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Easier Travel Through Tijuana Airport Possible For SD Residents

— The San Diego City Council voted unanimously today to begin the process of amending the Otay Mesa Community Plan to make it easier for San Diegans to fly into, and out of, Tijuana's international airport.

The zoning change would allow for development of a cross-border facility on about 60 acres, covering 30 properties south of Siempre Viva Road along the U.S-Mexico border between Britannia Boulevard and La Media Road.

Supporters of a larger regional airport to replace San Diego's Lindbergh Field have eyed Gen. Abelardo L. Rodriguez International Airport as a bi-national solution in the past.

A cross-border facility -- details of which were not discussed -- would not be a bi-national regional airport, but could ease the flow of passengers and cargo between the countries.

It would increase border-crossing capacity for up to 2 million ticketed airline passengers, reduce delays at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry, build air travel capacity and lighten the load on San Diego's Lindbergh Field, provide access to flights with lower fares and serve as an economic engine for Otay Mesa, according to a Nov. 9 memorandum from council President Ben Hueso to his colleagues.

A number of speakers representing South Bay business interests spoke in favor of the amendment.

Car dealer Tony McCune called it a "vital issue" that has been in the works for 15 years.

"It would mean a great deal for our county, our city, for jobs and for cross-border relations," McCune said.

A private developer has signed onto the project, which supporters say has received approvals from a variety of agencies, including the federal government.

The issue is one of several that Hueso put on the agenda in his final days in office. He was termed out and will yield his seat on the City Council next Monday.

Any proposed amendment would have to undergo a staff analysis and environmental review, then be approved by the Otay Mesa Community Planning Group before being taken up by the City Council.

Hueso said he hoped the amendment will be passed within three months.

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