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"San Diego Airport search hits the road"
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Airport search hits the road
The San Diego (CA) North County Times
The search for a new airport to serve the San Diego region is hitting the
On Thursday, the first in a series of town hall meetings that will take
place between this week and the fall convenes at 6:30 p.m. at the East
County Performing Arts Center in El Cajon.
The meetings are being sponsored by the agency in charge of the new airport
search, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.
"We look forward to sharing information with county residents and promoting
a discussion to learn what they have to say about the region's air
transportation issues," said Thella Bowens, the authority's president and
chief executive officer.
Thursday's scheduled two-hour session will include a presentation from
Bowens and Lemon Grove Mayor Mary Sessom, one of the nine people who make up
the authority's board of directors. The event will be moderated by a
reporter with The East County Californian newspaper.
The search for a new airport is a decades-old issue for county residents.
When the state Legislature created the authority in 2003 to take over
operations of downtown San Diego's Lindbergh Field from the San Diego port
district, it also mandated it come up with a recommendation for a new
That recommendation is due by April 2006 under the authority's own timeline
and will go to the ballot for a countywide vote in November 2006. A new
airport or an expanded Lindbergh Field is considered necessary to serve the
region's growing airline passenger and cargo demands.
Lindbergh and its single runway is forecast by the authority to be at its
maximum capacity to handle the expected increase by about the year 2020.
>From its original list of 32 potential airport sites, the authority has
identified only four remaining possible civilian locations: the expansion of
Lindbergh, a site in Campo in the southeastern portion of the county,
Borrego Springs in the far eastern part of the county, and Imperial County.
Other sites were deemed too remote or impractical, a factor that is expected
to also eliminate Borrego Springs.
The authority also has five military sites on its list, two at Miramar
Marine Corps Air Station, Camp Pendleton, North Island Naval Air Station and
March Air Reserve Base in Southwest Riverside County.
None of those sites will be considered until an ongoing nationwide military
base closure process is completed at year's end. The military has repeatedly
said none of those sites is practical and that it is uninterested in sharing
them with civilian aircraft.
Airport authority spokeswoman Diana Lucero said Tuesday that at least six
more town hall meetings are planned after Thursday. The tentative sites for
those sessions are Point Loma and Solana Beach in August, an undetermined
central county site in September, Chula Vista and a northeast county site in
October and a meeting in Alpine in November.
"We're trying to hit as many areas as we can," Lucero said. "Our ultimate
goal is to get information to as many county residents as possible so they
can make an informed decision in November 2006 on the future of the
For more information about the site selection process, see the authority's
Web site, www.san.org and click on the site selection program link.
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