San Diego Doesn't Want Bases Considered for Airport

Monday, November 22, 2004
City doesn’t want bases considered for airport
By Janine Z??iga
The San Diego (CA) Union-Tribune

IMPERIAL BEACH ? The city has passed a resolution, despite objections from the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, opposing the inclusion of active military bases in the airport site selection process. The Imperial Beach City Council voted unanimously at a meeting last week to approve the resolution, which notes that one in 10 residents in the San Diego region is directly tied to military payroll, and that the percentage in Imperial Beach is significantly higher than the region as a whole.

Officials with the airport authority, charged with developing criteria to select a site for a new local airport, visited with Mayor Diane Rose recently and wrote a letter urging the city not to adopt the resolution.

“I understand the airport authority,” Rose said. “They don’t want anyone making waves while they are developing the criteria to establish these sites.”

Yet, Rose said, the airport authority refuses to acknowledge national security issues connected to active-duty military bases and is not taking into account the economic impact if an active military base is chosen.

“We’re trying to get those issues into the discussion,” Rose said. “They’re only looking at half of the equation. When they’re talking about closing the base, they’re not considering payroll, Department of Defense jobs, the overall economic impact to the region.”

In the letter, dated Nov. 15, airport authority President Thella Bowens said state law requires it to review all possible sites, including current military installations, that may become available for civilian use.

Removing the military bases from the list of potential airport sites, “at this point in the process, would undermine the integrity of an open and transparent public process,” Bowens said.

Further, Bowens noted that the airport authority has postponed all study of military installations until the Department of Defense releases its current round of Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, which will be completed in the spring.

Rose said the airport authority announced recently that it may begin narrowing the 10 remaining sites in January. The City Council also voted Wednesday to write a response to the airport authority’s letter.