Reader DD sent in a doozy this morning. Continuing on from the conversation below, everyone knows a commercial airport cannot work at Miramar without the Marines abandoning their tactical air operations at the base.

The Marines say so. The most ardent advocates for a new commercial airport at Miramar say so.

And the airport authority itself said so.

DD sent over this link to a recording of the KPBS Radio show “These Days” from June 6. Host Tom Fudge was interviewing Joe Craver, who is the chairman of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

Below is the transcript of an important exchange – word for word. If you don’t (or can’t!) read it, the theme is simple: Joint-use only works if the Marines drop what they’re doing at Miramar.

Question from Tom Fudge: I guess you have consultants who say this is doable and that this is feasible?

Answer, Craver: The layout with our consultants have laid out in other words two runways that are south of the existing runway at Miramar. That concept does not work. It, for joint use, it is non-compatible it fails our Tier I criteria. And it also impacts the area. Whereas in our view, that it would have to be some other type of a layout that could work. But basically the ones they have presented to us does not work …

Q: Which would be a commercial airport south of the military airstrip?

A: Yes. Now, however, I will hasten to say it there’s with provisos. If for any reason, what we’re looking at is, not now, we know what “no” means that’s been told to us several times, what we’re looking at is in the future, by the year 2020. With tactical jets at Miramar, is that it’s going to be very difficult to get the compatibility with a civilian airport with tactical jets. Without tactical jets and helicopters only, then the that could work. If for any reason that the Marine Corps, in between now and the year 2020 – with the bringing on of the Joint Strike Fighter – if those aviation assets are a decision to go ahead and relocate them i.e. to Lemoore with the Navy Joint Strike Fighters, that would be a savings an operational savings for the Navy and the Marine Corps. Then with helicopters with a military operation with joint use at Miramar, then the joint-use concept would work.

Q: Let me make sure I understand you correctly. You’re saying if joint use is going to work in the future it would have to happen without the use of what you call tactical jets at Miramar?

A: Yes the tactical jets. The F-18s that are at Miramar at the present time with their operation and with 23,000 acres – it’s one thing to remember – 23,000 acres is just about the size of the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. That sounds like a lot of land, but when you start to go ahead and mix civilian airplanes in an international airport and then tactical jets, although it works in some locations, but the terrain that is at Miramar, that would be a challenge. But we’re hoping the military will sit down at the table and help us go through that scenario.

Craver’s not exactly at his most eloquent here, but make no mistake about it: The airport authority’s idea for a new airport at Miramar envisions the Marines Corps doing vastly different operations at the base than it does now. The airport authority is not talking about “joint use” of the facility. It’s talking about the Marines not flying fixed-wing aircraft there anymore so as to allow the new airport to function.

In U-T Fantasyland, “the ballot proposal does not call for any scaling back whatsoever of the Marine presence at Miramar.” That may be technically true – the ballot doesn’t say that – but presenting it like this is grossly misleading.

As I’ve said, the airport authority – commendably in a way – is now forcing the region to decide whether it wants to support continued military air operations at Miramar or stand on the side of phasing them out to make room for a commercial airport. The U-T can and should support the ballot measure if it wants. But don’t try to manipulate the facts to avoid an uncomfortable truth.

We must stop fantasizing that San Diego can have everything it wants (military and civilian) without sacrificing anything.


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