San Diego Voters Firmly Reject Miramar Idea

San Diego County voters rejected a nonbinding, advisory measure that would have kept alive an effort to develop a commercial airport at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, today's returns showed.

With all precincts reporting, about 62 percent of voters cast their ballots against Proposition A, while 38 percent were in favor, according to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters.

Joe W. Craver, chairman of the Regional Airport Authority, said voters had spoken, and it was his job to carry out their wishes.

"I would say we represent the people, and we put a solution to the people and they said that's not something we're comfortable with," he said. "That speaks volumes."

The nine-member Regional Airport Authority will revisit the issue of finding a new airport site in January but, before then, the terms of five commissioners will end. Some may not be reappointed, Craver said.

Bruce Boland, president of the "No on Prop. A" group, said at a campaign party last night that he was "absolutely delighted" with the vote to reject a commercial airport at Miramar.

"It really showed that the voters of San Diego County understand the importance of the Marines and the importance of Miramar," he said. "Having a joint-use operation out there just doesn't work."

Despite strident opposition from the military, the Regional Airport Authority agreed in May to put Proposition A on the ballot as an advisory measure, meaning it would not be legally binding.

It asked voters whether the Airport Authority and other government officials should work to acquire about 3,000 acres at the 23,000-acre base for a joint-use international airport serving the military and commercial airlines.

The measure outlined certain conditions that included necessary traffic improvements, maintenance of military readiness, no use of local taxes and improvements at Lindbergh Field.

Military brass argued that a commercial airport at Miramar would harm Navy and Marine readiness and could pose a safety risk because Marine and civilian aircraft would have to use the same airspace.

The Defense Department has also said it has no plans to close the base.

"(Voter's) message is clear -- in a time of national conflict, people do not want to do anything that will affect military readiness," Craver said.

Opponents also argued it would lead to increased traffic congestion on San Diego's freeways and jet noise over neighborhoods.

The Airport Authority maintained that the MCAS Miramar site represents the best solution to San Diego's future air travel needs because of its convenient location to the center of the metropolitan area. Supporters of the measure also believed that Lindbergh Field's single runway will soon be unable to accommodate the region's air travel and cargo needs.

However, since it would have taken 15 years to build an airport at Miramar if the measure had passed, the authority already had plans to make improvements to Lindbergh, Craver said.

An environmental impact report for the current airport's general plan has been reviewed and returned to the authority, which hopes to begin construction in 2008, with completion by 2010, Craver said.

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