Robert Germann at Gillespie Field
  • Robert Germann at Gillespie Field
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The East County Economic Development Council’s “strategic aerotropolis roadmap” for land surrounding Gillespie Field airport could include proposals for hotels and a facility for veterans to certify for civilian employment, development council president Jo Marie Diamond said in a July 15 interview.

“We want to create jobs" so people aren't getting in their cars and "going west to work," she said.

The plan for an economic hub around the airport won't include two uses proposed by Lakeside resident Robert Germann.

“There are so many empty buildings around Gillespie Field,” said Germann in a July 12 interview. “I favor a Chargers stadium. It gets a little warm; we have a water park.”

Germann, a retired truck driver, said he became concerned about airport issues in 2011 and joined the Advocates for Safe Airport Policies residents’ group before forming Citizens Against Gillespie Field Existence Low Flying Aircraft six months ago. There are about a dozen Lakeside residents in his group. Among the groups' concerns are that more flight schools will open.

Diamond said that the FAA requires aviation use on the land. Furthermore, the Gillespie Field Development Council (a group that advises the county) makes land-use recommendations for airport land.  

The airport property served as the Marine Corps' Camp Gillespie parachutist facility from 1942 until 1944, when the Marines phased out parachute units. In 1946, the county leased the field and converted it to a public airport. Eight years later, the federal government transferred the land to the county.

Gillespie Field encompasses 852 acres, according to the FAA. Among the issues concerning Germann is the use of 70 acres where cars raced at the Cajon Speedway from 1961 through 2004. The county leased that land for 50 years. The policy is now for 55-year leases with aviation use.

Germann showed me a form that officials — in this case, the county — would submit to apply for non-aviation use of Gillespie Field. The government "gave 70 acres to San Diego County, so we can decide," he said.

The East County Economic Development Council in April announced that it received a $50,000 grant from the San Diego Foundation Malin Burnham Center for Civic Engagement to develop the plan. Diamond said that the council expects to soon hear about a $300,000 Caltrans aeronautics grant. She added that the South County Economic Development Council is looking into the aerotropolis concept at Brown Field. Both councils applied for and would share a $40,000 Federal Economic Development Administration grant.

Diamond said issues for both include what kinds of jobs they want to attract. At Gillespie, uses could include research and development, museums, and a transit center. The council website cited 55 acres of aviation use at Cajon Air Center and 37 acres at Forrester Creek Road and Marshall Avenue zoned for industrial use.

The council does not yet have a schedule for when public meetings on the aerotropolis will be held.

At some point during our interview, Germann looked east, envisioning a stadium hosting the Super Bowl.

"There could be a landing strip for private planes," he said and suggested a name for the stadium. "We could call it Gillespie Field."

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EdBlitz July 23, 2013 @ 8:11 a.m.

I can guarantee you that a 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 all of the jobs that will be created. Diane Jacob already stated this and that it will be an “economic engine” for El Cajon and Santee. THAT IS PATENTLY FALSE. I recently 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? 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. Please don’t start saying I am anti-church. My point of bringing this up is that church’s 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. Many leaseholders simply sublet these hangars to others at much higher lease rates. So where’s the economic engine? In June 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; no one will give you a straight answer as to the actual number. 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. One of the larger schools is foreign owned and thus any profits do not even stay locally. So where’s the economic engine? In 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?


Msnvlysue July 23, 2013 @ 8:47 a.m.

More small planes over El Cajon, Santee and Lakeside will be horrible! They are noisy over our homes, even going late at night! They use Fully Leaded Fuel, spewing it over our families, homes and properties. I was horrified to learn that all of these planes use fully leaded fuel. Why is this allowed to happen. Leaded gas in planes has been banned all over the world, except in the US. Why? That's why these foreign flight schools want to use our air space. We are the only modern country that will allow them to fly! Please people! Protect our environment and insist that the FAA ban the use of leaded fuel!! How many Americans actually fly small planes anymore? Not many. WW2 veterans used to fly. Most American's can't afford to fly private planes anymore. Why do we want all these foreign pilots flying planes using leaded fuel over our airspace? Especially in San Diego with it's important military presence! Please resist the major expansion of Gillespie Field over our community!!


jmkretovics July 26, 2013 @ 7:11 p.m.

Reg is at it again ! My buddy is saving lakeside and Santee from corporate desperation and exploitation .Common sense dictates training pilots from other countries should be done in the deserts not in or over quiet neighborhoods . Santee and Lakeside have grown from sleepy little towns into the jewels of San Diego. A place to raise your children in peace with good schools great shopping and yet, a country feel . Mr Germann is an outstanding American citizen and patriot. I never meet an individual as fair and loyal as Reg. He was an outstanding shop Stewart . The only shop Stewart that put his people above all else. I wish he was my neighbor. He'd make a great Texan.


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