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Sounding Board: The Airport

Daily Transcript Question: The strategic planning committee of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority announced that the expansion of Lindbergh Field is not an option. Given that finding, the airport will likely need to be relocated. Assuming the airport could be moved to any appropriate site in the county -- such as existing civilian or military airport sites or available open space -- where would you recommend the airport be relocated and why?


Four years ago, I proposed a site for a new regional airport that we can all live with. Since then, millions of dollars have been spent to pay for more studies and high-priced salaries of people who are considering such boondoggle sites as the Imperial County desert and even a floating airport.

For all the time, energy, and money spent in finding a site for the new airport, one area continues to be the best choice. In the heart of San Diego County, there is a site where an international airport can be built to the satisfaction of residents, transportation planners, environmental interests and the military.

The land is east of Scripps Ranch and the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS), Miramar, south of Poway, north of Santee, and west of Highway 67. Preserved by the extensive boundaries of the Marine Corps Air Station, this land is suited for a project of this scope. When completed the airport would provide two runways of 12,000 feet each that could handle any size passenger or cargo aircraft.

Access to the airport would be possible from Interstates 8 and 15 and highways 52 and 56. There is another possible connection from the east if a third north-south freeway is built. Additionally, a rail line already runs to Miramar and could be extended to the new airport.

Part of what makes this plan resident and homeowner-friendly, is that it keeps large air traffic away from major residential portions of the city. By the time planes pass over residential districts they will have achieved sufficient altitude to protect Scripps Ranch and Poway from noise pollution. As for military impacts, the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station would remain intact.

A workable plan is possible to protect the station and its airspace.

With this new facility the region would have the open space necessary to continue runway improvements, provide additional terminals, and handle cargo vital to the economic growth of this region. Lindbergh Field would become a commuter facility, and existing airports at Palomar, Montgomery Field, and Gillespie Field would continue their important role in general aviation.

-- Bill Horn

Supervisor -- Fifth District, San Diego County Board of Supervisors


ASAP21 (the Alliance in Support of Airport Progress in the 21st Century) believes that it's too early to support a specific site within San Diego County because the Airport Authority hasn't even begun to study and review the various military bases in the region and their potential use as either a full replacement for Lindbergh Field or as some type of civilian-military joint use airport.

Hopefully this information -- and the completed studies of the civilian sites at Campo, the Imperial Valley, and Borrego Springs -- will be available early next year so the Airport Authority can seek guidance from the voters at the November 2006 election.

We understand the frustration of the general public who believe that a military airbase is the obvious solution to the region's airport problem, but there is no easy solution as politicians try to balance competing military and civilian economic interests.

The importance of locating the airport within the county cannot be over emphasized.

An environmentally sound, international airport is a tremendous economic engine that impacts the region's standard of living and quality of life. The manufacturing businesses, the tourist/convention industry and the military/defense sector all rely on the airport to support their passenger and air cargo needs everyday. We cannot allow any of those economic sectors to suffer when the airport exceeds its capacity in 10-15 years and causes unacceptable delays.

We believe that intelligent people can craft a win-win solution for all stakeholders involved in this issue, and we believe that this question should be reserved for early next year once the analysis has been completed by the Airport Authority.

-- John Chalker

President, ASAP21


None of the land locations are logical options because of a multitude of reasons. Access to far away from populated areas, infrastructure limitations, air space limitations, non-availability of military bases, environmental constraints, political opposition, cost, relocations of large numbers of the population and last, but not least, not in my back yard (NIMBY) attitudes from the majority of the public at any land location.

Solution: A floating airport (www.floatingairport.org).

Benefits: Not in anybody's but the fishes' backyard, unlimited room for expansion not only for an airport, but any ancillary or airport supporting uses and most importantly replacement of scarce land with a land substitute. Close enough to not only serve the densely populated areas of San Diego County but if located any where from Del Mar north, it could serve major portions of Orange County and Southwest Riverside County. Route 52, Route 56, Route 78 and Route 76 all currently terminate at the coast and there could be multiple access points by ferry, underground tunnel, etc.

Any land location will incur much greater resistance than a location on the ocean. If we can send men to the moon we certainly have the capability to create a floating airport. Initially it may cost more than a land location but its long-term ability to expand at will and the almost complete lack of impact on populated areas will make it worth the long-term investment.

Offsetting the cost will be the tremendous benefits received by using Lindberg Field for alternative uses.

-- David R. Shibley

Real estate broker and land use consultant


New Section: Sounding Board


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The Daily Transcript introduces Sounding Board, a regular opinion page feature focusing on current issues. Send your responses to soundingboard@sddt.com.

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