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Miramar airport supporters got a boost this morning: The San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp.’s board of directors endorsed the Miramar ballot initiative by a 28-8 secret-ballot vote (with two abstentions).

The EDC says the Marine base, if available, “could provide the only real alternative for an international airport other than Lindbergh Field.”

The endorsement came with a few caveats:

  • All feasible measures to expand Lindbergh Field should be implemented.
  • Voters should have a chance to approve a final plan for a Miramar airport, which would disclose costs, environmental, traffic, noise and safety impacts.
  • A Miramar commercial airport must be configured to make sure no new land-use restrictions affect high-tech and biotech businesses near Miramar.

Tom Wornham, chairman of the 61-member EDC board of directors said the board would have preferred alternative ballot language. The EDC’s second caveat echoed language that had circulated among some business leaders in mid-July, which sought to eliminate any suggestion of joint civilian-military use in the ballot question and similarly proposed a second countywide vote.

“In no way should this be interpreted as a vote against the military,” Wornham said.

Rather, he said, the vote sends the message that should Miramar be closed, business leaders want to avoid “another El Toro.”

El Toro is the former Orange County Marine Corps base that was closed and is being developed after a public vote killed a proposal to put a commercial airport there.

The EDC does not anticipate taking an active role campaigning for the ballot measure, said Wornham, executive vice president and regional manager of Wells Fargo Bank.

ROB DAVIS

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