Airport Site Consensus Final Report of March 12, l990
Rejected MCAS-El Toro
Although the Orange County Board of Supervisors brushed aside and referred their study recommendations to staff on April 3, l990, participants in this $700,000, 20-month, in-depth search for an airport site to serve the future commercial aviation needs of Orange County completed the most comprehensive and definitive of 18 studies conducted over the years and rejected the Marine Corps Air Station at El Toro as a candidate site.
Some 300 leaders from all areas of the county came together in team
meetings at the Fluor Building in Irvine from May 1988 through December
l989, achieved a consensus on 21 site selection criteria, examined 31
variations at 24 locations and narrowed the list down to these four
1. Potrero los Pinos in the Cleveland National Forest in Orange County
2. South Camp Pendleton on the coastal shelf within Camp Pendleton just
north of Oceanside in San Diego County
3. Cristianitos Canyon inland from San Clemente and Camp Pendleton in
4. March Air Force Base adjacent to Moreno Valley and Perris in western
Objectively, only one of the final four sites
appears to be
feasible—March Air Force Base.
Approval of a major airport in the Cleveland National Forest is unlikely.
There is strong grass roots and Southern California Edison company opposition to Cristianitos Canyon. The Marine Corps has made it clear no part of Camp Pendleton is
available for a civilian, commercial airport..
These ten Orange County locations were studied meticulously:
Canyon, Bolsa Bay, Cristianitos Canyon, El Toro Marine Corps Air
Station, Huntington Flats, Los Alamitos Armed Forces Reserve Center,
Potrero los Pinos, Santiago Canyon, Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station and
Two sites in Los Angeles County were put on the candidate list:
Angeles Harbor and Santa Monica Bay. Riverside County provided five
sites: Lakeview Mountains, March Air Force Base, March Air Force Base
Offset, Mesa de Colorado and Prado Dam.
The four San Bernardino County sites were Chino Airport, Chino Hills
(partly in Orange County), Jurupa Hills and Norton Air Force Base.
The three San Diego County sites were North Camp Pendleton, Palomar
Airport and South Camp Pendleton.
Each candidate site was screened and ranked using the following 21
1. Passenger capacityAverage attendance at the ten team meetings was 107 with a range of 75
2. Passenger demand served
3. Air cargo and general aviation service
4. Timetable for airport development
5. Total capital cost of development per passenger
6. Local support/concerns
7. Regional support/concerns
8. State support/concerns
9. National support/concerns
10. Grass roots support/concerns
11. Aircraft noise impacts
12. Aircraft accident risk
13. Surface traffic impacts
14. Impact on the military
15. Airspace impact
16. Air quality impacts
17. Flora and fauna impacts
18. Human health/exposure to hazards
19. Water system impacts
20. Socioeconomic benefits
21. Socioeconomic costs
Using the 21 selection criteria, the study
group dropped MCAS-El Toro
from the candidate list in the second round in July 1989 because of its
low ranking among the sites not dropped in the first round.
Appendix G-1 and Table G-1-3 show the final ranking of 17 sites at
As a commercial, long-haul airport, MCAS-ET ranks 14 among the 17 sites;
as a medium-haul airport, 15 out of 17. Point scores were adjusted to
take into consideration geographic variations in the number of voting
participants from various parts of the county. As the report explains,
“A key feature of the process used to establish the weighting was a
normalizing analysis to compensate for the fact that some geographic
areas were highly represented in the Consensus Team, whiles others were
In his letter transmitting the final 312-page Final Report of March
1990 to the Orange County Board of Supervisor, Airport Site Coalition
President Leland Oliver stated, “The thrust of these recommendations is
to continue the process of establishing a new airport to serve Orange
County and its neighbors through specific government actions.”
The Airport Site Consensus team was composed of four nonprofit community
organizatons: Airport Working Group, Orange County Chamber of Commerce,
Industrial League of Orange County and the Orange County Aviation
Council. The cover letter’s return address is c/o Orange County Chamber
of Commerce, One City Blvd West, Suite 401, Orange, CA 92668
(714)634-2900. These four organizations making up the Airport Site
Coalition were chosen by the Orange County Board of Supervisors to
conduct the study as part of the Southern California Association of
Governments (SCAG) Regional Aviation System Study.
The following organizations were employed as professional study
consultants: The Planning Center, Kennedy/Jenks/Chilton, P & D
Associates, The Research Network and Mestre Greve Associates.
The Airport Site Consensus Team study was funded mainly by the Federal
Aviation Administration and the Federal Highway Administration. In
addition, the ASC raised more than $256,000 from Orange County public
and private sources.
One positive action plan recommendation received a favorable response
from ASC team members: Establish a regional airport authority by act of
the state legislature consisting of representatives from Orange,
Riverside and San Diego counties.
Appendix H of the Final Report contains team member comments.
H-32, Eugene Conser, a Leisure World community leader, made the
“Participants in the Site Consensus Program have a continuing interest
that their work not be spurned, as in the past, but activated by
reference to an official body having the interest, objectivity and power
to bring to a conclusion the purpose for which the Consensus Program was
organized. To do this, I respectfully urge that the Activating Force be
designated a Regional Airport Authority, created and empowered by State
law, at the request of boards of supervisors in response to Consensus
proposal, and having the right to participate, or not, in a joint
venture team or any other plan, consortium or combination that it might
find to be advisable or necessary in order to effectuate its purpose.
“That a required authority be established that can legally be charged
with siting and construction at one or more airports. That the data
generated by our group’s study be made to incorporate the volunteer
people who have been involved in this group in the regional authority
“. . .The Activating Force should be a Regional Airport Authority
created by state law to cover Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties.”
In response to Conser’s recommendation, the ASC Team offered these
“An intergovernmental task force is being recommended to include
levels of government suggested in the comments in order to keep the
momentum going toward a solution.
“One possibility described in the Action Plan is the formation of
"The Action Plan leaves it up to the participating governments as
nature and extent of public participation they wish to include in their
deliberations. One of the main reasons for publishing and widely
distributing the Final Report of the Site Consensus Team (including
these comments and responses) is to insure that the insight gained from
this experience is not lost.”
Summary prepared by C. David Blodgett, an ASC Team participant
3158-A Alta Vista, LagunaWoods
18 December 1999