it calls for some pretty major expansion.” 

A big part of the expansion is adding hundreds of runway feet.

“So, you’re talking about a runway that is going to end up being comparable to the size of one of the runways at John Wayne Airport,” she said.

Nelson said their group has a very focused goal. It wants the citizens of Carlsbad to have the opportunity to vote on this expansion.

“This is such a major issue,” Nelson said. “We want the citizens to have a say.”

The draft EIR connected to this master plan is expected to be released in early December. Following this, there will be a 45-day citizens’ review period for comments. 

“Once that’s done the county has to respond to all of the comments pertaining to that draft EIR,” she said. “Once they do that, they will publish the final EIR, and they are now saying that by summer (2018) it should be on the docket for the Board of Supervisors to approve.” 

Susanne Bankhead, community relations manager for the city of Carlsbad, said the city knows and understand there are concerns among resident in the community about the master plan.

“We do have a team of city staff across different departments that are monitoring the progress on it,” she said.

Bankhead said the county has had some outreach meetings with concerned residents and city staff.

“For us, we certainly want to make sure residents know where to go for information,” she said.

The city will share the information the county puts out regarding documents and workshops via city channels such as the city of Carlsbad website, social media and citywide e-blasts that go out to residents every week.

“That will be a big part of sharing what the county provides to us for additional workshops or meetings where people can find out answers to questions that they have and provide comments. On the internal side, city staff will be reviewing information that is in the (EIR) draft document and provide comments and questions to the county at that time,” Bankhead said. 

For more information, visit the San Diego County website regarding the McClellan-Palomar Airport master plan at South Vista Communities can be reached at and Citizens for a Friendly Airport can be visited at

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Kevin G December 2, 2017 at 3:31 pm

This is absolutely an issue. As the crow flies I live Less Than 3 miles from this Airport. This became such an issue over a year ago I contacted the airport and had an email conversation with a representative that claimed nothing had changed. These planes fly so low and are so loud sometimes they shake my house. Sometimes they are so low I can read the numbers on the belly of the plane. The airport Authority will try to tell you that a longer Runway will make less noise because then the airplane don’t have to throttle their engines up at take off. But what they don’t acknowledge is that bigger planes will come in and more planes will come in making the noise even worse than it is.

Theresa Gibson RN January 17, 2018 at 5:58 am

You are absolutely correct!

Matthew Kaye December 22, 2017 at 3:37 pm

The planes started routing over home about 6 months after moving into it. A complete and absolute nightmare, the longest breaks from around 6am-11pm would be for about 5 seconds per minute. It wasn’t even the large planes that were the problem – they were over and out quickly. It was the smaller training/sight seeing planes with old, cranky engines that made us feel like we were underneath a WW1 ariel battle. After being dragged along for months with false promises of upcoming fixes I had to get out of there, there is no point in trying to work with these people. It cost me a lot of time, money, and stress but at least these guys get an ocean view while training (as opposed to say, practicing in the 90% of SoCal that isn’t urbanized). There is simply no place for humans when money is involved.

Theresa Gibson RN January 17, 2018 at 6:01 am

Sorry! And you are SO right!

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