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Politics

Auditor Says San Diego Needs To Update Plans For Airports

The city of San Diego should update plans and goals for its Airports Division, which operates the Brown Field and Montgomery Field general aviation airports, according to a city auditor's office report released Tuesday.

In its 43-page report, the auditor's office said the airports offer significant potential for development, but city officials have not seized on the opportunity to maximize revenue, improve facilities or create a long-range plan for the facilities.

The report criticized the Real Estate Assets Department for missing opportunities and having insufficient planning and oversight of Brown Field, in Otay Mesa near the Mexican border, and Montgomery Field, in Kearny Mesa.

Among the problems uncovered in the audit:

• the Airports Division doesn't have a master list of renters

• many airport leases are in holdover status

• lease revenues have not increased with the local market or have errors

• maintenance and inspections of leased areas are inconsistent

• various fees have not been reviewed and adjusted as called for by City Council policy.

Airport lessees include individual aircraft owners, flight schools and fixed-base operators, which provide fuel, maintenance and storage facilities, among other things.

The auditors discovered that more Montgomery Field revenue is derived from non-aviation sources, including a hotel, restaurant, business park, office space and the U.S. Border Patrol. The auditors said Montgomery Field earned $3.7 million in revenue in Fiscal Year 2014. While the facility brought in $1 million from aviation leasing, nearly $1.6 million came from non-aviation leasing.

Brown Field generated more than $932,600 in the same time period, with $374,000 from aviation leasing and $265,000 from commercial leasing.

Montgomery Field hosted more than 215,000 flight operations last year, up from 182,000 or so two years earlier, according to the audit. Brown Field had over 90,000 operations, down from 92,000 in 2012.

The report recommended that the Airports Division determine the costs and a timeline for updating airport planning documents; develop an annual planning document that sets short-term and long range goals for development and revenue; and review, update or develop policies and procedures that govern department operations.

Management for the division agreed with all three recommendations.