On April 26, 2010, the Transportation Research Board published a three volume Airport Cooperative Research Program (“ACRP”) report on “Enhancing Airport Land Use Compatibility.” The authors’ mandate was “to investigate and present the current breadth and depth of knowledge surrounding land uses around airports and to develop guidance to protect airports from incompatible land uses that impair current and future airport and aircraft operations and safety and constrain airport development.” Report, Forward.
It should be emphasized that this publication provides guidance only to local jurisdictions. It is not regulatory, because the FAA cannot control land use planning in jurisdictions around airports. As FAA has often acknowledged, land use planning is a purely local function. If FAA were to presume to control land use planning off airport, it would also be subject to legal and constitutional constraints on land use planning such as the deprivation of a landowners’ reasonable use and enjoyment of property (“nuisance”) and/or the taking of property without just compensation (“inverse condemnation”), a result FAA wants to avoid at all costs.
Consequently, research concerning land use planning around airports should include, and, in fact, be targeted at, local land use ordinances and regulations such as the airport land use planning statutes in California (Public Utilities Code § 21670, et seq.).