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$22 million airport expansion gets go-ahead in Calexico

June 11, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The city Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve a $22 million expansion of the Calexico International Airport even though a Los Angeles-based developer hopes to build a business park where the airport's new terminal could go.

At the start of Monday's commission meeting, Planning Director Ricardo Hinojosa recommended approval of the airport's "master plan package," a lengthy list of measures that will be employed during construction of a new terminal, a reconfiguration of Anza Road and extension of the airport's runways.

He said all affected agencies, including the Federal Aviation Administration and the California Department of Transportation, were given a chance to comment on the package during a 30-day review period. He said the few comments the agencies submitted were answered by the airport's consultant, P&D Aviation of Orange.


Commissioner Richard Romero asked if a Los Angeles developer looking to buy land south of the airport had been told about the airport master plan. Hinojosa said he received no comment from the developer.

Arman Gabay of Los Angeles has an exclusive negotiating agreement with the city for the purchase of 32 acres south of the airport.

According to the airport's master plan, 16 of those acres would be used to put a big southern curve into Anza Road. A new terminal would be built north of the new curve.

If the City Council eventually approves the airport's expansion, the developer could scrap his plans for a business park or tweak the plans to work with the airport. It could be an easy adjustment since the developer's proposed business park would have been built only if a border mall, right next to the downtown port of entry, turned a profit.

Doug Sachman of P&D Aviation told the commission at a previous meeting the improved Calexico airport would be able to hangar 56 planes at the airport and handle more than 27,000 take-offs and landings a year. Currently the airport houses 25 planes and handles some 11,000 to 12,000 take-offs and landings.

Airport Manager Luis Estrada said the $22 million for the expansion would come from a combination of public financing, private investment and grants.

The total cost to the city could be less than $2 million for road construction and infrastructure and that likely would come from a Measure D account instead of the city's general fund or Redevelopment Agency account.

In other business, the commission approved the subdivision of a parcel of land at the northwest corner of the intersection of highways 111 and 98. That parcel is one of 12, now 13, that will make up the Crossroads Plaza, the new shopping center that will be built on the site of the old FedMart.

Commissioner Arturo Selwick tacked on a condition that will require the landowners to disclose their plans for maintaining the plaza's common areas.

Toward the end of the meeting, Selwick said the city should consider hiring private investigators to uncover code violations so city inspectors would not be placed in awkward positions.

At a recent City Council meeting a woman who was cited for a code violation told the council she was suing the city because she felt the city building department harassed her.

Chairman John Moreno said he would like the commission to look at installing pedestrian lights in the downtown. He compared the current situation downtown to a "silent movie; the Keystone Kops."

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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