More Disclosure Sought for Those Who Buy Homes Near San Luis Obispo Airport

It's an old story. Cities and counties build airports in the boonies, where they will not disturb the town-dwellers. Then time passes and people move ever closer to the airport.

They start complaining about the noise and the danger.

It has happened in San Luis Obispo, as developers snap up land south of town near the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport. Those who work there field complaints regularly from nearby residents.

There's not much they can do about an airport and houses that already are in place. But members of the county's Airport Land Use Commission want to make sure that anyone who moves in near the airport in the future knows in detail what they will face.

With that in mind, commissioners said this week there should be far more detail in the disclosure documents for those who move into new developments near the airport.

Sellers already must tell buyers when they are buying a house near an airport. But the new warning, if commissioners and the city formalize it, would go beyond general disclosure to specifics.

In existing warnings, "We haven't mentioned everything that might be objectionable to people who might move in to the vicinity," said Commissioner Richard Pottratz. He said he didn't want people moving in and then complaining "Hey, you didn't tell me that you'd be revving your engines at 2 a.m."

The discussion Tuesday centered on the proposed Tumbling Waters development near Orcutt Road and Broad Street. It's a 178-unit project of small single-family homes, duplexes and condominiums that will be within a mile and a half of the airport.

If the commission and the city agree on the wording, the warning would be "project-specific" to Tumbling Waters, Commissioner Robert Tefft said. However, commissioners believe it could be used as a template for other projects in San Luis Obispo and at the county's other two airports, in Paso Robles and Oceano.

Tefft, who worked with the city of San Luis Obispo on the broader disclosure, said Tumbling Waters is near a helicopter training area and would-be home buyers should know that.

A Tumbling Waters spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

Tefft said six of the seven commissioners are pilots who fly over the vicinity regularly and know what activities would disturb residents.

Among disclosures that the commission and the city are suggesting for Tumbling Waters:

The site is within a mile and a half of the airport and "may be subject to noise and vibration from aircraft flying at relatively low altitudes."

There may be "repetitive overflight by student pilots practicing take-offs and landings in fixed-wing aircraft."

"The Broad Street corridor is a designated practice area for training of helicopter pilots" and "may be subjected to repetitive overflight by helicopters at low altitudes and to the noise and vibration associated with such operations."

Helicopters are specifically exempted from FAA-designated minimum altitude requirements," and "there is no required minimum altitude for aircraft that are taking off from or approaching to land at an airport."

The commission will discuss the disclosure again at its Feb. 15 meeting, with representatives of the city of San Luis Obispo participating.

You can reach Bob Cuddy at 781-7909 or

See a draft disclosure statement that may be given to homeowners before they move near the airport.

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