BILL ANALYSIS SENATE LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE Senator Dave Cox, Chair BILL NO: SB 1333 HEARING: 4/19/10 AUTHOR: Yee FISCAL: Yes VERSION: 4/12/10 CONSULTANT: Weinberger AVIGATION EASEMENTS Background and Existing Law The State Department of Transportation must adopt noise standards governing the operation of aircraft and aircraft engines based upon the level of noise acceptable to a reasonable person residing in the vicinity of the airport (AB 645, Foran, 1969). California airport noise regulations: Establish the standard for the acceptable level of aircraft noise for persons living in the vicinity of airports to be a community noise equivalent level (CNEL) of 65 decibels, and Deem new development of residential and certain other land uses within the 65 dB CNEL contour of a noiseproblem airport to be incompatible unless the airport obtains an avigation easement for aircraft noise. An avigation easment is a type of easement which typically conveys: A right-of-way for free and unobstructed passage of aircraft through the airspace over the property at any altitude above a specified surface. A right to subject the property to noise, vibrations, fumes, dust, and fuel particle emissions associated with normal airport activity. A right to prohibit the erection or growth of any structure, tree, or other object that would enter the acquired airspace. 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. A right to prohibit electrical interference, glare, misleading lights, visual impairments, and other hazards to aircraft flight from being created on the property. SB 1333 -- 4/12/10 -- Page 2 Pressures to construct housing, schools, or healthcare facilities near urban airports can sometimes outweigh concerns over noise impacts and result in decisions to allow development where these uses would normally be incompatible. Some cities have ordinances requiring property owners to grant avigation easements as a condition for approval of potentially incompatible development projects within an airport's noise impact boundary. These easements are often granted when local officials issue certificates of occupancy to property owners. Commercial airport operators say that granting these easements after completion of a development project can subordinate the easements to other property rights and may provide potential property buyers with insufficient awareness of airport noise effects. They want avigation easements that are granted as a condition of approval for a potentially incompatible development project to be granted earlier in the development process. Proposed Law When a political subdivision's approval of a noise-sensitive project is conditioned upon the grant of an avigation easement to the owner or operator of an airport, Senate Bill 1333 requires that the avigation easement be granted before to the issuance of the building permit that allows construction or reconstruction of the noise-sensitive project. SB 1333 defines "noise-sensitive project" as a project within an airport's 65 decibels CNEL or higher noise corridor involving new construction or reconstruction for 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. SB 1333 defines "avigation easement" as a property right that authorizes the use of the airspace above, adjacent to, or in the vicinity of, the property of the permitholder granting the easement, to enable aircraft to take-off from or land on one or more of an airport's runways, including an easement obtained pursuant to state law. SB 1333 -- 4/12/10 -- Page 3 The bill states that the owner or operator of an airport that is granted an avigation easement as a condition for approval of a noise-sensitive project is entitled to immediately record the easement upon receipt. SB 1333 requires that an avigation easement granted to the owner or operator of an airport as a condition for approval of a noise-sensitive project must include a termination clause that terminates the easement if the project is not built and the permit or any permit extension authorizing construction of the project expires or is revoked. The bill requires the political subdivision that issued a permit to notify the owner or operator of the airport within 30 days of a permit's expiration or revocation. The owner or operator of the airport must record a notice of termination with the county auditor within 90 days after the receiving notice of a permit's expiration or revocation from a political subdivision. Within 30 days of recording the notice of termination, the owner or operator of the airport must provide the political subdivision with proof of filing. Comments 1. Timing is everything . To remain in compliance with airport noise regulations, San Francisco International Airport (SFO) officials have worked with officials in neighboring cities to address issues relating to potentially incompatible development projects. City officials in San Bruno and South San Francisco have cooperated with SFO by requiring property owners to grant avigation easements as a condition of approval for some development projects within SFO's noise impact boundary. SFO officials believe that these easments' effectiveness in addressing airport noise issues is affected by when the easments are granted. By requiring these easements to be granted before the issuance of a building permit, SB 1333 ensures that the airport's rights are fully protected and that potential property buyers are properly notified that the property is subject to the conditions specified in the easements. 2. Definition . SB 1333 defines "avigation easement" more narrowly than the definition used, for example, in the SB 1333 -- 4/12/10 -- Page 4 Airport Land Use Planning Handbook produced by the Department of Transportation's Aeronautics Division. Proponents of the bill continue to have discussions with other stakeholders to ensure that the bill's definition of avigation easement is accurate. The Committee may wish to consider whether the definition of avigation easement in SB 1333 should be amended to ensure that it supports the bill's purpose. 3. Mandate . The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local governments for the costs of new or expanded state mandated local programs. Because SB 1333 imposes new notice requirements on local governments and requires notices of termination to be recorded, Legislative Counsel says that the bill imposes a new state mandate. SB 1333 disclaims the state's responsibility for providing reimbursement by citing local governments' authority to charge for the costs of implementing the bill's provisions. Support and Opposition (4/15/10) Support : California Airports Council, San Francisco International Airport. Opposition : Unknown.