Thursday, July 28, 2011 – 09:30 a.m.
InlandPolitics.com has learned that a study performed to evaluate the viability of the San Bernardino International Airport was actually commissioned and paid for by the facility’s governing authority.
The study, conducted by California State University at San Bernardino and California State University at Fullerton, was unique in its timing.
The report was used as a basic “puff-piece” to tout the “potential” future economic benefits from the redevelopment and re-fit of the airport, formally the shuttered Norton Air Force base.
The document emerged just in time to aid the airport authority’s attempt at counter-attacking a scathing San Bernardino County Grand Jury report questioning expenditures and decision-making at the location.
The Inland Valley Development Agency (IVDA), formed in 1990, has been the sole financial life line to the airport re-make.
IVDA has a funding stream from property-tax increment within the agency’s redevelopment project area. An area that extends far and wide
The actual airport makes up a small portion of the IVDA sphere of influence, which extends deep into the City of San Bernardino.
The San Bernardino International Airport Authority (SBIAA), formed in 1992, has direct oversight of airport operations and development.
The boards of both agencies are inter-locking. In other words they are comprised of mostly the same members.
Public reports say $142 million has been sunk into the near dormant facility. However, sources close to the situation say the number is more like $200 million.
The Cal-State report, with very little hard factual independent research, concluded that the airport may eventually attract enough jobs to counter the effects of the air force base closure.
The only problem staring everyone down is the base started reducing active duty operations in 1989, with the last blue uniform departing in 1994.
A elapsed timed period of 17 years.
Over the past year the site of the former military base has become a focal point of criticism and scrutiny that finally reached critical mass this year.
Calls for investigation have continually mounted as allegations bubble to the surface claiming airport funding has been used to line the pockets of politically-connected local businesses .
The continued focus on converting the base into a passenger airport flies in the face of many negative factors.
The most glaring is air traffic control.
What is know as the Terminal Radar Approach Control governing SBIA and Ontario International Airport favors the Ontario facility.
In other words, the location of SBIA makes it a geographically less attractive location for air traffic considerations.
A second issue is the fact that activity at Ontario has dwindled significantly over the past few years.
Ontario is centrally-located and also surrounded by the 57, 10, 60 and 15 freeways.
A third issue? Competitive activity at March Air Reserve Base in Moreno Valley and Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, also two former active duty bases, has far outpaced SBIA.
More to come…….