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40% in Survey Back Airport to Serve Region

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Forty percent of Ventura County residents responding to a public opinion survey said the county needs a regional airport, and most of the supporters think it should be the Camarillo Airport, according to an Oxnard business group.

The survey was done by a private company for the Oxnard Economic Development Advisory Commission. About 200 of 500 randomly selected voters said the county needs a regional airport with regularly scheduled jet service, the commission said. Officials of the group would not release the exact wording of questions. They provided a summary and said the full survey will be released in a few weeks when it is presented to the Oxnard City Council.

The commission is a group of city officials and business leaders that advises the City Council on Oxnard’s economy. It has said a regional airport would attract high-tech firms and large corporate headquarters.

One-fourth of those questioned saw no need for a regional airport. The rest had no opinion.

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Of those who said yes to whether a regional airport is needed, five of eight said they believe it should be the Camarillo Airport, the survey said.

Three-fourths of those surveyed said expanded air service would help the county’s economy. But nearly half said it would make traffic congestion worse.

The survey was done during the last two weeks. Residents were selected randomly from voter registration records, said Oxnard Economic Development Officer Linda Guillis. She said the number of residents from each city was calculated on a pro rata basis, with a greater number coming from larger cities, like Oxnard, and a smaller number coming from smaller cities, like Santa Paula.

At the present time, the Camarillo Airport provides no commercial air services. The Oxnard Airport has propeller-driven airliners and is the only airport in Ventura County with airline service.

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The establishment of a regional airport in western Ventura County has been discussed for years. Several potential sites--including Oxnard, Camarillo and Point Mugu--have been suggested, but none has had the support of the surrounding community.

Oxnard Councilwoman Dorothy Maron said she was not surprised by the survey. She said the airport in Oxnard cannot be expanded to a regional airport because the runway is too small and the airport too close to populated areas.

Camarillo City Councilman David Smith said residents in his city are adamantly opposed to a regional airport in Camarillo. He said Camarillo does “not have the space or adequate street access” to accommodate a big airport.

Anti-airport feeling is “probably the strongest local issue in Camarillo,” he said. “The issue is that the citizens of Camarillo don’t want a Los Angeles International Airport in their city.”

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George Lauterbach, president of the Oxnard Chamber of Commerce, said officials of both Camarillo and Oxnard have allowed residential and commercial development to hedge in the airports and prevent expansion.

He said the county would benefit economically from a regional airport.

Lauterbach predicted that a Ventura County airport will be developed in the future. He said federal or state officials will determine that heavy air traffic in Los Angeles, Burbank and Santa Barbara make one necessary.

“I don’t personally believe that a regional airport in Ventura County is inevitable,” said Scott Bollinger, a neighborhood council leader in Oxnard and vocal critic of noise and air pollution produced by the mostly small, private planes that currently use the Oxnard Airport.

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He said government agencies are becoming aware that air travel produces too much noise and pollution. Bollinger said politicians are realizing that they must turn to cleaner modes of transportation, such as trains.

A Ventura County airport would need to be away from populated areas but near a freeway, he said. Bollinger said he opposes people who say, “Let’s copy how things are done in Los Angeles and Orange County.”


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