Bill Chopyk and Carolina Gregor listen to Ann Pierce
  • Bill Chopyk and Carolina Gregor listen to Ann Pierce
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According to the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), the region's population will increase by 1.25 million people by the year 2050. Between now and then, close to 500,000 new jobs will be created.

A June 27 workshop called "San Diego Forward: The Regional Plan,” registered the public's perspective on issues including what type of employment should be fostered as the county population grows. The plan is scheduled for adoption in 2015, and SANDAG is conducting workshops throughout the region.

The East County workshop at the La Mesa Community Center drew 87 people. Participants divided into groups to discuss issues such as economic prosperity and what jobs they wanted in the region during the years leading up to 2050. That prompted Ann Pierce's proposal for "clean, nonpolluting industry,” such as eco-tourism in the Mountain Empire.

A member of the Mountain Health & Community Services advisory board, Pierce referred to the "beautiful vistas" in the 650-square-mile subregion that includes the communities of Potrero, Boulevard, Campo, and Jacumba, among others. The land in the southeast county and north of Tecate is known as the "backcountry"; think of it instead as "the gateway" to the county, said Pierce.

Bill Chopyk, La Mesa Community Services director, spoke about the various sides of an issue, such as the construction of a casino. It would "bring in a lot of money," but there may be concerns about issues such as traffic.

In regards to job creation, Carole Robasciotti of La Mesa noted that people — especially the aged — might not be able to leave their homes; she suggested that these people hire others to help them take care of small tasks. "Right now, we rely on volunteers," she said. SANDAG planner Carolina Gregor noted that the population of residents age 65 and older is tripling.

La Mesan Joe Glidden suggested that his city look into bringing a microbrewery to town. "La Mesa is a nine-mile island," he said. "I hope that economic prosperity is not looking at another big-box store. I like to walk through the Village and buy locally. I don’t mind paying a little more to make sure [employees] have health care."

In a related matter, Robert Germann of Lakeside criticized a proposal to convert Gillespie Field airport into an “aerotropolis,” a modification that would transform the county-owned facility into an industrial hub.

The 852-acre airport "is in the heart of El Cajon," Germann said during a session on healthy communities. "The little planes all burn leaded fuel." (The council website described 55 acres of aviation use at Cajon Air Center and 37 acres of industrial use land available for development.)

Germann cited other concerns about the plan announced last April. The East County Economic Development Council is using a $50,000 grant to create a "strategic road map" to study development around the airport that borders Santee. According to a council news release, the group's regional partners include the cities of El Cajon and Santee.

After the session, Germann gave me a flyer from an aerotropolis opposition group. The flyer proposed other land uses that ranged from a stadium for the Chargers to an entertainment complex.  

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Comments

Javajoe25 July 3, 2013 @ 11:11 a.m.

Geez, these guys sound so civilized as compared to what goes on in South County/Sweetwater. Maybe it's still early?

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EdBlitz July 15, 2013 @ 3 p.m.

The only thing an aerotropolis will bring is more flight schools which means more flights over homes at all hours, more lead pollution, more noise and an even greater threat of an accident.

I can guarantee you that this study will simply expound on the economic benefits of an aerotropolis at Gillespie, the light industry it will attract, the business development, the possibility of hotels and restaurants, and the jobs that will be created.

The study will say that it will be an economic engine for Santee and El Cajon. THAT IS PATENTLY FALSE.

Recently I drove the perimeter of Gillespie Field. I found over 30 for lease or sale signs and I found over 700,000 square feet available. Space that has been available for quite some time. So where’s the economic engine? Do we really need to build more?

I also found that there are two large churches, occupying many thousands of square feet at the perimeter of Gillespie. The reason those churches are there is because the space is cheap. Churches are tax exempt and employ very few people. So where’s the economic engine?

Furthermore, the lease rates for hangars paid at Gillespie are quite low, far below fair market value

In June 2012 the Board of Supervisors agreed to the expansion of 70 acres at Gillespie Field. Supervisor Dianne Jacob noted that Gillespie has a preponderance of flight schools and stipulated that no more flight schools be added. Gillespie currently has between 9 and 11 schools. This is far more than at any of the other surrounding airports. In fact, several have relocated to Gillespie because of the favorable lease rates and lack of rules.

Last September I attended a workshop that explained the proposal process with respect to this 70- acre development. The only attendees that showed any interest in future development were the flight schools. So where’s the economic engine? Where’s the light industry and other businesses we keep hearing about? Do we really need to build more?

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