By Cary English, Daily Nexus, October 14, 1974
Business is great at Santa Barbara Airport, near the protected Goleta slough. The old terminal building just can’t seem to handle enough people anymore, and they’re asking for a new one.
“At peak times the lobby is vastly overcrowded,” said John Scott, Santa Barbara city administrator. “We want to expand the size of the building sufficiently to meet the fire code.”
Voters in the Nov. 5  election will be asked to approve the issuing of revenue bonds to improve the terminal building. They will also be asked whether they prefer to rehabilitate the old building or construct a new one.
Either improvement would more than double the floor space of the present terminal building, said Scott. Most of the added space would be in the lobby.
Despite the general lag in the airlines industry, Santa Barbara’s air business has shot up dramatically in recent years. So far this year, the number of people getting on and off planes here is 30% greater than for the same period last year, said Airport Commissioner Maurice Goldman.
Some 297,123 passengers used the terminal last year, up from 238,619 two years before, up 24% in two years. Including friends of passengers, airport officials estimate over a million people entered the terminal building last year.
Both alternative terminal improvements would cost about the same. A rehabilitated building would cost $1,550,000. A completely new one, $1,800,000. The bonds would be repaid from airport revenues, incurring no obligation for Santa Barbara citizens.
A rehabilitated building is estimated to have a useful life of 10 years. A new one is expected to last 20 to 25 years.
The present terminal building is “not exactly a great artifact,” said City Administrator Scott. It was built about 1942. A wing was added in 1965.
“The wiring in the present building is in poor shape to carry the new loads that are on it,” said Scott. The sanitary facilities are inadequate, particularly for the handicapped, he added. And there is not enough room to expand them.
“It does not meet the building code,” he said. “If it were privately owned, it would probably be closed up.”
The proposed terminal expansion will not affect the length of the runways, said Airport Manager Jack Loman, nor necessarily the amount of air traffic. But opponents of the measure believe expansion will encourage more use of the facility, with attendant noise problems and growth-inducing effects.
Flight traffic in Santa Barbara is “going up to a degree each month,” said Jack Cunningham, city manager of United Airlines, by far the largest airline service in Santa Barbara. “In spite of the stagnant economy, we probably will have a little bit of growth,” he said.
Is United Airlines interested in increasing flight service? “There’s always an interest,” said Cunningham, “if there is a demand.”