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Thursday, Feb 9, 2023
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Ranch Airport Idea Goes Out to Pasture

Another place to relocate , or in this case augment , San Diego International Airport has failed to make it onto a short list of possible sites. But at least one airport official has hinted that there may be better, if not bigger, things to come.

A North County stretch of land east of Valley Center and west of the Cleveland National Forest that included some property belonging to an historic 22,000-acre working cattle ranch is officially off the table as a suitable location to site a supplemental airport to ease future air traffic demand at Lindbergh Field.

According to planners for the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, it’s unlikely that there would be enough people living in the North County within the next 25 years to warrant a second regional airport. And without sufficient demand to support it, a multi-billion dollar facility wouldn’t pencil out.

Yet the Airport Authority , despite objections from local brass , is moving ahead with plans to look at joint use of one of the county’s military bases as an alternative to dealing with congestion forecasted to occur within the next 10 years at Downtown’s single-runway airport.

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Joe Craver, chairman of the nine-member Airport Authority board, said those plans include “rolling out some concepts” for joint use of a local military base. They also entail a trip to Washington, D.C. on Feb. 15 to meet with Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Installations and Environment B.J. Penn and Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy Wayne Arney.

Craver, who is the head of Galaxie Management, was careful to note that the joint-use concepts being drawn up by the airport’s administrative staff and its consultant, Chicago-based Ricondo & Associates, are in the early stages of development. To be included on a list of possible sites or “airport solutions,” they would need recommendation from the planning committee and finally approval from the board.

Four active military bases in San Diego County are already on the list, as is March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County. A site in Borrego Springs is on as well, as are others in the Imperial Valley and Boulevard, but they’re receiving little attention at this point.

Craver declined to be more specific or speculate on the outcome of the concepts for joint use but said, “This is going to be significant, so stay tuned.”

The board is scheduled for a briefing on the joint use scenarios at a meeting on Feb. 27, Craver said, adding that detailed information would be available beforehand on San Diego International Airport’s Web site. The Airport Authority has a deadline of Aug. 11 to make a site recommendation that will become an advisory measure on the November countywide ballot.

, Connie Lewis

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