The San Diego County Taxpayers Association’s board of directors voted 12-8 today to oppose the plan to move the region’s international airport to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

The association’s board objected to the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority’s ballot initiative for several reasons, said Lani Lutar, president/CEO of the non-partisan fiscal watchdog.

Lutar cited these reasons:

  • The authority ignored the Marines’ economic impacts in the region.
  • A funding source was not identified for funding the roadway improvements that would be needed to accommodate increased traffic if the airport moved to the Marine base.
  • The authority didn’t do a thorough analysis of the benefits of moving general aviation and cargo operations out of Lindbergh Field. The authority has said they’re too small a portion of overall operations to improve capacity.
  • The ballot measure, which voters will weigh in on Nov. 7, would defer optimizing Lindbergh Field. While the airport authority is developing a 10-gate expansion, Lutar said that’s only done to accommodate growth projected through 2015. The authority should look beyond that, she said, since the Marines have given no indication they intend to leave their air base.

“This measure does nothing to move our region in the right direction,” Lutar said. “It doesn’t present our community with a realistic solution to the problem. Viewed another way, by approval of this measure, voters would be approving up to 14 more years of potential delay in resolving the matter.”

The 12-8 vote (five people abstained) gave the association the 60 percent supermajority it needed to take a position. The board had been scheduled to vote Sept. 15, but that was pushed up to allow the association to sign a rebuttal argument due this week to the county registrar. (For more on that process, click here.)

John Chalker, a member of the steering committee of the Coalition to Preserve the Economy, a pro-Miramar political action committee, questioned the association’s vote. Fifty-three people sit on the board; 25 voted (or abstained.)

“We thought frankly that looking at the mission of the taxpayers association and the principles they laid out that it was premature for them to look at this issue,” Chalker said “It’s a bit of an about-face from the position they took in 1994 when they supported the ballot measure. I kind of don’t get it.”

Lutar called Chalker’s comments an attempt “to diminish the association’s recommendation, because they’re aware that the association’s process is arguably the most thorough and rigorous process that’s been conducted in the county.”

The association has been studying the airport planning process for two years, Lutar said.

ROB DAVIS

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