Governor signs bill on overhaul of S.D. airport authority

SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation yesterday aimed at overhauling the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. The bill eliminates full-time pay for three board members and requires all nine board members to be appointed by local authorities.

Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, the sponsor of Senate Bill 10, said yesterday she was pleased to have the governor's support.

"Taxpayers expect public boards such as the airport authority to be accountable and this legislation delivers on that expectation," Kehoe said. "I'm certain that a more accountable airport authority will benefit all San Diego residents."

The overhaul is expected to save an estimated $450,000 a year by eliminating the current yearly salaries of $172,000 paid to the full-time board members. The six part-time members are paid a minimal amount.

Instead, it would make serving on the board a part-time job for all members. Each board member would be paid $200 a meeting up to eight meetings a month.

The legislation passed with unanimous support in the Assembly and overwhelming support in the Senate. Only two senators voted "no" -- Mark Wyland, R-Solana Beach, and Jim Battin, R-Palm Desert.

The bill eliminates the power of the governor to appoint a board member.

The new law requires the San Diego mayor to appoint three members, including two subject to confirmation by the San Diego City Council.

The chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors would appoint two members subject to confirmation by the board.

Four other members would be appointed by city selection committees representing different regions of the county: North County coastal, North County inland, East County and South County.

Created in 2002, the airport authority operates Lindbergh Field and serves as the land-use commission for the region's 16 civilian and military airports. The authority engineered the November 2006 ballot measure seeking to place a civilian airport at the site of Miramar Marine Corps Air Station. The measure was soundly rejected by voters countywide.

Kehoe's legislation was sparked by reports on airport operations from two state agencies and suggestions from many local officials and organizations.

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