Supervisors Kill Largest Airport Plan

With only one dissenting vote, the Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to adopt a plan that would effectively kill the largest airport proposal for the El Toro Marine base.

The action makes it virtually impossible for a future board to adopt the large airport plan--calling for 33 million annual passengers--unless a separate environmental analysis is prepared.

Supervisors William G. Steiner and Thomas W. Wilson, who crafted an agreement to take the plan off the table, were unable to persuade their staunchly pro-airport colleague Charles V. Smith to vote with them.

"There was no need to do what they did today as far as I was concerned," Smith said.

"The only thing they did was to potentially cause some problems with the environmental impact report later on."

Still, the proposal's passage was a victory for Steiner and Wilson, who had been negotiating for the last three weeks.

"I had really hoped we would have received a unanimous vote but I'll take a 4-1 vote any day on the airport issue," Steiner said.

"This shows that there is a good faith effort by this board not to pull the rug out from under South County."

The original proposal, brought before the board two weeks ago, ran into trouble when Steiner suddenly withdrew support, saying that airport opponents were trying to create a "fatal flaw" in the airport project.

At the time, airport opponents demanded that the county never conduct an environmental impact report on the large plan.

That would have caused legal problems for the county down the road, officials said.

The board is scheduled to vote for a final airport plan in the fall of 1999.

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