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More lawsuits filed over Carlsbad airport

Above: Citizens for a Friendly Airport filed a lawsuit June 4 against the city of Carlsbad and county of San Diego over the settlement agreement regarding the McClellan-Palomar Airport Master Plan. Photo by Steve PuterskiCitizens for a Friendly Airport

CARLSBAD — The dust is far from settling after the resident group Citizens for a Friendly Airport filed its second lawsuit regarding the McClellan-Palomar Airport Master Plan.

This time, though, the city of Carlsbad and county of San Diego are co-defendants as the suit alleges the May 7 settlement agreement violates California laws and sovereignty of Carlsbad as a charter city.

San Diego attorney Cory Briggs filed the suit June 4 on behalf of Citizens for a Friendly Airport. The group also filed suit against the county in November after the County of Board of Supervisors approved the master plan update, re-classifying the airport from a B-II to a D-III.

Carlsbad also filed suit in December against the county, but came to a resolution during a special meeting March 27.

The city and group’s original lawsuits challenged the validity of the county for violating the California Environmental Quality Act.

“This Settlement Agreement limits the governing power of future Carlsbad elected officials and cedes their authority to the county,” Briggs said in a statement. “Citizens for a Friendly Airport’s litigation against the county is ongoing.”

The latest suit, meanwhile, challenges the immunities the county has from city building and zoning ordinances, and may also apply to lessees and contractors.”

According to the lawsuit, it alleges the approval of the project was illegal and violated the California Environmental Quality Act. In addition, the suit says the county is immune from the city’s building and zoning ordinances, mischaracterizes the county’s obligations to the city under Conditional Use Permit 172, ensures the city will not adopt a zoning ordinance brought forth on Jan. 18 and prohibits city representatives from interacting with members of the public and Citizens for a Friendly Airport regarding the group original lawsuit against the county.

“The city gave away the right to zone land outside the airport perimeter and other policing powers for the next 20 years,” Hope Nelson, C4FA representative, said in a statement. “The county gained the right to expand outside the boundaries of the existing airport without Carlsbad voter approval, which is required in Carlsbad Municipal Code 21.53.015 for any airport expansion.”

The group also says the county has favorable conditions for issues not included in the city’s original lawsuit against the county, such as the 20-year exemption for the county and its private partners from Carlsbad’s land use and zoning requirements.

Other concerns the group has with the settlement is, they contend, it contains no progress on noise monitoring, flight curfews, or penalties for violations, all important issues for residents in the flight paths of McClellan-Palomar Airport.

“The Settlement Agreement does not address many of the environmental concerns which were the basis of the city’s lawsuit, notably the County of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan which has been declared insufficient in court on three previous occasions, all of which the County has lost,” according to a statement.

The group also lodged a Brown Act violation compliant against the City Council after the body’s vote on March 27. The city reaffirmed its vote on May 7. Both votes approved the settlement, 4-1, with Councilwoman Cori Schumacher voting no both times.

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