Community Plan – San Diego International Airport (SDIA)

Peninsula Community Plan


Homes in Point Loma, more than any other community, face the brunt of impacts from airport operations and though it appears Point Loma may benefit more than any other community from reducing these operations, such a view is at best short-sighted given the development opportunities the entire region can enjoy from a more efficient airport and the transportation network required to serve it.

The San Diego Regional Airport Authority is an enterprise that is focused on making SDIA operations more efficient in order to increase revenue to the city and its private partners. Like the San Diego Unified Port District, the Airport Authority is a public business enterprise (on public lands) that partners with many private businesses for mutual financial benefit. And like the Port, the Airport Authority can be held responsible for the costs of environmental and/or personal harm, just as any other private or public enterprise.

Airport revenue comes to the city at the expense of property values under the flight path of arriving and departing aircraft and from proximity to traffic congestion created by airport users as well as health costs from air pollution and the loss of development potential of land around the airport. Although individual people and property owners in impacted areas pay such costs, a closer analysis will most likely show that constraints on airport operations due to the short single runway and surface access has limited development potential with a loss to the city as well as to employment potential and communities is many times greater than the revenue generated by the airport, especially assuming an alternative is a better and safer experience by airline users.

Some have called SDIA “cute” but it’s also been called an ever-present danger to passengers, pilots and residents of North Park, Mission Hills, Bankers Hill, Downtown, Point Loma and Ocean Beach; a danger that is amplified by the airport’s proximity to a Naval munitions store and the Pacific Fleet aviation fuel depot and more so because of its short runway and manual landing approach, which taken together, have rated SDIA as 1st or 2nd most dangerous airport in the world for pilots and passengers.

In a possibly good way, Lindbergh Field is a museum of 20th Century air technology.

The 3+ million population of San Diego needs a larger, safer airport. We can’t lengthen the runway nor add other runways at SDIA and with development around Camp Elliott and Brown Field, it now appears that we will will have to look to 21st century technology for an airport solution that is also a circulation network for surface transportation needs.

Those who previously promoted moving SDIA’s 20th century technology to Miramar envisioned a Lindbergh Field/SDIA airport relocated to Miramar or to Camp Elliott. With the growth of SD business and residential and commercial lands in the north as far as Temecula, and to the east and south parts of the county, and with the susceptibility of the freeway system to daily failures, SDIA has run its course. For public safety as well as health, welfare, economics and land use efficiency, qualities of an “airport” for a large urban population requires new design criteria and technology.

For example, a system of high speed people-movers, perhaps, Mr. Musk’s, can carry passengers swiftly and comfortably from smaller terminals in population centers in north, east and south county to runways located comfortably distant from population centers. Passengers could check in at local terminals and then travel directly to departure gates at distantly located runways.

21st century airport technology also creates possibilities for economic expansion and location of new residential neighborhoods in places where environmental consideration, renewable energy and less crowding and pollution, while reducing stress-related health problems that result from over-crowding and traffic congestion.