Ahh, Dear Readers, thank you so much for not leaving me in the lurch here with nothing to respond to.
A couple of points I think will be helpful. First, being a dedicated but frugal San Diego taxpayer, I, too, wonder “who will pay for these improvements?” So let’s talk Airport Financing 101. Do you recall the Airport Authority’s campaign to build a whole new airport at Miramar? If so, then you probably recall that the Authority began stashing away millions of dollars ($40 million by the time of the 2006 vote) as a revenue base for issuing several billion dollars in bonds to fund the construction of a whole new airport. The Authority, after all, has its own revenue bonding powers. That revenue base for bonding is probably now up to about $60 million.
In addition, the Authority would be well positioned to receive funding from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program, which is set up to fund precisely these kinds of improvements. The Authority has already received millions of dollars from the AIP for its never-ending master planning process. Imagine that at least 10 times that would be available from federal sources for actual improvements to the airport. As for the off-airport improvements that would be required, such as reconfiguring the I-5 on-ramps and off-ramps for better access to the north-side terminals, let’s look to CalTrans and Transnet for funding. After all, that is what they are there for. Most importantly, if taxpayer dollars are spent on even a portion of the off-airport improvements, responsible projects like this one that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote green building are precisely how I want my taxpayer funds spent.
Briefly, I would also like to thank the writer who is concerned for my firm’s clients. Higgs is dedicated to providing the best quality legal services at the lowest possible cost to our clients, but more gates at Lindbergh Field won’t help us there. In fact, the point was best made by the Authority’s President and CEO when she said that there are already more than enough gates at Lindbergh! Only 65 percent of the exiting gates are being occupied by the airlines right now. But even if more gates were necessary, the north side project would allow a larger expansion of gates than is currently planned for on the south side of the airport.
Finally, let me clear out some of the current campaign huffery and puffery: Mike Aguirre did NOT save Montgomery Field from closure. The FAA never threatened to close Montgomery Field because of the height of the Sunroad building. The Sunroad Centrum building at its highest affected less than five percent of operations at that airport. The FAA would never close or threaten to close the airport for such a de minimis impact. Instead the FAA issued a NOTAM advisory to pilots, which it does every time there is a change in operating conditions at any airport and which pilots are required to consult before flying into any airport. That was the state of affairs that everyone, including the FAA, was living with before Aguirre decided to sue Sunroad without Council or Mayoral approval, thus exposing you fine taxpayers to a possible $40 million in unnecessary liability.