Airliner takes off from San Diego
A passenger jet takes off from San Diego International Airport. Photo by Chris Stone

City Councilmember Lorie Zapf and leaders of communities surrounding the airport raised concerns Wednesday about a plan to replace Terminal 1, calling for the billion-dollar project’s environmental impact to be reconsidered.

Zapf said she supports the project, but is concerned about the effect on traffic, noise and pollution from an estimated 300 more aircraft takeoffs and landings daily by 2050.

“The airport needs to pay a fair share to mitigate these impacts,” she said. “This is the number one issue that everyone talks about.”

The draft environmental impact report for the project was released last month, and Zapf and community leaders described it as incomplete, with faulty reasoning, and demanded that it be “re-done and re-circulated” before the project can proceed.

Lorie Zapf is interviewed on Wednesday.

Zapf and community leaders held a press conference at NTC Park in Liberty Station, directly under the flight path from San Diego International Airport.

“The severe environmental impacts from this project do not stop at the airport property line,” said Casey Schnoor, a community advocate on airport issues.

Gary Wonacott, president of the Mission Beach Town Council, said increasing aircraft noise has caused some tourists to leave early.

“This is impacting our quality of life. And I believe this is impacting our property values,” he said.

The airport plans to replace the 50-year-old terminal that primarily serves Southwest Airlines, increasing the number of gates from 19 to 30. Construction would begin in 2020 and be completed in 2023.

Airport Authority Board Chair April Boling said many in the community have already submitted comments to the environmental impact report and promised “to the extent that we need to, we will make revisions.” She added that the airport is eager to work with the community on solutions beyond airport property.

But Boling said the airport must respond to growing demand for air travel. If more gates aren’t provided, the airlines will meet the demand with larger and potentially noisier aircraft.

“Those passengers are coming, and they will come whether we replace Terminal 1 or not,” she said. “If we end up with larger equipment coming in, then the noise will be worse.”

Boling pointed out that  a major part of the project is a new $165 million roadway built entirely within airport property to pull traffic off of Harbor Drive. “That is going to make a significant change in traffic,” she said.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.