KPBS and U-T plug Jacobs airport-moving scheme

Media money talking as billionaire and Burnham team for PR push

No word back yet on what the Marines think about giving up 5000 acres of Camp Pendleton — which covers approximately 125,000 acres.
  • No word back yet on what the Marines think about giving up 5000 acres of Camp Pendleton — which covers approximately 125,000 acres.

With the fate of the Union-Tribune still very much in limbo, Malin Burnham, who once aspired to take over the newspaper, and Irwin Jacobs, his longtime political comrade in-arms, have hatched yet another scheme.

Hillary Clinton and the Jacobses

Hillary Clinton and the Jacobses

Malin Burnham

Malin Burnham

The word comes via KPBS, the public broadcasting operation run by San Diego State University and funded by Jacobs, the Qualcomm co-founder with a host of political causes, including Hillary Clinton and Qualcomm executive Nathan Fletcher, the ex-GOP assemblyman-turned-Democrat and failed mayoral candidate.

"Cal State San Marcos will unveil research this week that examines the feasibility of building a new international airport on the Camp Pendleton Marine base," according to the December 7 report.

"Well-known San Diego businessmen and philanthropists Irwin Jacobs and Malin Burnham support the research," the story added, not noting the KPBS-Jacobs tie or saying how much the billionaire Democrat had come up with for the airport project.

A 2014 document posted online by San Marcos says that Qualcomm provided $35,000 for the first phase of the two-year project, headed by Glen Brodowsky, a San Marcos marketing professor, but does not mention Jacobs.

“In no way does this replace, but rather augments the air-travel opportunities in the region,” Brodowsky was quoted by KPBS as saying.

“So they have direct flights to Asia, Latin America and Europe, in addition to wonderful connections within the U.S. from Lindbergh Field."

Eli Broad

Eli Broad

The Union-Tribune — said to be a candidate for takeover by Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad, another Jacobs friend and political ally — is also onboard with the plan.

"Someday, hopefully not too many years from now, sensible San Diegans will come to realize that the tiny, one-runway 'international' airport at Lindbergh Field is wholly inadequate and a significant obstacle to this region’s economic growth," the paper declared in an October 31 editorial, adding, "San Diego business leaders Malin Burnham and Irwin Jacobs have been quietly and patiently pushing the idea for several years."

On December 7, the paper sounded off again.

"California State University, San Marcos, has produced two extensive studies the past two years concluding that it is not only feasible, but the best new airport option for Southern California," said the U-T, adding, "San Diego business leaders Malin Burnham and Irwin Jacobs have been been pushing the idea behind the scenes for several years."

Previous San Diego mega-airport schemes, including ex-U-T publisher Douglas Manchester's 1994 push for a move to what was then Miramar Naval Air Station and a similar 2006 effort both failed, but Burnham has not lost faith.

"The ballot issue for Miramar was to ask the military to vacate it and give it to the civilians — 100 percent," KPBS quoted Burnham as saying. "We’re not asking the Marines to do that. We will be asking the Marine Corps eventually, to give up 5000 or 6000 acres on the very southwest corner of the base.”

Though most other observers aren't as sanguine about the project's fortunes as Burnham and Jacobs, the mere presence of the two wealthy media mavens could guarantee continued fawning coverage of the venture, as evidenced by the simultaneous U-T and KPBS coverage.

Meanwhile, ultimate control of the U-T, the big piñata of San Diego media, continues up for grabs, with L.A.'s Broad still reportedly determined to ultimately take the prize and the remaining political clout it wields.

Share / Tools

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • AddThis
  • Email

More from SDReader


With all that is going on in the world, does anyone really think it is a good idea for the Marines to give up substantial training areas? Does anyone really think that air traffic over and around Marine training areas is a reasonable and good idea?

I think the Marines need their land.

Mr. Potter, you have to remember that Jacobs and Burnham live in a world that is vastly different from ours. 5,000 acres is nothing, since the USMC would still retain control of 120,000 acres, and a few planes flying over the southwestern edge would not be disruptive--at least not for Jacobs and Burnham, who probably fly in private, corporate jets anyway.

One can only wonder why these septuagenarian/octogenarian types are so strongly interested in public works that will never be seen in their own lifetimes. Is "Jake" back to building a memorial to himself and his billions? Neither will live long enough to fly into or out of a new SD airport. Maybe both are just public spirited visionary civic leaders. Maybe both just want to leave the world "a better place than they inherited," Or maybe both are just aging egotists who are sure their ideas are better than those of anyone else.

An airport in that location is too far away from the population of the county to really serve the area. It would be more appreciated by those who live in southern Orange County than anyone residing south of I-8. Taking 5K acres from the vastness of Camp Pendleton doesn't sound like a lot, but that would impact the rest of the base, and sharply limit the use of areas around it to the tune of three times as much land area. That would reduce the value for training sharply, and might make the corps decide to go elsewhere for training involving maneuver. How can those rich guys explain the loss of billets to the local economy?

Fawning coverage of every crackpot idea from those two old clowns is a foregone conclusion in the local establishment media (that includes TV, too.) Let's expect that lack of funding will stifle such a proposal until it withers away.

Malin Burnham was crowing on the radio about how wonderful a Pendleton airport would be for residents of Riverside and other areas of OC. Thanks a lot, Gumby, for reviving this zombie idea which, even if it is undead, will never happen. I also heard that the "study" claims Lindbergh Field will have outgrown its site within about 20 years, which must be labeled the barefaced lie that it is. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore.

Stay strong, Marines, even if Jacobs' Semper Fi boy Nathan Fletcher comes around, lobbying for a change of venue. You've had to accept women in the ranks, but you can hang on to your real estate.

Would have been with you til your ugly crack about women in the Marines.

What was "ugly" about a statement of fact? Do you really think that change was embraced by Marine brass? It was mandated by the Secretary of Defense.

Funny thing - a claim that SD would outgrow Lindbergh Field in 20 years was made at least 20 years ago.

Oh please! "Back in the day" when there was nothing on Mira Mesa but scrub brush there was a proposal to build a new airport next to Miramar NAS but it went no where. Why do these wealthy idiots think an airport will ever be built on a military reservation? While Lindbergh is a small airport it is located it the best place to serve San Diego.

"Back in the day", say the early 1950s, the Federal Government offered Miramar to San Diego for an airport but our always forward-thinking elected officials declined the offer because Miramar was too far away from town.

Small thinking has always been the problem with San Diego. Think small has been the politicians motto. A San Diego visionary is considered one who sees far into the future like all the way to next election.

Alex, there is only so much concrete to pave everything over.

So is Burnham hoping to be the developer of that airport, if that approval ever happens?

Wake Up SoCal

This is just the first of many "land grabs" of USMC land that we will see.

The only thing that we should beg the USMC to "give up" is a tiny speck of land so that all the ☢ Waste at San Onofre can be relocated to a much higher elevation and stored far inland instead of being stored on the beach for decades for come.

This would not affectUSMC Air or Ground Ops. and it would "protect" all of SoCal from a Tsunami that could possible spread radiation that would affect property values "forever"...

Fukushima proved that Nature can destroy any land based nuclear reactor (or it's radioactive waste storage), any place anytime 24/7!

captd/founder Answer this question for me. Which do you think has the greater likelyhood of occurring in the San Onofre /Pendleton area, a tsunami or a damaging earthquake? Camp Pendleton has a very high earthquake risk, with a total of 440 earthquakes since 1931. The USGS database shows that there have been 8 earthquakes of a 5 or greater magnitude, 6 of those quakes6 or greater, in the last 100 years, and there is a 83.73% chance of a major earthquake within 50km of Camp Pendleton within the next 50 years. The largest earthquake within 30 miles of Camp Pendleton was a 5.6 Magnitude in 1986. A little-known fault called the Clark Fault, runs through eastern San Diego County and is part of the San Jacinto Fault Zone, producing another 5+ earthquake about 10 years ago. The fault runs from Hemet, in Riverside County, to the Salton Sea; Camp Pendleton is about 30 to 50 miles west of the Clark Fault. There is an almost 100 % chance of a major earthquake causing damage San Diego County at some point in the future. There are faults in San Diego county capable of producing a magnitude 7 earthquakes and the San Andres is about 100 miles away and is capable of producing an 8. Yes, storing any nuclear waste near the beach, not on the beach as you claim, is a bad idea. But is it any better an idea to move it "to a much higher elevation and stored far inland instead", an area that is more prone to a potential major earthquake that the beach is to a Fukushima sized tsunami really a "better" idea. I don't happen to think so. BTW, based on previous history, and magnified by BRAC results over the last 20 years, DoD is not going to allow any part of largest West Coast expeditionary training facility to be "taken". Not to mention that with live fire exercises conducted regularly, there is absolutely no chance that a nuclear waste repository would ever be located there.

Can they move that planned nuclear waste repository to the Salton Sea? [Just kidding!]

danfogel - Sorry for the late reply Uphill is far better than nearly on the beach plus it would put it above and away from both Highway 5 and the train tracks, not to mention that it would be inside CP which is patrolled 24/7 which would provide yet another level of security.

I'm sure there are many locations of the edge of CP (any one of which that could be used) and not affect any of their activities.

As the largest coastal base for the Marine Corps and the only location on the West Coast to conduct amphibious landing operations and training, Camp Pendleton is a unique and irreplaceable asset important to the defense of the nation and its interests around the world. The primary value of Camp Pendleton is in its ranges - integrated land, sea, and air space, with committed live-fire opportunities unmatched anywhere in the world. These training ranges cannot be replaced or duplicated. Marines aboard Camp Pendleton conduct artillery, mortar, and air-to-ground munitions training, which is incompatible with housing a large international airport on the base. Plus, the impacts to the environment and surrounding communities will require expensive and extensive mitigation efforts destroying years of carefully planned and executed environmental stewardship of both Camp Pendleton and its neighbors. Simply put, building an international airport anywhere on Camp Pendleton renders the rest of the installation effectively unusable for Marine Corps training evolutions like Exercise Steel Knight that is currently being conducted and places into jeopardy the mission of the Marine Corps on the base.

Log in to comment

Skip Ad