Mailbag: Newport should avoid marketing JWA

In the June 6 article "JWA director says flights to D.C. in the works," we at AirFair were surprised to learn that the head of Newport Beach's visitor's bureau, Gary Sherwin, was one of the people leading marketing efforts for John Wayne Airport.

At the June 6 meeting of the Government Affairs Committee for the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce, also known as Wake Up! Newport, Alan Murphy, JWA's director, reported the formation of the Air Service Task Force, composed of members of the Orange County Business Council, Anaheim Orange County Visitor's Bureau and Sherwin.

Sherwin's participation is surprising, because the visitor's bureau, Visit Newport Beach, or Newport Beach Inc. as it is also known, is funded solely through a transit occupancy tax imposed by the city. According to its website, "Visit Newport Beach Inc. is a non-profit, 501(c)6 marketing organization under contract with the city to position Newport Beach as a visitor and conference destination."

At AirFair, an airport activist group, we support the marketing of Newport Beach. However, that support does not include marketing JWA. As we have said, "The mission of AirFair is to establish a strong political base of regional support focused on maintaining the current curfew, flight and passenger caps at John Wayne Airport."

Indeed, City Council Policy A-17 states: "The City Council's primary objective is to protect Newport Beach residents from the adverse impacts of commercial aircraft operations at and from John Wayne Airport."

At its Jan. 12 special meeting regarding 2013 priorities, the City Council reiterated its support of limiting JWA as its primary objective. Further, the City Council authorized Mayor Nancy Gardner's May 9 letter of support for the city of Ontario's bid to acquire the Ontario Airport from Los Angeles World Airport.

It is hard to understand how Sherwin can serve two masters: marketing JWA and serving Newport Beach. Now, apparently, Newport Beach has put itself in the position of both protecting its residents from growth at JWA and marketing JWA via Newport Beach Inc., which will also conflict with the city's support of Ontario.

The City Council should consider long and hard how it can resolve this conflict.

Melinda Seely

President, AirFair

Newport Beach

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