Committee: Drop North County From Airport Search

A four-member panel of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority voted unanimously to recommend dropping North County from further consideration as a site for a supplemental airport to San Diego's Lindbergh Field.

But while he and Sessom are making more public statements in support of a Lindbergh expansion, board member Paul Nieto said he does not believe Lindbergh expansion can ever meet the estimated 35 million-passenger demand San Diego is forecast to have by the year 2030.

Thursday's meeting in Washington came about after U.S. Rep. Susan Davis, D-San Diego, sent a letter late last month to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld asking for the Pentagon's view of shared use. Davis is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Her letter also asks for the Defense Department's view on the value of Camp Pendleton, North Island and Miramar to the nation's defense. The letter was passed down to the assistant secretary for the Navy, who is expected to prepare a report for Rumsfeld.

The authority is bound by state law to come up with a recommendation to expand Lindbergh or build a new airport this year. The state Legislature created the agency in 2003 to take over operation of Lindbergh from the Unified Port District of San Diego and plan for the region's future airline travel and cargo needs.

Whatever it decides this spring will go before county voters in the form of a nonbinding advisory vote in November in what will be one of the most important votes in decades, according to authority board Chairman Joe Craver.

"It will be one of this generation's greatest public policy decisions," Craver said during his "state of the authority" address following Monday's committee meeting. Craver's speech outlined what the authority has done in the last year, heaping particular praise on its staff.

A new airport would be built with a combination of federal grants and authority-issued bonds repaid through airport revenues.

The site selection issue next lands in North County. On Wednesday, the authority is sponsoring a business luncheon airport forum from 11:30 a.m. until 1:45 p.m. at the Lake San Marcos Resort at Country Club, 1025 La Bonita Drive.

Registration for that event moderated by North County Times editor Kent Davy costs $20 for non-North County Chamber of Commerce members. For more information, call (619) 400-2869.


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