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Overview of Airport Site, Airport Use and Approved Recreation Facility

airport aerial

The San Rafael Airport is a private airport on a 119.52-acre site located at 397-400 Smith Ranch Road.  The airport site is bordered by the north and south forks of Gallinas Creek (forks converge at the eastern edge of the airport site), McInnis Park to the north, Contempo Marin Mobile Home Park, the Captain’s Cove Condominium development, and the Santa Venetia residential neighborhood (unincorporated area to the south).  A majority of the airport site is within the City limits of San Rafael; however, portions of the property are outside the City limits (unincorporated).

airport site map

The site is developed with an active airport, which includes a runway, hangers, and support facilities.  The airport operates under a Master Use Permit issued by the City (see link to Master Use Permit below), which permits both aviation uses and operations, some limited non-aviation uses and businesses, and caretaker residences.

Beyond the developed portions of the airport facilities, the large site includes expanded areas of level, diked baylands that are bordered by perimeter levees. Ongoing maintenance of these areas is necessary and permitted for several reasons. First, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations require that the areas bordering the runway be kept clear and that the landscape be maintained for safety.  The annual safety maintenance includes discing, mowing, mulching, and clearing channels, which are permitted under the Master Use Permit.  Second, the perimeter levees require repair and topping (to meet certain elevation requirements) to minimize risks of flooding.

A new, private multi-purpose recreational facility complex (Sports Center) is approved and under construction at the airport.  The proposed facility is located on a vacant portion of the 119.52-acre airport property between the runway and the north fork of Gallinas Creek. The project would consist of an 85,700 sq ft private recreational building 39 ft, 6 in. tall (overall height) building with the follow uses: 1) a multi-purpose gymnasium area for recreational uses, including two indoor soccer/sports fields and two multi-purpose gymnasium sports courts, common locker, and restroom area on the 71,300 sq ft ground floor, and 2) an ancillary viewing area, care, restrooms, sports shop administrative offices and meeting room on a 14,400 sq ft mezzanine level.

The recreation facility includes the development of two outdoor playfields that would be developed east of the multi-purpose building, including one 200 ft x 300 ft lighted, soccer/playfield with all-weather turf and a grass warm-up field (no lights). The recreation facility improvements include the construction of a large surface parking lot and landscaping to be sited south and southwest of the multi-purpose building.

Map of Key Construction and Maintenance Activities at the Airport Site

Airport Construction & Maintenance Map

Key Milestones and Current Status of the Recreation Facility:

  • Planning Entitlements: Approved by City Council on December 17, 2012.
  • Litigation challenging the City approval of the project was filed with Marin County Superior Court (Case No. CIV1300259) on October 4, 2013. In 2014, the litigation settled between two parties through Marin County Superior Court Stipulation for Dismissal (Settlement Agreement).
  • Time extensions to the City approvals were granted on July 13, 2016 for the planning approvals incorporating modifications to permit conditions of approval to satisfy the terms of the approved Settlement Agreement.
  • A building permit for a new two-lane access bridge over Gallinas Creek issued in May 2015. The bridge work was completed in December of 2016.
  • Grading permits issued in 2016 for site grading, which are active and current. Grading for roadway and building pad was completed in 2017.  Grading for the parking lot and landscaping are underway and will be completed in Summer 2021.  Grading for the outdoor playfields has not commenced.
  • Building Permits for helix foundation piles and building foundation were issued on April 17, 2018This work is completed.
  • Building Permits for multipurpose recreation exterior building shell were issued on September 11, 2018.  The building shell is completed.
  • Building Permits for the interior “shell” (basic interior improvements) were issued in 2019 and this work is near completed.
  • Building Permits for interior tenant improvements for Gravity Vault Gym (climbing gym) were issued in 2020 and these improvements are expected to be completed by Summer 2021.

Subsequent building permits will be required for the interior improvements and all remaining site improvements. It are currently anticipated that all construction for the recreational facility will be completed by 2022.  The timing of completion and full operation of the recreation facility will depend upon the success of retaining recreation use tenants. The property owner is currently working with several, potential recreation tenants including a volleyball club.

There are numerous permit conditions of approval that require compliance prior to and/or during the construction of the project, including environmental mitigation measures that were adopted for the project as a part of the Final EIR.  See links to key documents below.

Limitations on Exterior Construction Timelines

Exterior construction of and grading for the recreation facility is limited to occur between July 1 and February 1, subject to conducting nesting surveys prior to commencement of construction.  This time limitation is required as an environmental mitigation measure specified in the Final Environmental Impact Report.  There are no seasonal construction restrictions or specific protocols for interior construction.

Hours for Construction, Site Grading and Property Maintenance

The project is subject to the standard hours for construction outlined in SRMC 8.13. This allows construction, alteration, demolition, maintenance of construction equipment, deliveries of materials or equipment, or repair activities shall be allowed between the hours of:

  • 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.- Monday through Friday
  • 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.- Saturday
  • Sundays and federal holidays – Prohibited

Construction noise at any point outside of the property plane of the project shall not exceed ninety (90) dBA.  The point of contact for noise complaints as required by the conditions of approval San Rafael Airport/Roots Construction at 415-472-7700 or 415-850-5099. They are to be the first point of contact if there are noise issues related to the construction of the recreational facility building.

If issues still arise after contacting the noise coordinator for the project, then the next contact would be the City of San Rafael. If noise is occurring outside City Hall business hours (M-F, 8:30-5pm), then you would need to call the Police Department non- emergency line so that the noise can be verified (415) 485-3000.

The contact at the city regarding work outside prescribed hours for construction should be directed to the Building Division at (415) 485-3367 or

In addition, there are conditions of approval and mitigation measures required for the project prior to occupancy and during ongoing use of the facility. The current conditions of approval applicable for the project are contained in the City Council resolution 13479, as amended/revised by Zoning Administrator meeting minutes 7/13/16, as provided immediately below.

There is separate construction activity occurring on portions of the site to the levees that are in county jurisdiction and are permitted and regulated by the County of Marin and subject to oversight by the County of Marin.

Key City Documents

Signed/Approved Planning/Land Use Entitlements:

Environmental Impact Reports:

San Rafael Airport Recreational Facility Final Environmental Impact Report

San Rafael Airport Recreational Facility Draft Environmental Impact Report

 Project Plans:

Project Plans – Architectural, Civil and Landscaping Plans

City Council Hearing (December 17, 2012) – Merits

City Council Hearing (December 3, 2012) – Merits

City Council Hearing (August 6, 2012) – Merits

The August 6th meeting did not occur and was continued to date uncertain. See press release. No staff report was published for this meeting,

Planning Commission Meeting (June 6, 2012) – Merits

Planning Commission Hearing (May 29, 2012) Merits

Staff Report:

Planning Commission Hearing (March 27, 2012) – Merits

Planning Commission Hearing (January 24, 2012) – Final EIR

Planning Commission Hearing (November 15, 2011) – Final EIR

Staff Report on Final EIR
(See link above for actual Final EIR document)

Planning Commission Hearing (May 12, 2009)- Draft EIR

Staff Report on Draft EIR
(See link above for actual Final EIR document)

Public Comments Available at City Hall

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