Information about airport planning

Airport Planning Process

Developments on any airport in California involve processes dictated by both California and Federal laws. Environmental reviews are required at both levels. Project reviews and plans are required by the Marin County Board of Supervisors, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the California Department of Aeronautics. Compatible land use developments around an airport are regulated by the Marin County Airport Land Use Commission.  

FAA National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) includes Marin County Airport, Gnoss Field, in the  National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS)[External] as significant to national air transportation and therefore eligible to receive grants from the FAA Airport Improvement Program (AIP). Gnoss Field appears as a Reliever airport, a high-capacity general aviation airport that serves pilots as an alternate to using congested commercial-service airports in the San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose metropolitan area. Furthermore, the 2013-2017 report to Congress lists Gnoss Field as eligible for $14,817,527 in AIP grants for development costs.

Airport Master Plan

To maintain eligibility to receive FAA grants, Marin County Board of Supervisors adopted an Airport Master Plan in 1989 with an update in 1997. The Gnoss Field Airport Master Plan contains four key objectives: to guide the operation and development of the airport, to ensure environmental compatibility, to maintain a compatible zoning and land use plan, and to maintain eligibility for federal and state grants to develop the airport. The Airport Master Plan includes an inventory of current airport facilities, an aviation demand forecast, planned development alternatives, and financial evaluation.
The 1989 plan assumed that general aviation activity would increase because of the closure of both Hamilton Field and Smith Ranch Airport. In 1997, that increase had not happened and a revised set of development alternatives were adopted to extend the runway, to develop a cross wind runway, and expand aircraft parking (see Appendix K, pages 189-195 in the PDF file).

Airport Layout Plan

As development on the airport occurs, the County must maintain an Airport Layout Plan (ALP) approved by the FAA. An ALP serves as an engineering drawing with both current and future facilities, runways and taxiways. These plans are updated as projects are proposed and implemented. An updated ALP must be submitted and approved by the FAA prior to submitting a grant proposal to design and construct airport projects. As FAA standards for airport facilities evolve, the ALP must also be updated to the latest safety specifications, such as recent increases in runway safety areas and obstacle free zones. The Airport Master Plan of 1989 contains three ALPs with successive development stages, but those have been superseded by the current ALP prepared in 2006.

Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan

The California State Aeronautics Act requires Marin County to protect the development and operation of  Gnoss Field through compatible zoning and land use around the airport. The Board of Supervisors, through the  Airport Land Use Commission, adopted the  Airport Land Use Plan (137 pages)[PDF] of 1991. The policies adopted protect the airspace around the airport, improve aviation safety, address aviation noise compatibility, and ensure compatibility of airport environs land use.

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