$3.50 rental car fee fight threatens Chula Vista bayfront project

CHULA VISTA, Calif. – A $3.50 airport car rental fee has become a point of contention between the City of Chula Vista and the San Diego Regional Airport Authority and may threaten the $1 billion bayfront project in the South Bay community.

The rental car fee, collected by the airport authority, is supposed to fund the South Bay hotel and convention center’s $40 million parking structure.

At Tuesday evening’s, Chula Vista City Council addressed a lawsuit filed by two rental car companies, who are asking for a court to order the port to stop charging the fee and refund money they’ve already collected.

Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas said the San Diego airport’s governing body is threatening the structure’s funding by supporting the lawsuit. The two rental car companies now operate at the new facility owned by the airport authority.

“It’s pretty outrageous, makes me pretty darn mad,” Salas said. “It’s pretty pathetic that South Bay is always being dumped on. This is just another indicator that we don’t have the respect we deserve.”

Salas worries the lawsuit will slow down the massive bayfront development and ultimately cost her city a lot of money and jobs.

“The airport authority did not initiate this lawsuit,” an airport authority spokesman said. “We’re not a plaintiff, however we do need to have a seat at the table to protect interests of our tenants and customers when the court considers this issue.”

A representative from the Airport Authority spoke at the council meeting defending their actions.

It has said the rental car tax began in 1994 when the Port owned the land used by rental car companies. Now, those companies operate in the structure run by the airport authority, who wants to have a say where and how the rental car tax is spent.

Chula Vista and the Port are joining forces to get stop legal action.