Article 3. Regulation Of Airports of California Public Utilities Code >> Division 9. >> Part 1. >> Chapter 4. >> Article 3.
This article does not apply to any temporary seaplane
landing site, ultralight vehicle flightpark, or to airports owned or
operated by the United States. To the extent necessary, the
department may exempt any other class of airports, pursuant to a
reasonable classification or grouping, from any rule or requirement
thereof, adopted pursuant to this article, if it finds that its
application would be an undue burden on the class and is not required
in the interest of public safety.
This section shall become operative on January 1, 1989.
(a) No political subdivision, any of its officers or
employees, or any person may submit any application for the
construction of a new airport to any local, regional, state, or
federal agency unless the plan for construction is first approved by
the board of supervisors of the county, or the city council of the
city, in which the airport is to be located and unless the plan is
submitted to the appropriate commission exercising powers pursuant to
Article 3.5 (commencing with Section 21670) of Chapter 4 of Part 1
of Division 9, and acted upon by that commission in accordance with
the provisions of that article.
(b) A county board of supervisors or a city council may, pursuant
to Section 65100 of the Government Code, delegate its responsibility
under this section for the approval of a plan for construction of new
helicopter landing and takeoff areas, to the county or city planning
(a) Prior to the acquisition of land or any interest
therein, including tide and submerged lands or other lands subject to
the public trust for commerce, navigation, or fisheries, by any
political subdivision for the purpose of expanding or enlarging any
existing publicly owned airport, the acquiring entity shall submit a
plan of that expansion or enlargement to the board of supervisors of
the county, or the city council of the city, in which the property
proposed to be acquired is located.
(b) The plan shall show in detail the airport-related uses and
other uses proposed for the property to be acquired.
(c) The board of supervisors or the city council, as the case may
be, shall, upon notice, conduct a public hearing on the plan, and
shall thereafter approve or disapprove the plan.
(d) Upon approval of the plan, the proposed acquisition of
property may begin.
(e) The use of property so acquired shall thereafter conform to
the approved plan, and any variance from that plan, or changes
proposed therein, shall first be approved by the appropriate board of
supervisors or city council after a public hearing on the subject of
the variance or plan change.
(f) The requirements of this section are in addition to any other
requirements of law relating to construction or expansion of
The department shall have the authority to issue airport
site approval permits, amended airport site approval permits, airport
permits, and amended airport permits. No charge shall be made for
the issuance of any permit.
(a) At or as near as practical to the site of a medical
emergency and at a medical facility, an officer authorized by a
public safety agency may designate an area for the landing and taking
off of an emergency service helicopter, in accordance with
regulations established not later than January 1, 1989, pursuant to
(b) "Public safety agency" means any city, county, state agency,
or special purpose district authorized to arrange for emergency
(a) Emergency aircraft flights for medical purposes by law
enforcement, firefighting, military, or other persons who provide
emergency flights for medical purposes are exempt from local
ordinances adopted by a city, county, or city and county, whether
general law or chartered, that restrict flight departures and
arrivals to particular hours of the day or night, that restrict the
departure or arrival of aircraft based upon the aircraft's noise
level, or that restrict the operation of certain types of aircraft.
(b) As used in this section, "emergency aircraft flights for
medical purposes" are those flights in which undue delay would
threaten a patient's life. "Emergency aircraft flights for medical
purposes" include, but are not limited to, flights for the
transportation of any of the following:
(1) Patients accompanied by licensed or certificated medical
attendants such as paramedics, nurses, physicians, and respiratory
(2) Surgical transplant teams for the purpose of procuring human
organs for reimplantation in recipients.
(3) Organ procurement agency coordinators responding to a
(4) Temporarily viable human organs such as a heart, liver, lungs,
kidneys, and pancreas, and human tissue, blood, or blood components.
(5) Human tissue and blood samples for clinical testing to
determine compatibility between a donor and a recipient.
(6) Mechanical adjuncts or biological replacements for human
(7) Medical equipment and supplies.
(8) Aircraft or equipment used during a medical emergency, or
emergency personnel and first responders involved in treating the
medical emergency, for the purpose of returning to its base of
"Emergency aircraft flights for medical purposes" do not include
the transportation of medical personnel to attend seminars,
conferences, or speaking appearances in which undue delay would not
jeopardize any patient's medical condition.
(c) (1) Written information concerning the emergency shall be
submitted to the airport proprietor for all emergency aircraft
flights within 72 hours prior or subsequent to the departure or
arrival of the aircraft. For all emergency aircraft flights for
medical purposes, the information shall include the patient's name
and address, the names of medical attendants or personnel and the
discipline in which they are licensed or hold a certificate to
practice, a signed statement by the attending physician specifying
that a medical emergency was involved, the requesting medical
facility or agency, the intended destination, the type and
registration number of the aircraft, and the names of all flight crew
members, provided that the disclosure is authorized by and made in a
manner consistent with the standards with respect to the privacy of
individually identifiable health information of Title II (commencing
with Section 200) of the federal Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-191), the regulations
issued by the United States Department of Health and Human Services
pursuant to that act (45 C.F.R. Pts. 160 and 164), and the
Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (Part 2.6 (commencing with
Section 56) of Division 1 of the Civil Code).
(2) This subdivision does not apply to emergency aircraft flights
for medical purposes by law enforcement, firefighting, or military
(d) Any airport that incurs additional expenses in order to
accommodate the arrival or departure of emergency aircraft flights
for medical purposes may charge the patient on whose behalf the
flight is made, or any organization or entity which has volunteered
to reimburse the airport, for those expenses.
(e) For emergency aircraft flights for medical purposes, when two
airports are located in the same geographical area, and one of the
airports is a "closed" or restricted airport, the Legislature
encourages the use of the "open" or unrestricted airport when
feasible, rather than using the "closed" or restricted airport.
(f) When leasing aircraft for flights for emergency medical
purposes, the Legislature encourages the use, when feasible, of
aircraft which comply with local noise ordinances.
Notwithstanding Section 21006 or Section 21661 or any
other provision of law to the contrary, no helicopter may land or
depart in any area within 1,000 feet, measured by air line, of the
boundary of any public or private school maintaining kindergarten
classes or any classes in grades 1 through 12, without approval of
the department or by a public safety agency designated by the
department, unless the landing or departure takes place at a
permitted permanent heliport, or is a designated emergency medical
service landing site.
Before approval of the landing or departure of a helicopter
pursuant to this section, all schools within the specified area shall
be notified by the department or public safety agency of the
application and shall have 15 days after the notice in which to
demand a public hearing. The public hearing shall be held at a
location in the immediate vicinity of the landing or departure site.
The department or public safety agency shall not grant approval
pursuant to this section unless it has first found that helicopter
operations at the proposed site can be conducted in a safe manner,
and in accordance with criteria established by the department.
This section shall not prevent the governing body of any city or
county from enacting ordinances or regulations imposing restrictions
equal to or greater than those imposed by this section.
It is unlawful for any political subdivision, any of its
officers or employees, or any person to operate an airport unless an
appropriate airport permit required by rule of the department has
been issued by the department and has not subsequently been revoked.
Any political subdivision or person planning to construct,
establish, or expand an airport shall apply for the appropriate
permit from the department prior to the construction, establishment
or expansion. The application shall set forth the location of all
highways, railways, wires, cables, poles, fences, schools,
residential areas and places of public gathering, and any other
information as may be required by the rules and regulations of the
department. Whenever an airport owned or operated by the United
States ceases to be so owned or operated, any political subdivision
or person desiring or planning to own or operate the airport shall
apply to the department in compliance with the provisions of this
article. If the airport holds a permit issued by the department, the
application shall be confined to consideration of the matters
enumerated in subdivision (e) of Section 21666.
(a) An amended airport permit shall be required for every
expansion of an existing airport. An applicant for an amended airport
permit shall comply with each requirement of this article pertaining
to permits for new airports. The department may by regulation
provide for exemptions from the operation of this section pursuant to
Section 21661, except that no exemption shall be made limiting the
applicability of subdivision (e) of Section 21666, pertaining to
environmental considerations, including the requirement for public
hearings in connection therewith.
(b) As used in this section, "airport expansion" includes any of
(1) The acquisition of runway protection zones, as defined in
Federal Aviation Administration Advisory Circular 150/1500-13, or of
any interest in land for the purpose of any other expansion as set
forth in this section.
(2) The construction of a new runway.
(3) The extension or realignment of an existing runway.
(4) Any other expansion of the airport's physical facilities for
the purpose of accomplishing or which are related to the purpose of
paragraph (1), (2), or (3).
(c) This section does not apply to any expansion of an existing
airport if the expansion commenced on or prior to the effective date
of this section and the expansion met the approval, on or prior to
that effective date, of each governmental agency that required the
approval by law.
The department shall issue a permit if it is satisfied that
all of the following requirements have been met:
(a) The site meets or exceeds the minimum airport standards
specified by the department in its rules and regulations, provided,
however, that the department may modify its minimum airport standards
when issuing a permit if it is satisfied that the airport will
conform to minimum standards of safety.
(b) Safe air traffic patterns have been established for the
proposed airport and for all existing airports and approved airport
sites in its vicinity.
(c) The zone of approach of the airport has been engineered in
conformity with the provisions of Section 21403, the documents
relating thereto are available for public inspection.
(d) The department when issuing a permit may impose reasonable
conditions which it deems necessary to effectuate the purposes of
(e) The advantages to the public in selection of the site of a
proposed new airport outweigh the disadvantages to the environment
or, in the case of an amended permit, the advantages to the public of
the proposed airport expansion outweigh the disadvantages to the
environment. Environmental considerations include but are not limited
to noise, air pollution, and the burden upon the surrounding area
caused by the airport or airport expansion, including but not limited
to, surface traffic and expense. The standards by which noise
considerations are weighed shall be the level of noise acceptable to
a reasonable person residing in the vicinity of the airport. The
regulations adopted by the department pursuant to Section 21669 may
be considered in determining such level of noise.
Each permit issued by the department shall set forth any
conditions imposed thereon, and any modification of the general
minimum airport standards prescribed by the department relative to
such airport or airport site.
The department may refuse to issue a permit under this article if
it determines that the requirements of this section have not been
met. Any person denied a permit shall, upon request, be granted a
hearing by the department to determine whether the permit should be
The department may revoke any airport permit if it
determines that any of the following conditions are present:
(a) There has been an abandonment of a site or an airport.
(b) There has been a failure within the time prescribed to develop
the site as an airport or to comply with the conditions of the
approval as set forth in the permit.
(c) The airport or site no longer conforms to the minimum airport
standards prescribed by the department, or no longer complies with
the conditions imposed in the airport permit or site approval.
(d) The owner or operator of a permitted airport has failed to
comply with any rule or regulation of the department.
(e) The site may no longer be safely used by the general public
because of a change in physical or legal conditions either on or off
the airport site.
The department shall not revoke a permit under this section
without prior notice or opportunity for hearing, unless the
department determines in writing that public safety considerations
require a summary revocation. In this event, any person aggrieved by
the action of the department shall, upon request, be granted a
hearing by the department to determine whether the revocation shall
remain in effect.
In lieu of revoking an airport permit pursuant to Section
21668, the department may suspend any airport permit, or may require
suspension of operations of a portion of an airport, and such
suspension shall remain in effect until the department determines
that the conditions requiring the suspension no longer exist.
The department shall not order a suspension under this section
without prior notice or opportunity for hearing, unless the
department determines in writing that public safety considerations
require a summary suspension. In this event, any person aggrieved by
the action of the department shall, upon request, be granted a
hearing by the department to determine whether the suspension shall
remain in effect.
The department shall adopt noise standards governing the
operation of aircraft and aircraft engines for airports operating
under a valid permit issued by the department to an extent not
prohibited by federal law. The standards shall be based upon the
level of noise acceptable to a reasonable person residing in the
vicinity of the airport.
(a) Land use conversion involving existing residential
communities shall generally be considered the least desirable action
for achieving compliance with noise standards regulations adopted by
the Department of Transportation pursuant to Section 21669.
(b) Nothing in this section creates a private right of action in
any civil litigation.
(c) This section is declaratory of existing regulations of the
In its deliberations, the department shall be governed by
the following guidelines:
(a) Statewide uniformity in standards of acceptable airport noise
need not be required, and the maximum amount of local control and
enforcement shall be permitted.
(b) Due consideration shall be given to the economic and
technological feasibility of complying with the standards promulgated
by the department.
Any regulations designed to establish a noise monitoring
program at an airport entering service after November 30, 1971, shall
go into effect on the date the airport enters service.
(a) The violation of the noise standards by any aircraft
shall be deemed a misdemeanor and the operator thereof shall be
punished by a fine of one thousand dollars ($1,000) for each
(b) It shall be the function of the county wherein an airport is
situated to enforce the noise regulations established by the
department. To this end, the operator of an airport shall furnish to
the enforcement authority designated by the county the information
required by the department's regulations to permit the efficient
enforcement thereof. The operator of each airport shall reimburse the
county for its costs of implementing the airport noise regulations
contained in Article 8 (commencing with Section 5050) of subchapter 6
of Title 4 of the California Administrative Code, which shall, for
purposes of subdivision (c), credit the operator for any amounts
received from penalties assessed for violations at such airport. Upon
request of the operator, the department shall review and shall
determine the reasonableness of such costs, and such costs may be
considered in fixing any airport user fees.
(c) Penalties assessed for the violation of the noise regulations
shall be used first to reimburse the General Fund for the amount of
any money appropriated to carry out the purposes for which the noise
regulations are established, and second be used in the enforcement of
the noise regulations at participating airports.
(a) For purposes of this section, the following terms have
the following meanings:
(1) (A) "Avigation easement" means a less-than-fee-title transfer
of real property rights from the property owner that may convey to an
owner or operator of an airport any or all of the following rights:
(i) A right-of-way for the free and unobstructed passage of
aircraft through the airspace over the property at any altitude above
a specified surface.
(ii) A right to subject the property to noise, vibration, fumes,
dust, and fuel particle emissions associated with normal airport
(iii) A right to prohibit the erection or growth of any structure,
tree, or other object that would enter the acquired airspace.
(iv) A right-of-entry onto the property, with proper advance
notice, for the purpose of removing, marking, or lighting any
structure or other object that enters the acquired airspace.
(v) A right to prohibit electrical interference, glare, misleading
lights, visual impairments, and other hazards to aircraft flight
from being created on the property.
(B) "Avigation easement" includes an easement obtained pursuant to
paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 21652.
(2) "CNEL" means community noise equivalent level established
pursuant to Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 5000) of Division 2.5
of Title 21 of the California Code of Regulations.
(3) "Noise-sensitive land use" means residential uses, including
detached single-family dwellings, multifamily dwellings, highrise
apartments or condominiums, mobilehomes, public and private
educational facilities, hospitals, convalescent homes, churches,
synagogues, temples, and other places of worship.
(4) "Noise-sensitive project" means a project involving new
construction or reconstruction for a planned noise-sensitive land use
within an airport's 65 decibels CNEL or higher noise contour.
(b) If a political subdivision conditions approval of a
noise-sensitive project upon the grant of an avigation easement to
the owner or operator of an airport, the avigation easement shall be
required to be granted to the owner or operator of the airport prior
to the issuance of the building permit that allows construction or
reconstruction of the noise-sensitive project. The owner or operator
of an airport that is granted an avigation easement as a condition
for approval of a noise-sensitive project pursuant to this
subdivision shall be entitled to immediately record it upon receipt.
(c) An avigation easement granted to the owner or operator of an
airport as a condition for approval of a noise-sensitive project
shall include a termination clause that operates to terminate the
avigation easement if the noise-sensitive project is not built and
the permit or any permit extension authorizing construction or
reconstruction of the noise-sensitive project has expired or has been
(d) Within 30 days after expiration or revocation of a permit or
permit extension that authorized construction or reconstruction of a
noise-sensitive project and was conditioned upon the property owner
granting an avigation easement to the owner or operator of an
airport, the political subdivision that had issued the permit shall
notify the owner or operator of the airport of the expiration or
revocation of the permit. Within 90 days after receipt of the notice
from the political subdivision, the owner or operator of the airport
shall record a notice of termination with the county recorder in
which the property is located. Proof of filing of the notice of
termination shall be provided to the political subdivision by the
owner or operator of the airport within 30 days of recordation.
(e) Notwithstanding Sections 6103 and 27383 of the Government
Code, the owner or operator of an airport shall pay all applicable
recording fees prescribed by law for the filing of a notice of
termination pursuant to this section.
Hearings under this article required by the provisions of
Sections 21666, 21668, 21668.2, and 21669, or regulations adopted
pursuant to those provisions, shall be conducted pursuant to Chapter
5 (commencing with Section 11500) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2
of the Government Code.