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Air Transport, Water Desalination Top Topics in North County

Two key business mainstays are in the limelight again: air transportation and water.

It seems that since I arrived in San Diego in 1973, these two areas surface as problems several times a year.

Lindbergh Field has been discussed and studied since it opened.

Charles Lindbergh probably said at the ribbon cutting, “What a wonderful beginning for an international airport.”

The operative word is “beginning.”

Today, legislation is pending to reorganize the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, its board makeup and its focus.

Last year, state Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, began creating legislation to reorganize the authority with her SB 10 bill.

Those of us in North County always seem to be underrepresented.

The majority of the executive committee represents downtown San Diego.

If this chamber had not called the then-chairman, Joe Craver, during the public meetings about the site selection last year, we would not have even been invited to the public meetings discussing our own airport.

The Kehoe legislation would reduce the number of board members from nine to seven and remove the guarantee that North County would have two votes.

If passed, the Kehoe legislation would remove the unfair compensation structure that currently exists with the board of directors.

There are two classes of directors, one group receives $171,000 per year, and the other receives $100 for every meeting they attend.

With November’s resounding defeat of the Marine Corps Air Station at Miramar being the site of a future Lindbergh replacement, the authority has limited responsibility going forward.

The board now needs work to enlarge and improve our current airport because no other site seems likely to be selected.

The smaller regional airports like McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad will need to pick up the increased passenger demand.

In Carlsbad, private investors have spent more than $60 million in new hangars, parking areas and maintenance facilities to service the growing private aircraft business.

The county government is funding a $24 million remodel of the air traffic control tower, hangars and retail spaces, bringing the total to $100 million in the last three years.

The U.S. government has built a federal customs terminal to serve international flights.

If the runway can be lengthened, the feeder airlines will begin serving the North County area with ease.

On the water front, Poseidon Resources Corp. announced the four firms that will build the Carlsbad desalination plant after it clears its last hurdle before the California Coastal Commission.

Three of the companies are local.

The $300 million plant will produce 50 million gallons of drinking water every day, double the amount that Carlsbad residents and businesses will need.

The extra 50 percent capacity is being sold to neighboring cities to help offset the cost of desalinated water.

Once the plant is operational, 8 percent more water , the amount Carlsbad currently uses of the imported water in the county , will flow into the pipeline and help other cities in the region when water shortages occur.

In other North County news:

– The city of San Marcos has become a budding entrepreneur. The City Council approved an expenditure of $13.4 million to buy 21 acres near Cal State San Marcos from two private owners. The duo will use the money to buy more land adjacent to the 21 acres they sold. They then intend to buy the 21 acres back from San Marcos for a 6 percent profit.

– Carlsbad prides itself on being a utopian society, and residents know that to help maintain the “village” feel, they need to participate and volunteer on committees and commissions. A city report by the Independent Sector, a nonprofit organization, states that more than $1.1 million in citizen services added to the substantial city services performed by city employees. The service level in the city is at 100 percent but the citizens are helping add to the quality of life in the Village by the Sea.

– Five North County schools were selected as distinguished school winners by the state Department of Education. They include Calavera Hills Middle School, Carlsbad High School and La Costa Canyon High School, all in Carlsbad. San Pasqual High School in Escondido and Valley Center High School were also honored.


Ted Owen is president and CEO of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce.

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