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FAA Approval & Avigation Easements When Buying Land or Building Near an Airport

FAA Approval & Avigation Easements

Good morning. Today I want to get you an update on the avigation easements that we talked about last week. If you’re buying land near an airport, getting ready to build a custom home near an airport, or really, build any structure near an airport, you’re going to want to look into an avigation easement. I also want to get you an update on the FAA requirements and what that timeframe looks like.

Building Restrictions Near Airports

Since checking with the County of San Diego, we have found it to be important that you check on this before you buy the land. Is the easement already on the property? When you pull a title report you will see if this is here. This particular property that we’re working with right now had a home burn down during the Witch Creek Fire in 2007. Recently we found an email from the head planner at the San Diego County Building Department from 2017 stating that there was not going to be an avigation easement required due to the fact that it was a burned down property, even though a new owner had purchased the property at that time. However, the County is now saying that the avigation easement is required because it is not owned by the original owner when the home burned down.

So even though we have this email stating that it is not going to need an avigation easement, they are now requiring it because the original owner is not the one requesting the rebuild. So, if the property you want is near any airport, you must take into consideration, before you close on the land, check with the County of San Diego, check with the FAA, and check with the airport to make sure that you can get a permit based on the location and height of the home that you want to build. Include this research into your due diligence. This could cause a major issue buying a piece of land and then not being able to build on it. Okay, that’s an update on the avigation easement, and that they are going to require us to do that.

Avigation Easement Requirements

There is a deposit of approximately $600-$700 that you must give to the County and then they start the paperwork once the deposit is received. There’s an additional step that came in as a correction from the County of San Diego Planning Department.

We had to electronically submit the following online to the FAA:

  • House pad elevation on the lot (1,623’ above sea level)
  • Structure height that would be built (27’ to the top ridge)

This lets them know if the structure will affect flight patterns of aircraft or potential hazards.

So, we submitted a PDF of our house plans with the elevations to confirm that the structure heights are correct. After submission, they rejected our application. After calling and emailing back and forth, we discovered that this is just a standard objection to all submission.

Additional Requirements from the FAA

The County came back and said that we had to publicly circulate this for 37 days to make it known to the public for any objections. After this time period is complete, then the FAA makes a ruling on it and says that you can or cannot build. The FAA told us that we could build because all these other homes are rebuilding in that area as well and that a previous home was there already. Regardless, the County said that you must go through this process. To ensure this process was complete, we had to send them an email requesting that they circulate this publicly, upon which they post it on their website, it’s up for comment, and at that point, once that timeframe passes, they make a ruling, and then that correction is signed off because the County of San Diego Planning Department is able to look that information up.

Land Due Diligence

This is a little bit of a process, but that avigation easement needs to be put in place before the planning department will completely sign off all the corrections and planning. Again, this is really important to make sure that you get this done in the due diligence period of buying land anytime you’re near an airport because 37 days to get the FAA to sign off on building is significant compared to the typical 17 days that you’ll see on an inspection period in a regular real estate contract. Make sure you get this checked out.


I hope that helps; we’ll get you updates as things progress. If you want more information on how to buy land, building a custom home, building an ADU or remodeling your home, you can visit our website at tfgonline.com. Thanks for your time today. Have a great rest of your day.

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