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    Airport Terminal Expansion Produces Controversy

    By Skip Rimer, Daily Nexus, March 1, 1973

    Unless local opposition grows into a solid threat within the next couple of months, the city of Santa Barbara will most likely go ahead with a new $2 million airport terminal complex which would take the place of the existing one, built in 1942.

    On Dec. 18 of last year [1972], the city and county of Santa Barbara signed an agreement which formed a joint city-county agency. This Joint Powers Agreement allows the two areas to sell bonds to raise money for certain projects.

    This agreement, which was passed between the election and swearing in of no-growth Supervisors Frank Frost and James Slater, allows for the city and county to bypass a vote of its citizens. The only way a vote would be necessary for these projects is by referendum.

    But to get a referendum on the ballot, a petition is necessary with the signatures of 10% of the voters on it. No such petition was turned in for the airport terminal expansion, and for this reason, City Councilman Alan Eschenroeder (the one city councilman against expansion) feels the project cannot be stopped.

    Don Krueger, chairman of Concerned Citizens For Sensible Growth, stated at a CCSG meeting last Friday, “I would urge every citizen of this county to examine a copy of the Economic Analysis of the Santa Barbara Airport. On page 17, that report warns Santa Barbara elected officials not to submit the airport expansion project to the voters for ballot approval, predicting that the measure would be defeated.”

    He added, “Instead, the report suggests that officials go to a Joint Powers Agreement which does not require that the voters decide.”

    CCSG press secretary Jack Saunders clarified his group’s position by adding, “It is a tragic irony that a public document, commissioned at taxpayers’ expense, would so explicitly suggest such an underhanded method for avoiding the voters’ attention.”

    Saunders was also concerned with the problem of growth. “The basic issue here is the impact on Goleta which will inevitably accompany airport development.” He added that the decision to go ahead with airport expansion was made in 1970, but “things have fundamentally changed since then, and Goleta has clearly rejected rapid growth at the polls.”

    UCSB Geography Professor Norman Sanders has announced that his group, the Santa Barbara Coastwatch, is warning the City of Santa Barbara that it will have a battle on its hands if it tries to build the new airport terminal without obtaining a permit from the South Central Coast Conservation Commission.

    “The Coastal Zone Conservation Act (Prop. 20) clearly states that the permit zone extends 1000 yards from the shores of estuaries such as the Goleta Slough,” claims Sanders, “and thus includes the new terminal building.”

    He included, “There is more at stake than the $2 million for terminal construction – the airport expansion plan really is designed to make Santa Barbara airport into a satellite facility to transfer a significant part of the Los Angeles traffic load to Santa Barbara.”

    Walter Carson, United Air Lines manager at the Santa Barbara Airport, denies this by saying the airlines are not running a commuter service. “A terminal building has no bearing on the service,” stated Carson. “It’s only a tool. I really don’t see how a new terminal replacing an existing one can do any more, except to make it easier to handle people.”

    He concluded by saying, “It couldn’t increase the market.”

    Meanwhile, as airport architects go ahead with the planning of the new facilities, the CCSG has planned a public forum on the airport expansion issue tonight at 8 p.m. to be held in the Goleta Union School cafeteria. Among those who will be there are Gary Hart and Supervisor James Slater.

    Santa Barbara Airport Terminal (Alan Savenor/Daily Nexus photo)
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