Countywide : Airport Director Calls Parking Big Priority

Newly appointed John Wayne Airport Director O. B. Schooley said the biggest challenge of his new job involves automobiles and where to park them.

Schooley, assistant manager of the airport since 1991, was recently named successor to Jan Mittermeier, who left her post in July to become county executive officer. Schooley has been serving as interim director since her departure.

The county bankruptcy has caused a one-year delay in the construction of a two-level addition to the airport’s covered parking lot, compounding the parking crunch, Schooley said.

“We’re feeling the pinch right now,” he said.


Schooley, 47, a county employee since 1977, was appointed by Mittermeier as airport director Oct. 25. As accounting manager for the airport from 1987-90, he was responsible for financial review and planning for the $310-million airport improvement project, which included construction of the new terminal.

A Costa Mesa resident, Schooley said he has lived within two miles of the airport since he was a year old.

The growing demand for parking comes from a rise in the number of flights at the airport. Since the opening of the Thomas F. Riley Terminal in 1990, the annual number of passengers has grown from 4.2 million to 7.4 million.

“We’re expecting to reach 8.4 million within the next year,” Schooley said.

The $25-million parking project, expected to add 2,100 parking spaces, is to get underway next summer.