The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority Board and staff do a good job for the traveling public and San Diegans. We have an airport that runs effectively, efficiently, sustainably, and most importantly, safely. The economic benefit of the San Diego International Airport to our region is more than $10 billion per year.
The numbers are staggering — the economic benefit to business and industry, the jobs, goods and services created and supported by our Airport Authority are critical drivers of San Diego’s financial health and our quality of life. With more than 350 employees and revenues of more than $200 million per year, the airport truly is a significant force in this region.
Now the Airport Authority’s board has another opportunity to invest in San Diego business. Parking management is the largest opportunity in the Airport Authority’s portfolio to utilize a local company and an existing local workforce. At stake is a contract to manage 6,100 parking spaces at Lindbergh Field, worth more than $30 million to the Airport Authority over five years.
My family, the owners of Ace Parking Management Inc., originally offered the Airport Authority a proposal to continue to manage the parking at the airport for $2.7 million less than a competing proposal by a Chicago-based firm. Even with the huge sums of revenue and expenses that the Airport Authority manages, $2.7 million is still $2.7 million of real money — money that could go to eliminate other user fees, control parking cost increases or be utilized for various improvements.
The Airport Authority members have spent a couple of months to thoroughly review the opportunities before them as they prepare to make a decision about airport parking management. Recently, the board asked two vendors Standard Parking of Chicago and Ace Parking of San Diego to sharpen their pencils and provide a “Best and Final Offer” to the board for its final consideration and decision on Oct. 6.
Ace and Standard were asked to submit more details outlining how their operations would save on expenses, retain employees, improve operations, make more money for the airport and provide the best possible customer service.
At the Sept. 1 board meeting, Ace guaranteed —and continues to guarantee — millions in lower costs over the duration of the five year contract. In putting together Ace’s BAFO, I have provided even more savings, proposed additional enhancements and committed to a worker retention program.
Retaining local employment is critical to our region’s economic health, and it’s important to us as a company. It’s also important to Ace to demonstrate leadership in business, civic and philanthropic activities throughout our community. Last month, Ace partnered with ECOtality to install the first electric vehicle charging stations in downtown San Diego. This environmental initiative is just one example of how Ace has evolved with the driving public and the efforts to preserve our environment. It’s an evolution that goes on at the company while still maintaining and creating good paying, stable jobs that are a boost to the local economy.
Ace’s staff has done its job bringing data to the board. Board members deserve the community’s appreciation for sorting through the details for the decision they must make. Now, those nine members must exercise their independent judgment and make a decision consistent with the Airport Authority’s mission statement:
“… We are committed to operating San Diego’s air transportation gateways in a manner that promotes the region’s prosperity and protects its quality of life. ”
As civic leaders and fiduciaries, I encourage the Airport Authority board members to take a hard look at the millions of dollars Ace Parking would save for the airport, consider the importance of those savings to the overall operation of the airport. I applaud the board for setting an example of thoughtful decision-making in order to capitalize on real savings and true value, which promotes and sustains our region’s prosperity.
Keith Jones is managing partner of Ace Parking