The City Council voted last night to keep the municipal airport open for 15 to 20 years and to build new hangars on the south side of the property.
It also will continue to negotiate for commercial development on the north side. The vote was 4-1.
"The city of Oceanside is sales-tax hungry," Councilwoman Shari Mackin said in support of the compromise.
Councilwoman Esther Sanchez added a requirement to develop a "realistic" plan to deal with the noise complaints of neighbors.
Mayor Jim Wood dissented, explaining later that he wants pilots' groups to promise they will work to ease the complaints before he votes for the airport's lease.
Fourteen speakers -- airport supporters and opponents -- addressed the council.
The Rev. Charles Wright, abbot of Prince of Peace Abbey, a Roman Catholic monastery, said he's heard every plane landing and taking off for almost 45 years but the worst is when aircraft glide in and then hit full power over the abbey's chapel.
Ron Stewart, head of Citizens for A Better Oceanside, a longtime airport opponent, said his group supports the compromise.
The 50-acre airport sits along state Route 76 in San Luis Rey Valley. It was built in 1963 and contains a 3,000-foot runway that is restricted to propeller-driven planes.
The council appeared split on the airport's future until city staff suggested a compromise that would allow commercial development on vacant land on the north side of the airport property. Council members are wooing Costco for the site at Foussat Road.
But many financial, environmental, legal and technical problems need to be worked out before the store could be a reality there.
One of the questions involves whether the Federal Aviation Administration would allow the store on property intended for airport improvements.
An FAA spokesman said earlier this week that the agency will not announce its position on commercial use of part of the property until it receives an official request from the city.
Under the plan approved last night, 40 hangars would be added on the airport's south side.
A report by city property agent Gary Gurley says the city could garner more than $22.5 million in revenue over 25 years if the hangars were added on the airport's south side and commercial development on the north side.
The council approved a master plan for the airport in 1997. The plan included 100 more hangars and no major commercial development. Under that plan, the airport would generate more than $12 million over 25 years, according to Gurley's report.
In September, with the life of the airport in doubt, the county Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to spend $10,000 to study a county takeover if the council no longer wanted to maintain it.
Karl Higgins, lobbyist for the national Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, supported county purchase of the airport, saying it would give the city some of the funds it expects in sales taxes from Costco.
"If someone would give us $35 million for the airport, I would take it," said Councilman Rocky Chavez, a longtime airport booster.
Wood said he also is interested in hearing how much the county might pay.
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