If the November airport ballot initiative fails, “it’s very unlikely” the airport authority will continue to exist.

That’s according to authority Chairman Joe Craver, who this morning addressed the University Club, a downtown business club.

Sen. Christine Kehoe is leading an effort to reconfigure the authority’s governance structure. That could ultimately shift control of the airport to another group, such as the San Diego Association of Governments. Background is here.

Craver spent about 45 minutes addressing the University Club over breakfast this morning. His prepared remarks (which had been vetted by the authority’s legal counsel) were an interesting insight into the airport authority’s strategy for convincing the public that Marine Corps Air Station Miramar is the right place to move the region’s international airport.

He made an omission when talking about Richard Carson, the University of California, San Diego economics professor who contends the airport authority’s economic analysis is inaccurate. The authority says keeping Lindbergh Field open could cost the region $130 billion in lost revenue by 2030. Carson says it won’t cost a cent.

Questioned about passenger forecasts, Craver said this: “We had a number of meetings with Dr. Carson. We also had a number of meetings with Dr. Seth Young from Emory University in Florida. We heard both sides.”

Craver did not mention this: Young, who is employed by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida, was hired as a consultant by the airport authority, which gave him a $49,000 contract.

Craver made another omission during his speech. Addressing critics of the authority’s ballot language (some of whom were in the audience), Craver specifically omitted one of the most controversial parts of the language. Reading what the ballot language says, Craver skipped over three important words.

Craver said the language called for the authority to get “3,000 acres at Miramar.”

It actually says 3,000 of 23,000 acres.

Do three words matter?

They did to some members of the business community, who unsuccessfully pushed in mid-July to change the ballot language. One of their specific criticisms was that “3,000 of 23,000 acres” suggested joint use worked at Miramar and that more land was available for development than actually is.

Marine Corps officials say 15,000 acres of the base isn’t developable because of environmental considerations and mountainous topography.

Craver called the airport issue “one of the most misunderstood issues that has faced San Diego in a long time.”

Perhaps this is why:

Craver first said the airport authority doesn’t want the Marine Corps to leave Miramar.

Then he said the airport authority would compensate the military for relocating from Miramar (or modifying their use of the base).


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