Thursday, April 13, 2006 | Though we have voiced opinions before, the Kettner Blvd. College of Turkey Surgeons and Airport Relocation Committee has decided it is time to assume a clear position on the future of airports in the San Diego area.
Leave the airport where it is, at Lindbergh Field. Right now, it is only the second-best location for an airport to serve the city. The best, of course, is Miramar. But Miramar wasn’t the best in the 1920s, when the introduction of airplanes created the necessity of someplace to land. At that time, Miramar was too far away, probably as far away as the planners of that era as the Imperial Valley is to planners of today.
Dutch Flats, evolving into Lindbergh Field, was right there, a 10-minute drive from both Old Town and the new downtown. It was downhill, too, for the departing passengers, which was important when cars were so primitive and under-powered. It was easy for the flivvers, packed with people and baggage, to roll downhill to the terminal, then putter back up the hill all nice and light. The trek to Miramar would have had a severe uphill obligation from Mission Valley, with which baggage-loaded flivvers would have had serious trouble, with radiators boiling over by the hundreds.
Lindbergh Field did make a lot better sense than it does now, but given the area’s development pattern in the last 80 years, Miramar makes even less sense. Trying to kick out the Marines and build a new civilian mega-airport in that congested, constricted, area is more trouble than its worth.
And that is the committee’s positional motto: “More trouble than it’s worth.” And again, as with our original motto – “Not likely to happen in our lifetimes” – the eerie relationship between juicy turkey and airport relocation is present. From the beginning, it has been true that finding the secret to infusing moisture into turkey, or relocating Lindbergh Field, were issues bound to confound us right up to the cusp of eternity. It is equally true that many moisture-infusion techniques, and new airport location recommendations, are profoundly more trouble than they are worth. Some Southern turkey surgeons have taken to lowering the entire bird into huge vats of boiling oil, which is the trouble equivalent of putting a San Diego airport on the outskirts of El Centro.
In future airport relocation debates, as you listen to the arguments, test them against the phrase: “More trouble than it’s worth.” We believe you will find that leaving the airport at Lindbergh Field is a pretty clear position, as airport positions go.
The same guidance will be useful in resolution of air traffic issues such as international travel, if that, in San Diego, is a real issue at all. Relocating and building an airport to accommodate San Diego’s demand for international travel redefines the sense of something being more trouble than it is worth. Talk has surfaced about a new regional airport, replacing not only Lindbergh, but Los Angeles International Airport. That is why the committee feels so strongly about this being the time to take a firm position, and why that position is simply to leave Lindbergh where it is, and make that the starting point to resolve issues such as international travel. We do not foresee the day of a joint San Diego-Los Angeles airport as being a happy one for San Diegans, except for the developers, the builders, and the owners of the land such an airport would be on.
If “More trouble than it’s worth” points directly to retaining Lindbergh Field, it also swings around to point at Tijuana’s airport. I believe it was something Neil Morgan wrote that triggered the inspiration to schedule domestic San Diego flights into Tijuana’s Rodrigues Airport, but it would also not be much trouble to develop the existing facilities into the international airport that would serve both Tijuanans and San Diegans. Neil’s proposal had something to do with climbing the border fence, but that would fall into the more-trouble category. Cross-border government and commercial relationships and cooperation would be better, which needs to get done anyway before Tijuana replaces San Diego as the business city of choice on the Pacific Rim. Talk about trouble.
Journalist, author and educator Michael Grant has been putting his spin on San Diego, and the city putting its spin on him, since 1972. His Web site is at