SAN DIEGO–Airport Authority Puts Off Site Decision

Airport Authority puts off site decision
The North County (CA) Times

SAN DIEGO—- The San Diego Regional Airport Authority will wait until November to decide whether a site in the Cleveland National Forest should be studied as a potential area to build a new regional airport. The authority, charged with finding a location for a new regional airport, was set Monday to weigh in on the site in Corte Madera Valley, about 45 miles east of San Diego and five miles south of Interstate 8. But the board’s decision was delayed to give board members time to visit the site before voting.

The authority is required by state law to submit an airport site recommendation for a countywide vote by 2006. Lindbergh Field is expected to exceed its runway capacity by 2012.

The authority’s staff recommended the site be added to a list of nine others. But last week, the authority’s strategic planning committee, which includes four voting board members, expressed reservations about the site, which is in the middle of the national forest.

Chairperson Joseph Carver said at Monday’s meeting that the board should visit the site before deciding whether it should make the cut. The board will also visit two other potential airport sites in Borrego Springs and Campo.

A number of East County residents said Monday that the Corte Madera site was wrong for an airport and would destroy precious natural resources.

“When you start taking the backcountry away … you start destroying society,” said Carmen Lucas, who lives on Lucas Ridge in the Laguna Mountains.

Craig Cowie, recreation and lands-staff officer for the Cleveland National Park, said an airport would create significant concerns for the park and those who use it for recreation and would damage the park’s habitat.

The site surfaced as a possible airport location after a recently completed computer analysis of the county’s American Indian reservations, state parks and U.S. Forest Service lands revealed seven more areas where an airport could be built. Most were in the far eastern and northeastern parts of the county.

Because of environmental and regulatory difficulties, only the Corte Madera Valley site was recommended to the list of sites designated for more study.

The sites currently under review are the March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County; two sites at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego; Camp Pendleton, north of Oceanside; North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado; an unspecified location in the Imperial County desert; the existing downtown San Diego airport; a site in Anza Borrego, 95 miles northeast of the existing airport and a site in Campo, 75 miles east of the airport.

The computer analysis reviewed the areas based on six criteria, including population density, obstructions to air traffic, a level ground, noise, tide pools and marine areas.

The authority will vote on the Corte Madera site at its next meeting at 10 a.m., Nov. 1 in the commuter terminal of the airport.