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Santa Monica Airport (SMO).
Photo by Alexandra Milner
Santa Monica Airport (SMO).

News, Santa Monica, Santa Monica Airport, Smo

Airport Commission, Residents Explore SMO Visioning Process

Posted Apr. 27, 2012, 12:50 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

Amidst all the discussion of whether Santa Monica Airport (SMO) should remain open after City Hall’s three-decade agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expires in 2015, ripe is the time to contemplate what to do with the area should the landing field actually shut down.

The Santa Monica Airport Commission convened its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on April 23 at City Hall’s Council Chambers, with a packed gallery in attendance to listen in on several presentations discussing the future of SMO.

A community workshop organized into five sections, the shorthanded Airport Commission heard from community members and legal counsel, among others, to explore all of SMO’s options.

Of course, City Hall would have to convince federal authorities to allow it full autonomy over SMO before local officials and residents can have a substantive say in altering the airport’s flight plan post-2015.

A sneak peek of the escalated fight that could be between residents, City Hall, and the FAA was evident in the first two presentations made at the April 23 meeting.

Michele Perrone addressed commissioners on behalf of the Ocean Park Association (OPA), sharing with them survey results that strongly indicated opposition of Ocean Park residents against SMO’s continued operations post-2015.

For example, 45 percent of the 244 Ocean Park residents who responded to the survey said they wanted SMO to permanently close. Another 39 percent wanted negative impacts to be mitigated.

John Fairweather of the Community Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic (CASMAT) presented survey results of what its respondents hoped SMO would be repurposed as if it no longer operated as an airport. For example, some respondents hoped the airport would be converted into open space.

A pair of attorneys discussed possible legal arguments that could support either shutting down SMO entirely or drastically curtailing its operations.

Another portion of the workshop focused on land use options should City Hall be allowed to determine SMO’s fate. Options included perhaps shortening the runway so planes do not take off so close to homes, or develop a park similar to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park or New York City’s Central Park.

Goddard also presented an economic review of SMO, while commissioners finished question-and-answer session and a discussion of practical steps both the appointed committee and residents can take now and in 2015 to best address the airport’s future.

Goddard will present the take-away from the workshop to the City Council at its May 8 meeting.

At that meeting, both council members and the public will continue shaping the airport’s visioning process and, potentially, commence policy-making considerations of SMO’s future post-2015.

Post a comment


Apr. 27, 2012, 12:45:26 pm

Anne Hawthorne said...

The airport commission under Richard Brown is the only arm of the city that is doing any legitimate visioning for the future of the airport. The city attorney and the city manager appear to be under the spell of the FAA, having set up the entire "visioning" process to carefully avoid a vision of reducing or eliminating air traffic -- a vision which a clear majority of SM residents and other constituents would support if they were given a chance. That commissioner David Goddard had to volunteer his time to analyze airport revenue and expenses on behalf of the public is outrageous. Monday night (April 23) was the first airport-related public meeting that offered any original ideas. Richard Brown deserves a lot of credit for devoting much of his very valuable time during the last years of his life to airport issues. He will be greatly missed. And many thanks are due to David Goddard and the other commissioners for stepping in at an extremely difficult moment to carry on his leadership.

Apr. 27, 2012, 2:12:33 pm

Hal said...

The thought of turning Clover Field Airport into a park such as Golden Gate, or Central Park is a dazzling proposal. Unquestionably, it would make Santa Monica a world-class city. In the city's Socialist-oriented government, this would be a true gift to the citizenry. Keep this proposal on the burner.

Apr. 28, 2012, 5:21:53 pm

Edward Rosiak said...

Rather than contribute to the emotional uproar surrounding Santa Monica Airport, my suggestion is that the residents of Santa Monica go to the California Division or Aeronautics web site and download the document titled California Airport Land Use Planning Handbook. This and other similar documents were created to insure that California’s airports are not completely encroached with incompatible land use. And to assist airport sponsors and planners to do educated planning around airports. Airport land planning guidance has been available since the 1970’s. Those residents upset with airports should first look to city or county officials, as well as local politicians, who ignored available guidance and created the problems at hand. This is the core problem associated with most airport issues. One other important fact is - when a municipality contracts with the FAA for money to upgrade an airport that municipality accepts the conditions associated with it. These conditions do not expire.

Apr. 30, 2012, 10:18:35 am

Xboomer said...

"45% of the 244 Ocean Park residents want SMO to be permantely closed". That means 55% want it to stay open. Just thought I would point that out.

Apr. 30, 2012, 10:57:15 am

Otto said...

Anybody who attended this meeting will take away some amazing information: 1) Since 1981, the City of Santa Monica has had a resolution and legal obligation in place that states that the airport should be shut down as soon as possible, yet they continue to contradict this requirement by not simply following their obligation to provide the “legal minimum”. This action raises the question of what could possibly influence the commissioners to not follow their own rules.. 2) The public is overwhelmingly interested in reducing or eliminating the airport. 3) There are numerous studies from well established organizations that document the negative impacts of the airport on the community. 4) The airport is being subsidized with our tax dollars and “non-airport” revenues. It could be eliminated, converted into a variety of “non-airport” businesses and actually generate more money to the city without the pollution, safety risks, or any significant increase in traffic. 5) A class action law suit may soon be plaguing the City of Santa Monica and a number of lawyers, who are also local residents, are already on board.

May. 2, 2012, 7:41:21 am

Edwad Rosiak said...

The facts are that the state collects $300-$400 million dollars in taxes associated with aircraft every year. Each municipality collects money in taxes on aircraft using its airport. 72% of those taxes collected go directly back to the municipality to be used by the municipality and for its schools. 26% go into the black hole in Sacramento called the General Fund, and 2% are returned for the operation of aviation in the state. Given the mix of aircraft at SMO I seriously doubt that the city is spending “tax payers” money on its airport, unless it considers the 72% of taxes collected as a result of aircraft operations. Aviators are tax payers too.

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