Dispute over airport fee could delay Chula Vista Bayfront project

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) — A growing turf war over a fee at the San Diego International Airport is threatening to delay the massive project to revitalize Chula Vista's bayfront about 15 miles south.

The Port of San Diego is already clearing land to make way for a new resort and convention center. RIDA Development has already been selected to build both. 

The issue now is how to pay for the 1,600 space parking garage next door. 

The Port imposed a $3.50 cent fee on rental cars at the airport to help finance the $40 million garage, which a spokeswoman says is authorized in The Port Act. 

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"This fee is a tried-and-true method for financing a parking facility that has worked great in San Diego already. It is a previously Board-adopted and legislatively-created funding that is explicitly authorized in Port Act Section 57.5," said Port Spokeswoman Tanya Castaneda.

But the Airport Authority says it has the power to impose the fees at its facility. The Authority joined a lawsuit by Hertz and Enterprise challenging the fees - leading to concerns of delays.

"It would have been nice before this fee was levied for someone to reach out to us," said April Boling, the Airport Authority's chair. "We can change or back out, if you want to call it that, if our concerns are met, and that is the conversation we want to have, and we have asked to have."

RELATED: Port of San Diego, Chula Vista moves forward with bayfront development

Meanwhile, public officials and the business community are hoping the project moves forward without delay.

"Our business community and our citizens of South County deserve the change to have this economic prosperity brought to their portion of the region," said Cindy Gompper-Graves, who heads the South County Economic Development Council.

Hertz and Enterprise, challenging the fee as an illegal tax, did not immediately return calls seeking comment. 

The rental car fee is expected to raise $5 million a year.

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