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O.C. Drops Posts on 2 Airport Boards

Times Staff Writer

Orange County supervisors pulled out of two regional airport boards Tuesday, a symbolic end to the county’s eight-year fight to build a second airport at the closed El Toro Marine base.

Supervisors voted 3 to 2, with Jim Silva and Chuck Smith dissenting, to drop out of the Southern California Regional Airport Authority and the Orange County Regional Airport Authority.

The county’s departure spells the likely end of both boards, which were energized in recent years to push for construction of a commercial airport at El Toro. That plan was rejected by Orange County voters last year.

Neither airport board has “done anything productive in many months,” said Supervisors Chairman Tom Wilson. “The action today has been inevitable.”

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Only Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties still have representatives on the five-member Southern California board -- less than a quorum. Riverside County dropped its membership last year. Los Angeles city representatives haven’t attended meetings in more than a year.

Southern California airport authority board members conferred by phone after Orange County’s vote and agreed to pay $18,000 still owed to executive director Peggy Ducey, a former Newport Beach official who once worked for the Orange County airport panel.

The group still has some money, thanks to annual dues of $50,000 from each member agency. Orange County paid its membership in 2001 but nothing since.

At its height, the Orange County airport board had 14 city members and the county as an ex-officio member. After its formation in the 1960s to fight an airport at Chino Hills, it was dormant until its revival to push for an El Toro airport. Executive Director Jack Wagner couldn’t be reached Tuesday for comment.

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The larger regional authority was resurrected by L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe in March 2001 to seek ways to encourage carriers to move away from Los Angeles International Airport.


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