Oceanside Staff Recommends Airport Operator

Saturday, March 15, 2008
Oceanside staff recommends airport operator
Airport association and neighborhood group have a different favorite
The San Diego (CA) North County Times

Three companies answered the city’s call: Los Angeles-based Airport Property Ventures; Santa Monica-based American Airports Corp.; and CMTS, a Culver City-based group that put together a six-company partnership called Airport Operators International LLC.

CMTS was ruled out because its plan requires the city to chip in for infrastructure improvements, a city report states.

On Wednesday, city staff will recommend that the council authorize negotiations with Airport Property Ventures, which proposed a 50-year ground lease, with two 10-year options. That company’s experience lies mostly in the development of large airports, a city report states.

The politically active Oceanside Airport Association, a group of pilots and airport supporters, will endorse American Airport Corp., because it has more experience with small airfields, said association Vice President Gordon Nesbitt.

The company manages six airports, five of which are in Los Angeles county, a city report said.

“They got glowing recommendations,” Nesbitt said.

That said, Airport Property Ventures could probably do a “reasonable job,” Nesbitt said.

American Airports Corp. proposed a 40-year lease with two five-year extensions. The company says it would build a 2,000- to 3,000-square-foot airport administration building and seek master lessees to build aircraft storage hangars on the north side of the property.

Citizens for a Better Oceanside, a neighborhood group that has opposed the airport’s expansion, also prefers American Airports, President Ron Stewart said.

“They’ve had more experience with smaller airports, so they’re more concerned about the neighbors,” Stewart said.

Oceanside stands to pocket far more from Airport Property Ventures, the city report states. That company’s revenue-sharing proposal would net Oceanside roughly $11 million during the first 25 years of the agreement, a city report states.

American Airport’s proposal would generate roughly $7.4 million for the city over 40 years, the report states.

The council will discuss the airport at 5 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 300 N. Coast Highway.

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