The San Diego County Taxpayers Association’s transportation committee has tentatively recommended opposing the November Miramar airport ballot measure.

The association’s transportation committee cited several factors in its recommendation, which is not yet finalized as it awaits input from interested parties. It said the expansion of Lindbergh Field hadn’t been fully examined. The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority’s insistence on a 3,000-acre template with two 12,000-foot runways “predestined the outcome of their efforts,” the committee wrote.

The association – a nonpartisan fiscal watchdog – has been previously been critical of the authority’s search. But no one reason was behind the committee’s decision, said Lani Lutar, the association’s president and CEO. The group has been studying the authority’s search for two years. The authority’s multi-year site selection process culminated June 5 with the selection of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar as the best place to accommodate projections that Lindbergh Field will reach capacity sometime between 2015 and 2022.

The ballot language that became official Friday “does not let voters know that in supporting the ballot measure they may be sending a message that the Marines should leave the Miramar base,” the association committee wrote in a position paper. And the authority has not accurately assessed the economic impact of the Marines’ departure from the base, the committee stated. (The Marines estimate that they pump about $488 million into the economy annually through contracts and salaries.)

The Marines have “clearly and convincingly made the case that any type of joint-use at MCAS Miramar is not possible,” the committee wrote. “… Even if there were another viable alternative military base, plans for the Airport Authority to compensate the military for the immense cost of relocating are unrealistic.”

The committee points to the authority’s economic analysis and study of the viability of joint use at Miramar as flawed. And it said there had been “no serious consideration of the local infrastructure improvements that would be required to accommodate the impact of a new airport.”

The committee will accept written public comment on its recommendation through Aug. 21. It then meets Aug. 23 to receive responses to its position from the Marines, the authority, ASAP21 (a pro-new-airport group) and the San Diego Military Advisory Council (an anti-Miramar-airport group).

The ultimate decision belongs to the taxpayers association’s 55-member board of directors, which votes Sept. 15. A 60 percent majority vote is required for the association to take a position on the ballot initiative.


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