Airport authority alteration bill OK'd; Measure would bring pay cuts

SACRAMENTO -- The Legislature has overwhelmingly approved a bill to restructure the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority. Now the legislation's fate is in the hands of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The bill would overhaul the airport authority by eliminating three highly paid positions and changing the appointing authority for several of the board positions.

Currently the board, which operates Lindbergh Field and oversees long-range aviation planning in San Diego County, consists of three members of an executive committee, who each receive $172,000 a year, and six members who are paid a minimal amount.

Under Senate Bill 10 by Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, all board members would be considered part time. Eight board members would be paid a maximum of $900 a month, while the chair would earn a maximum of $1,400 a month.

At a recent meeting, the airport board voted to support the legislation if amended, said Michael Kulis, a spokesman for the airport authority.

The board wanted Kehoe to change her bill to allow the governor and the county sheriff to retain the authority to appoint one board member each, he said.

In addition, the board wanted the legislation to limit the number of elected officials serving on the nine-member board to four.

Kehoe did not make those changes.

SB 10 requires San Diego's 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 also appoint two members subject to confirmation by the board.

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

The bill was approved by the Assembly on Monday by a 78-0 vote.

The Senate approved the bill Wednesday by a 36-2 vote, with state Sens. Mark Wyland, R-Solana Beach, and Jim Battin, R-Palm Desert, voting against it.

Schwarzenegger has not yet taken a position on the bill, said his spokeswoman, Sabrina Lockhart.

Kehoe's legislation was prompted by reports on airport operations conducted by two state agencies as well as suggestions from local officials and civic organizations.