San Diego (CA), Lindbergh Field- A Second Runway?

Saturday, April 2, 2005
A second Lindbergh runway? 11,000 people would have to move
The San Diego (CA) North County Times

Adding a second runway to Lindbergh Field would require moving 10,850 people and purchasing more than 1,800 acres of land, according to a report prepared for airport directors. The expansion also would force the purchase of 3,220 homes surrounding the downtown San Diego airfield, the report says, and would require the airport to take over the adjacent U.S. Marine Corps Recruit Depot.

Prepared by the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority’s operations division, the report dated April 4 appeared as an agenda item for a meeting of the authority board scheduled for Monday.

The report was obtained from the authority’s Web site on Wednesday, but it had been removed from the site on Thursday.

It was unclear why the report was taken down, and airport staffers were out of their offices Thursday in observance of Cesar E. Chavez Day, which recognizes the birthday of the late founder of the United Farm Workers.

Airport board Chairman Joe Craver said Thursday that he was unaware of the report and that it would be inappropriate for him to comment on it until the document had been formally submitted.

The nine-member authority board is working to find a site for a new regional airport or to come up with a plan to expand Lindbergh.

Lindbergh is the nation’s busiest single-runway airport and is expected to become too crowded to operate by as early as 2015.

The authority, established by the Legislature, took over supervision of the airport from the Port of San Diego in 2003 and is charged with coming up with a plan for the region’s future airport needs.

County voters are slated to vote on a location for a new airport —- or an expansion of Lindbergh —- in November 2006.

The possible sites for a new airport include an Imperial Valley desert location, an all-but-abandoned Borrego Springs site and a site in Campo. Five military sites also under consideration are March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, two sites at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego, Camp Pendleton, and North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado.

The 34-page report addressing a Lindbergh expansion includes satellite photos showing the existing airfield and overlays of what land around the airport would need to be purchased to have two 9,400-foot runways or two 12,000-foot runways.

In order to get the acreage necessary for that kind of expansion, the report says 578 acres of commercial and industrial properties around the airport would have to be acquired along with 712 acres of military property and 536 acres of residential and other properties.

The military acreage is occupied by the recruit depot. That site is considered at risk in an upcoming round of nationwide military base closures with the Pentagon slated to release its list of recommended shutterings on May 16.

The authority has agreed not to discuss any possible military sites until May 17 at the earliest, when it will convene to decide how to proceed in the wake of the base closure list. But Marine Corps Recruit Depot is not technically on the list of proposed new sites.

The report also says that expanding Lindbergh would have noise impacts on more than 5,600 acres and 21,000 homes not now affected by airport noise.

All those factors underscore why one group does not believe expansion of Lindbergh is the solution to the county’s future airport needs, said group leader John Chalker.

Chalker heads up Alliance in Support of Airport Progress in the 21st Century, a group formed in 2002 to advocate for a new airport of at least 3,000 acres.

“Our position is Lindbergh cannot meet the future demands of the region,” Chalker said Thursday. “We believe a new airport should be developed somewhere else in the county and Lindbergh should be shut down.”

The alliance he represents wants to see the land redeveloped as commercial waterfront property. The alliance includes the Carlsbad and Oceanside chambers of commerce as well as several San Diego groups and the AFL-CIO Labor Council. Chalker also serves on the airport authority’s 32-member citizen advisory group.

Authority board member Mary Sessom said Wednesday that while she had yet to see the report, she would like to see several alternatives developed for possible expansion of Lindbergh.

“All I keep hearing about is Lindbergh’s deficiencies, and I haven’t heard our staff say what could be possible,” she said. “For example, what if we prepared a plan that moved all the parking underground? How much more room would that give us?

“I think all the possibilities need to be discussed.”

A new airport would cost somewhere between $1 billion and $10 billion depending on the site, according to the airport authority. It would be paid for largely through federal grants and airport revenues.

The authority board meets at 10 a.m. Monday in the Wright Conference Room on the third floor of the airport’s Commuter Terminal No. 1.