OCEANSIDE- Encroachment Theatens Airport

Saturday, April 2, 2005
Development in Oceanside could threaten city’s airport
By Lola Sherman
The San Diego (CA) Union-Tribune

OCEANSIDE – Hoped-for major development on the site of the old Valley Drive-In movie theater could threaten the existence of Oceanside Municipal Airport. Councilwoman Esther Sanchez doesn’t think it will come to that.

Neither does Councilman Rocky Chavez, who recently hosted a meeting between the prospective developer and members of the Oceanside Airport Association.

However, Sanchez said yesterday, if she had to make a choice between the airport and development on the 90-acre drive-in site near the eastern end of the runway, she’d have to choose the development.

“I think we have to put economic development first,” Sanchez said. “We need jobs. We need economic development.”

Chavez said his priorities are public safety, quality of life and then economic development.

Although no development plans have been presented officially to city officials, there has been talk of a Costco or a Sam’s Club, a Borders Books, a Victoria’s Secret store and some residential units on the drive-in property.

Councilman Jack Feller said yesterday that he thinks there would be sentiment on the council to abandon the airport if it would interfere with development of the drive-in site. Feller said he would not vote to close the airport.

The issue arose because the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority is drafting a “land-use compatibility plan,” a blueprint of land uses that should be permitted near airports and their recommended distances from airports.

Fewer homes and other structures would be permitted close to an airport.

A City Council can override the authority’s plan with a four-fifths vote, and that’s what Sanchez believes could happen in Oceanside.

Council members will discuss the issue at their meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday in chambers at 300 N. Coast Highway. Their comments are due to the airport authority Friday.

The authority’s land-use plan must be completed by June 30.