Scottsdale Airport Noise Information

In addition to earlier posts on this subject, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association publishes a great

Earlier posts (they contain many links):

Here is the text of an FAA Grant Compliance Complaint I have filed.

Tony Garcia
Federal Aviation Administration
Western-Pacific Region Airports Division
15000 Aviation Boulevard
Room 3012
Lawndale, California 90261
Fax Number: (310) 725-6847

Mr. Garcia,

Last night, 10/18/2011, the Scottsdale City Council approved a city “general plan” (land use) amendment and a rezoning case for a NEW residential entitlement for a high-rise residential project within the Scottsdale Airpark. The Airpark surrounds and buffers Scottsdale Airport (“KSDL”) from other land uses in the vicinity, including residential uses.

City Council Agenda:

Zocallo Residential:

KSDL has received federal aviation grants, and has in-turn signed grant assurances to the FAA in order to secure those grants. I believe last night’s approval constitutes a violation of FAA Grant Assurance 21:

“It [the City of Scottsdale as “sponsor” of KSDL] will take appropriate action, to the extent reasonable, including the adoption of zoning laws, to restrict the use of land adjacent to or in the immediate vicinity of the airport to activities and purposes compatible with normal airport operations, including landing and takeoff of aircraft. In addition, if the project is for noise compatibility program implementation, it will not cause or permit any change in land use, within its jurisdiction, that will reduce its compatibility, with respect to the airport, of the noise compatibility program measures upon which Federal funds have been expended.”

This is just the latest in a disturbing trend of NEW residential entitlements approved by this City Council within the Airport Influence Area, including another one last night, and even another two weeks ago. The latter is within spitting distance of a development that generates a large percentage (if not most) of the noise complaints handled by KSDL staff every year: Ironwood Village.

Crossroads East:
DC Ranch Parcel 1.2:

Additionally on last night’s City Council agenda there were two other land use cases involving residential entitlements similar to Zocallo.

Scottsdale Airpark Community:

These two cases were continued to next week’s council meeting due to the length of last night’s meeting. However, both appear certain to be approved with a similar vote count. Together, these three cases represent over 1500 new residential units within a distance from the Airport that is less than the length of the runway.

The Scottsdale City Council’s 6-1 vote approving last night’s case proceeded in spite of written and spoken opposition from airport users, on-airport businesses protected by grant assurances, the AOPA ASN representative, the National Business Aircraft Association, the Arizona Business Aircraft Association, a sitting Council member who is a pilot and CFII, and members of the Scottsdale Airport Advisory Commission. Two weeks ago the Airport Commission voted ago 4-2 against recommending these projects for approval.

In addition, the Airport Advisory Commission AND the City Council resoundingly rejected residential entitlements on the Zocallo parcel a year ago.

These new residential entitlements cut directly against the purpose of the Scottsdale Airpark, which comprises commercial and industrial zoning with heavy emphasis on aviation-related uses. These new entitlements also cut directly against the City’s published land use policy to protect the airport from residential encroachment. Most importantly, however, these new residential entitlements are directly contrary to KSDL’s published Part 150 policies.

These new residential units will inevitably lead to noise complaints against KSDL within days of occupancy. KSDL has seen this pattern of occupy-and-complain before from residential encroachment just across the border Scottsdale shares with the City of Phoenix, from the aforementioned Ironwood Village, and from the Grayhawk development north of KSDL.

KSDL is not unique in this pattern. Airports in the Phoenix area have closed or experienced major changes as a result of encroachment and noise complaints, including one with which I was intimately involved: Williams AFB. Willie was a tremendous economic engine for the Southeast Valley of the Sun. Successor Gateway Airport has struggled since its inception.

Echoing another recurring theme across the country, the current members of the Scottsdale City Council simply don’t understand what is at risk. Further, they have ignored input from their own appointed subject matter experts.

Like Willie to the Southeast Valley, KSDL has profound positive impact on the quality of life of Scottsdale residents, to say nothing of its importance as reliever airport in the National Airspace System. Residential encroachment threatens both. As a Scottsdale Airport user, a resident of Scottsdale who enjoys the economic benefits of KSDL, and a taxpayer who has invested in the airport with my tax dollars, I ask for your assistance.

The Zocallo approval has a brief period in which it can be challenged before it becomes legally binding. I believe a little education from the Airports Division on both the legal obligations of the City of Scottsdale as sponsor benefiting from FAA grants and the reasons behind the grant assurances might help the Scottsdale City Council rethink this unwise decision before it is too late.

Thank you for your assistance with this matter.


John Washington


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  1. John is right. Do your history. Every time you allow residents to buy and live next to an airport, the inevitable happens. They complain about the noise. The airport was there first. Any city council allowing such zoning overlap is either stupid, greedy for additional tax revenue or both.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Dennis. I don’t know how many it will take before Lane and the Council will listen, because as Mike says, $ talks.

  2. In regard to the Mayor’s request for your resignation from the Airport Advisory Commission…I would like to know just why the FAA as well as aviation related organizations seem to have been left out of the equation in terms of seeking consultation when it came to City Council arriving at a decision regarding the building of apartments near the Air Park? Pardon my suspicion, but wouldn’t it be prudent, if not down right essential before making any decisions relating to construction near runways, manditory. Something smells bad. Maybe it’s one city official’s Palmade?

  3. John,

    It seems to me that the mayor may actually have the potential of your letter exactly backward: You are attempting to protect the City of Scottsdale from the blowback from the new apartment dwellers and then from the FAA.

    1. Absolutely right, Glenn. I think the Mayor’s agenda here is whatever the developer-funded, zoning attorney-funded Chamber of Commerce tells him to do.

      To paraphrase Robert Duvall’s character, “The Chamber don’t surf.” None of those guys fly airplanes. And the Mayor is not a pilot, in spite of what he said at the council meeting. They are an opportunistic organization going after the easy money of the moment, and that comes from developers who never had a more effective lobby than the Chamber.

      The folks with REAL money who own and fly jets (and I’m not one of them, unfortunately) wouldn’t waste it on the Chamber. Unfortunately, those owners and operators don’t pay much attention (yet) to local politics. We are trying to change that.

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