Late Fall 2019
On September 10, the Orange County Board of Supervisors (Board) advanced the John Wayne Airport General Aviation Improvement Program (GAIP) a step further by approving the Request for Proposals (RFP) for Full and Limited Service Fixed Base Operators. The RFP includes the land use restrictions the Board adopted on June 25 to ensure a significant portion of the airport remains for use by light general aviation.
A key part of the Board’s decision involved whether to include additional specificity in the RFP regarding what structures will ultimately be built at the airport. The City of Newport Beach (City), the City of Costa Mesa, aviation-focused community groups and the So Cal Pilots asked for the inclusion of more details into the RFP to provide clear direction to potential proposers. The City also examined the legal issues and we believe our request for more detail in the RFP was well within the law. The County, however, holds a different legal opinion, and the Board felt constrained by the law from including the precise facilities and mix of structures that will be built under the GAIP.
We were disappointed that our requested details didn’t get included in the RFP, but based upon the Board’s discussion, we believe the Supervisors understand the needs and desires of the communities surrounding the airport and the So Cal Pilots. Many of their comments and questions centered on issues Newport Beach raised and also involved maintaining the current mix of general aviation at the airport.
Since the RFP has been finalized, the City has been meeting with the potential bidders on the fixed base operations as they develop their proposals. The City of Newport Beach will oppose any proposal that does not support our community’s best interests.
September 2019 Update
The Request for Proposals for the Fixed Base Operators was reviewed by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, September 10. Please read our Aviation Activities Update for information about what the City intends to request of the Board, links to the Board agenda and more.
June 25, 2019 Update
On Tuesday, June 25, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved a plan for its General Aviation Improvement Program (GAIP) that includes many of the elements of the project alternative supported by Newport Beach and other cities impacted by John Wayne Airport’s operations.
The now-approved plan, proposed by Supervisor Michelle Steel, was a late addition to the Board of Supervisor’s agenda packet. The City of Newport Beach was made aware of it Monday morning.
The plan calls for:
- Limiting the full-service, Fixed Base Operators to two;
- Limiting the limited-service Fixed Base Operators to one new and one existing; and
- Preserving space at John Wayne Airport for small general aviation planes by imposing land use and lease restrictions on certain airport parcels so that more than 50 percent of the airport area available for general aviation will be dedicated to light general aviation aircraft. In doing so, the plan will help to preserve the presence of small general aviation (twin- and single-engine) aircraft, and thereby limit the amount of space for general aviation jets, at the airport.
The plan also includes a General Aviation Facility for processing international passengers, but its hours of operations will be limited to 5 a.m. to 12 a.m. While the City wanted the facility excluded from the project, it believes the limited hours of operation is a reasonable compromise.
The plan approved today is significantly better for Newport Beach than Alternative 1, the project alternative recommended by County staff and the alternative the City believes would have the most impact on the community.
The City and some of its community groups desire to see additional constraints placed on the project, such as:
- Limiting the size of the hangars to ensure they are available to smaller aircraft;
- Limiting the hours of operation of the full-service Fixed Base Operators; and
- Moving commercial operations, such as JetSuiteX, to the main terminal.
The County supervisors heard those ideas and noted that they could be considered for inclusion during the Request for Proposal stage of the project.
June 20, 2019 Update
The GAIP item is on the Board of Supervisor's June 25 Agenda. County staff submitted the same staff report, that recommends project Alternative 1, as it did for the Board's May 7 meeting.
The City of Newport Beach opposes Alternative 1 in its original form, but remains willing to consider the “modified Alternative 1” as proposed by Supervisor Do, or another plan that will not subject the communities under the airport’s arrival and departure corridors to additional noise and pollution impacts.
Specifically, the City is looking for the Board to adopt a plan based on the principles of Alternative 3 (the City’s preferred alternative):
- No more than two (2) full-service Fixed Based Operators
- One (1) new and one (1) existing limited-service Fixed Base Operators
- No General Aviation Facility (for processing international general aviation passengers)
- Increased hangar space for small general aviation planes
- Maintain the current “GA mix”, meaning, keep the current ratio of light general aviation aircraft (single and twin engine) and general aviation jets.
The City has received a number of questions about or related to the GAIP. You can find our latest Q & A here.
May 16, 2019 Update
See our documents and resources page for op-eds, letters, presentations, newsletters and more.
The General Aviation Improvement Program item will now return to the Board of Supervisors for further consideration on Tuesday, June 25. It will not go before the Board on May 21, as was originally announced.
May 8, 2019 Update
On May 7, after taking public comments and deliberating, the Board of Supervisors decided to continue the General Aviation Improvement Program item to a future meeting.
The cities of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach had City Council representatives present who spoke in favor of Alternative 3. The City of Newport Beach also had its outside counsel speak about some of the issues raised in the letter the City sent to the Board on May 3. (Laguna Beach and Tustin sent letters in support of Alt. 3 and the Huntington Beach City Council voted to support Alt. 3 on May 6.) There was a strong showing of community members, but there wasn’t a clear consensus behind one alternative or concept. Some supported the So Cal Pilot’s proposal (calls for 3 FBOs and more space for light GA), others sought to delay the Board's vote, and some supported Alternative 3. No one spoke in favor of Alternative 1.
Supervisor Andrew Do then proposed a compromise - a modified Alternative 1 - in an effort to address some of the concerns raised. After further discussion, the Board decided to continue the item to give airport staff time to analyze the proposal and determine if it is in alignment with the environmental document. City of Newport Beach attorneys are also reviewing and analyzing what was proposed. The City will continue to work with the County and advocate the elements we believe will best protect our community.
The table below (using the EIR’s 2026 forecasts for the alternatives) compares Alternative 1, Alternative 3 and the Proposal presented at the May 7 Board meeting.
John Wayne Airport is considering modernizing its general aviation facilities.
The proposed improvements include:
- Modifications to buildings and an airfield roadway to comply with current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards for airport design
- Provisions for a General Aviation facility which is a screening facility for Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, for international travel, in addition to provisions for a general aviation terminal
- Provisions for up to three full-service, Fixed Base Operators
- Provisions for a flight school with tie-down areas
- Provisions for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department air support facility
- Provisions for a self-service fuel facility for general aviation aircraft
- Retention of the existing general aviation fuel farm, which is located on the southeast side of the airport.
All improvements are proposed to be confined to the existing airport footprint. You can learn more about the program at ocair.com/generalaviation/gaimprovement.
The City has been aware of and began tracking this proposal as early as March 2017. City representatives attended the initial project scoping meeting on April 12, 2017 and also provided a detailed comment letter in response to the Notice of Preparation for the environmental impact report. The topic was covered in the City’s April 2017 Aviation Update and was a subject of discussion before the City’s Aviation Committee and two community groups. The issues of noise and air quality were key items for discussion and comment.
Draft Environmental Impact Report
The County of Orange prepared a Draft Program Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed General Aviation Improvement Program (GAIP) in the fall of 2018. The draft EIR public review and comment period began on September 20, 2018 and closed on November 21, 2018. City staff and consultants reviewed the Draft EIR for potential impacts to Newport Beach.
The City submitted a comment letter on the Draft EIR to JWA on November 16, 2018. Four Newport Beach community organizations also submitted comment letters on the Draft EIR and those can be found on the Documents and Resources page (see Community Organizations' Letters). The Draft EIR is available for public review at ocair.com/deir627.
The County issued its responses to comments on April 9, 2019. You can access the information at ocair.com/generalaviation/gaimprovement.
City Review and City Council Action
After reviewing the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the GAIP, City of Newport Beach staff and consultants believe the GAIP will expand and intensify operations in areas of JWA that now support light general aviation. The Project will also increase the number of corporate and private jets that depart JWA, resulting in potentially negative impacts on communities surrounding the airport. Pending possible further environmental review, project Alternative 3, as presented in the DEIR, would be the least impactful on Newport Beach neighborhoods.
At its March 12, 2019 meeting, the Newport Beach City Council discussed the GAIP and authorized Mayor Diane Dixon to send a letter to the Orange County Board of Supervisors requesting the Supervisors, after conducting the project specific environmental review referenced above, adopt project Alternative 3 as presented in the DEIR for the JWA GAIP. (Mayor Dixon's March 25, 2019 letter.
JWA GAIP Public Meetings
Who: Orange County Board of Supervisors
Contact the Board:
April 6 JWA Town Hall
Who: Supervisor Michelle Steel and JWA staff