History of Tustin Legacy/Former MCAS Tustin


Located in the heart of Orange County, the nearly 1,600 acre former Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Tustin was commissioned in 1942 and played a critical role in Navy and Marine aviation for over 50 yeMCAS Tustin 1950'sars.  In 1991, a portion of the former MCAS Tustin was selected for closure, and additional portions of the facility were selected for closure in 1993.  In late 1991, the City of Tustin was selected as the Lead Agency, or Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA), and was charged with preparing the required reuse planning documents.  On July 3, 1999, MCAS Tustin was officially closed, 57 years after the base and its iconic hangars arose from the farm fields of Orange County.  

After years of extensive study and public outreach, a Reuse Plan was adopted by the community in 1996 which was subsequently amended and adopted also as a zoning document entitled the MCAS Tustin Specific Plan/Reuse Plan in 2003 and has been subsequently amended.  The document includes detailed planning standards, policies, regulations, and implementation strategies to guide the reuse and the development of the site. The ultimate build-out of the Tustin Legacy project is expected over 20+ years.

“Tustin Hangars: Titans of History”

Documentary Video - The Tustin Hangars: Titans of History, a 25 minute award winning video documentary featuring the acquisition of the former Marine Corps Air Station Tustin by the U.S. Navy and the design, building and life of the Tustin hangars premiered on September 21, 2009. Over 200 members of the community attended the premier, many of whom commented on the superb quality of the presentation and how moved they were by the documentary which revisited WWII, the catalyst for the acquisition of the base and construction of these icons of Tustin. The hangars continue to be under the purview of the U.S. Navy. Their disposition as part of the Tustin Legacy Redevelopment Project has not been finalized. 

Written Documentary - The City of Tustin and County of Orange have recently published a written history of the Lighter-than-Air Blimp Hangars at the former Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Tustin entitled “The Tustin Hangars: Titans of History, a historical account of the MCAS Tustin Hangars.” Approved by the Department of the Navy, State Office of Historic Preservation (SHPO) and Federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the document does an excellent job of conveying the sense of time and place that the hangars represent. The document is a well-written, thoughtful piece that captures the architectural and military importance of the structures to the people of California.

Environmental Remediation

Former MCAS Tustin was extensively used for agriculture prior to being commissioned in 1942 for a lighter-than-air patrol base and re-commissioned in 1951 to support helicopter operations.  Physical improvements installed over the years to support the mission of MCAS Tustin included: approximately 200 buildings and structures; a 3,000-foot runway, aircraft parking aprons; and aircraft maintenance shops.  Support facilities, including military housing, occupied approximately 1,100 acres of the approximately 1,500 acres of the former MCAS Tustin.  The remaining approximately 400 acres of the former MCAS Tustin was undeveloped and leased for commercial agricultural use.  

During the operation of former MCAS Tustin, certain contaminants were released into the soil and groundwater primarily resulting from, but not limited to, solvents and jet fuel supporting the base operations, and from pesticides associated with the agricultural uses. Since the initiation of the “Navy Assessment and Control of Installation Pollutants Program” in 1980 (which later became the current Installation Restoration Program (IRP)), the Navy has successfully completed numerous site investigations and remedial actions; however, contaminated groundwater plumes (VIEW MAP) remain.  The chemicals of concern (COC) remaining in the groundwater are generally a result of fuel and solvents previously used in the operation of former MCAS Tustin. 

Remediation continues to be undertaken by the Department of the Navy under oversight of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the California EPA (Department of Substances Control (DTSC) and Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB)).  Information pertaining to the past and present remediation efforts can be found by visiting the plans, documents and links page.

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