This is astonishing. You’re telling me that the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce not only may not support the airport authority’s ballot measure but that it may even oppose the push to carve out part of Miramar for a commercial airport?

That’s an about-face.

Loyal Sloppers will remember my interview recently with Julie Meier Wright from the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. and her lack of proactive support so far for the airport measure. She said then that because her group led the effort to protect the military bases from closure last year, she might expect the chamber of commerce to lead the effort for the new airport at Miramar rather than the EDC.

Now, the chamber’s public policy committee actually votes to actively oppose the ballot measure. Let’s keep in mind, of course, that the chamber’s overseers could still muscle the organization into supporting the airport authority’s plan.

But this is a huge development that has the potential to torpedo the push for a new airport.

It was the business community – and the chamber specifically – that was supposed to mobilize the campaign to avoid the economic cataclysm that was supposedly to come if a new airport isn’t constructed in the next 20 years.

The chamber was one of the founders of ASAP 21, the group that has helped guide the airport authority to the ballot measure it has produced – a call to “work to obtain” 3,000 acres at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. The possibility that Miramar would be the final selection of the airport authority was always clear, and it can easily be said that everyone expected Miramar. (Though not everyone knew exactly how the airport authority would word something for joint use of the Marine Corps base and at the same time acknowledge that joint use doesn’t work.)

This is huge. If the chamber really doesn’t support this, there will be an implosion in the movement for a new airport. The chamber, like everyone around here, thought they could both protect the local military bases from closure and advocate for a new airport at Miramar at the same time. Those two decisions are hard to meld.

But they didn’t want to make a real choice between the two. Now, this airport movement is close to dissolving entirely because all of its proponents are finding themselves obligated to make a decision about what to choose: the military side, or the airport authority’s sometimes-confusing side.

And the business “leaders” in this town are about to face what anyone would when forced to make a real choice after years of pandering, indecision and incoherence: a massive identity crisis.

SCOTT LEWIS

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