For generations, San Diego has been weighing the future of its international airport. Repeated attempts that aimed to give the one-runway facility more room to expand — or to move it altogether — have failed.
Voters most recently rejected a 2006 initiative pushed by the San Diego Airport Authority, which asked for permission to persuade the military to allow Marine Corps Air Station Miramar to be used as a civilian airport. The authority said a failure to find a solution to the capacity issues created by Lindbergh Field’s sole runway could lead to billions of dollars  in lost revenue for San Diego in the long run.
But the authority is going ahead with plans to expand Lindbergh Field. It’s spending $1 billion to add 10 new gates at Terminal 2 and create a dual-level road that will separate arriving and departing passengers.
We wanted to know what San Diego’s mayoral candidates  had to say about whether or not the airport needs to stay or move. And we also wanted to know what they’d do about the airports the city runs at Montgomery and Brown fields.
We asked them the following questions:
In 2006, the mayor declined to either endorse or oppose a measure that proposed moving the airport to Miramar. What are your views on the airport and would you push for any long-terms solutions regarding it?
Do you support the status quo management of the city’s municipal airports or would you propose that the city either get out of the business of managing them or do it differently?
Carl DeMaio, city councilman:
Now is not the time to spend billions of taxpayer dollars to build a new airport. Instead, we should pursue a coordinated strategy to utilize all of our regional airports to satisfy demand for passenger and cargo traffic. I support targeted investments in all of our airports provided that each project enhances accessibility and capacity for air traffic.
I would not support moving the airport to Miramar — and urged a NO vote on the proposition in 2006. I’m pleased that more than 61 percent of San Diegans agreed and voted down the proposition.
We must support our local military facilities, such as Miramar, because of the thousands of jobs they give San Diegans. The Marine Corps has clearly stated that they want to stay at Miramar long-term and I applaud that. Just recently I stood in front of the Navy Broadway Complex on the downtown waterfront and voiced my support for the Navy’s plan to build a modern, long-term headquarters there. As the threat of another round of BRAC hearings looms and the military considers closing bases throughout the country, I am committed to do all I can to make sure the military, and the jobs they bring, stay in San Diego. Disrupting the operations of MCAS Miramar is not a way to show support for the military.
I would absolutely consider contracting out the city’s municipal airports if we can demonstrate such an arrangement would save taxpayer money and improve airport functions.
Bonnie Dumanis, district attorney:
San Diegans deserve a modern, efficient airport that helps people get into and out of the city quickly, while also serving as a driver of our local economy. Relocating the airport is an option that is off the table, so we need to move forward aggressively to improve the existing facilities at Lindbergh Field. As mayor, I will work with the Airport Authority, SANDAG and the community to advance the carefully planned strategic expansion at Lindbergh Field that is already underway.
The upgrade to Terminal 2 is a great start, along with the consolidated rental car facility scheduled to be completed by 2015. But while these projects are being completed, we need to begin the swift development of a strategic plan to replace the aging Terminal 1 with a modern, first-class facility that can handle more passengers more quickly, while minimizing the impact on the community. I also think we can look for ways to increase efficiencies at the airport, including the way people get to the airport by considering passenger access at the north side and a plan to add a coaster stop, trolley link and at some point, high-speed rail.
As for the city’s management of Montgomery and Brown fields, I would bring stakeholders together and have a conversation. If these airports can be managed better and at a lower cost, then let’s get that done immediately, so the city can focus on improving community services like public safety, infrastructure, parks and libraries. www.bonnieforsandiego.com
Bob Filner, congressman:
The congressman failed to respond.
Nathan Fletcher, assemblyman:
I don’t support moving San Diego’s commercial airport to Miramar. The voters clearly shared this belief and resoundingly rejected that concept. As a Marine Corps veteran I know and appreciate the service the Marines at Miramar provide to our community and important role they play in our national defense.
San Diego’s airport system is a crucial regional asset that helps support our local economy. Residents, businesses and visitors all rely on it for efficient, convenient air service. We must take a fresh look at the airport and its operations and explore ways of increasing capacity and improving access.
We should also be working to better tie our airport into the rest of our public transportation system. San Diego is one of the few large cities in America to not have direct mass transit access to its airport. We also should carefully examine how our airport fits in with other important assets like our port, rail systems and other transportation needs. As mayor, I will work to address this issue by looking for innovative ways to ensure we have an airport system that matches the needs of our citizens, visitors and businesses.
David Cardon, real estate broker:
I do not endorse a measure to move the airport to Miramar. I think the military and civilians should have a safe distance to conduct operations. I would listen to any solutions to do business better.
Hud Collins, trial attorney:
The city of San Diego seems to be in a status quo for the last 10 years! As mayor there will be an immediate plan formed to find a new location for the airport and to maximize all of the city’s municipal airport’s revenues. The city does not need to get out of the airport business! Since the national economy is in a double dip recession, the national budgets will have to be decreasing including in the Defense Department. It would be a perfect time for a strong mayor and the City Council to immediately pursue approaching the Defense Department for a deal on Miramar. That is logical location to be shared with the Department of Navy/Marines. Downsizing will continue for Department of Defense locations. Striking while the fire is hot, on relocating an airport, Miramar would be a top priority!
Sunny O. Enyoghwerho, businessman:
I’m in support of moving the airport to Miramar. The city is growing and more people come to San Diego every day to spend their vacations. The current airport is too small. It was built for local flight, but now they added international flight to it. This makes it more congested for the travelers. The current airport is old; we need a modern airport with better infrastructures. Also, building a new airport will bring employment for the people of San Diego. As far as management goes, it should be managed by the city. I’m not in support of contracting the management to an outside entity. Anytime you give a contract to an outside contractor, you run the risk of high cost. All what the city needs are good management team that will manage it to prosperity.
Steve Greenwald, compassionate physician, businessman, and civic activist:
At this time I would maintain the status quo due to the economic downturn and the total reduction in the number of flights in our nation…together with the high cost of fuel the major airlines are reducing the number of flights. In the future as the use of drones increases and our population increases and thus the demand for all types of air transport both cargo and passenger we can consider a move to Miramar and use the land for commercial and residential development. The port authority who manages the terminal must be induced to market to all the national airlines to foreign countries particularly Pacific Rim, Canada, England, Saudi Arabia and Brazil…together with our county, cruising and conventioning must be marketed by the port authority via the internet and a 30 minute video.
Tobiah Pettus, manager, commercial construction:
San Diego is “America’s Finest City”.
Close your eyes. Can you visualize a city without homeless people on the streets? A city where the roads are brand new and where there is no litter to be seen? This is my ideal vision for San Diego. What is your vision? Together, let us truly create “America’s Finest City”.
As part of our vision, let us leave the airport exactly where it is. We love flying low, seeing Coronado Bridge, seeing our tall buildings, our tranquil bay… on the other side, our majestic Balboa Park. We love taking off over the ocean, turning and seeing our beautiful city, our home, our San Diego! San Diego is breath-taking. It is spectacular, awe-inspiring.
The airport is currently expanding to accommodate more international flights. It may be a while before we require more airport space. When we do need more space, there is nothing that says that we can’t have two airports. Moving the cargo planes (FedEx, UPS, etc.) or acquiring the Industrial buildings surrounding the existing airport will help, if expansion is needed. Bringing the Trolley to the airport will alleviate additional parking space requirements.
I know that our city can manage our municipal airports effectively. Again though, I will lock the city down. Not a dollar will be spent without my approval. I will find the waste. I will eliminate that waste. I will create our vision of “America’s Finest City”. San Diego’s prosperity will flourish. San Diego is “America’s Finest City”! http://www.MayorTobiahPettus.com
Scott Wilson, businessman:
My personal perspective: Why are they proposing moving the airport to Miramar? Is there not enough space at the current airport? Is it because they want the incoming planes to not make as much noise in the middle of town?
Without knowing the motivation for the proposal, I can’t comment on whether or not it is better than the current airport given:
1) It would cost a LOT of money to move the whole system
2) The airport’s central location is a BIG draw to tourists and people who want to run business here, since they don’t have to go as far to get people and materials into the heart of the city, nor to the shore for ships if it’s a cargo movement issue. See more at www.crazyscott4mayor.com
Lamii Kpargoi is an international fellow working with voiceofsandiego.org. He will be working on elections issues and media best practices in community relations. You can reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org  and 619.550.5671.
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