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Opinion, Santa Monica, Santa Monica Airport

Letter To The Editor: SMO Is An Economic Engine For Santa Monica

Posted Mar. 25, 2014, 10:45 am

Letter To The Editor

Editor's Note: This is an open letter sent to members of the Santa Monica City Council regarding tonight's discussion on the future of Santa Monica Airport.

Dear Councilmembers,

I have read the staff report that is on the agenda for the March 25th council meeting. As long time user of the airport facilities and as a property owner who has lived under the airport flight path for over 30 years, I am opposed to the conclusions and the direction that the staff proposes to take.

The airport is an important economic engine for Santa Monica and the surrounding area. Nearly $300 million of business and the employment of over 1500 people who then support families, pay taxes and vote stands to be destroyed by the actions you have directed staff to enact. The leases and landing fees support all of the other airport activities including the artist studios and Santa Monica College.

The constant clamoring over issues of noise, pollution and safety by a minority of residents of the surrounding area does not adequately represent the feelings of the majority of either Santa Monicans or the residents of the surrounding communities.

There are fewer flights entering and leaving the airport than at almost any time in its history. There is less noise than ever as total flights diminish and both jets and propeller planes advance technologically and become quieter and more pollution free. In fact, staff has been unable to show any statistics that point to any major health or safety issues at the airport.

In spite of 2010 EPA study that showed no cause for concern about leaded aviation fuel, the FAA, in conjunction with major refiners, has worked diligently to replace leaded fuel and Shell Oil has now applied for a permit to sell unleaded aviation fuel. This will soon alleviate any possible concern about this form of pollution.

No matter what the anti-airport activists would have you believe, in the 90 plus years of the airport's operation, there has never been an aviation accident that resulted in the death of any resident of Santa Monica on the ground. Residents under the flight path have a larger chance of being hit by lightning than being hit by an airplane.

Not only is the airport a vital reliever for surrounding airports and a lifeline in any crisis such as an earthquake, tsunami or other disaster, it is currently the originator of over 800 Angel Flights per year conducted by volunteer pilots who use their own planes, free of charge, to fly children and adults to receive critical medical care. It is also the start or end point of numerous time-critical and life saving organ donations flown in by jet.

All of these benefits are put in jeopardy by your proposals to shorten the runway or close the airport. Don't let the constant complaints of a few destroy all the benefits the airport provides to the community.

I ask the council to immediately restore the Airport Commission to its previous balance of all the stakeholders who use and live around the airport and to instruct staff to diligently work to make the historic Santa Monica Airport once again the vital asset to the city that it should be.


Joseph Bates


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Mar. 26, 2014, 4:56:15 pm

John Fairweather said...

Aviation proponents say the airport is an economic engine: But it has racked up a $13 million subsidies

Mar. 26, 2014, 5:01:02 pm

John Fairweather said...

Aviation proponents say the airport is an economic engine: But it has racked up $13 million in subsidies

Mar. 26, 2014, 5:04:41 pm

John Fairweather said...

Aviation proponents say the airport is an economic engine, But it has racked up $13 million in subsidies

Mar. 26, 2014, 5:05:47 pm

John Fairweather said...

Aviation proponents say the airport is an economic engine, But it has racked up $13 million in subsidies and debt to the City over the years. These claims are based on a flawed HR and A study that merged aviation and non-aviation revenues, and modeled aviation income using tourism percentages from commercial airports like LAX. I’d be amazed if more than a handful of tourists arrive via SMO each year. Aviation represents just 1 of 42 industry sectors at SMO, and with 178 jobs is 19% of total jobs. The HR and A data shows aviation benefits could be replaced by a single medium sized office building. It takes 4,600 square feet per aviation job at the airport. Leased to commercial tenants that same space would support more than 3,000 additional jobs. Moreover, if existing buildings were leased to non-aviation tenants, the city would bring in $5-10 million extra revenue per year. The truth is aviation at SMO is an economic disaster. Non-aviation uses on the other hand are an economic boon the the economy and the City.

Mar. 26, 2014, 5:11:10 pm

To Mr. Anti Airport said...

Posting 3 times won't get your point across, John. Get your facts straight. Federal funds from the FAA are NOT subsidies and the airport earns millions more than it requires to operate. User fees and fuel taxes alone cover much of that not including jobs and other stimulus to the local economy. Don't let fact get in the way John. We know you're one of the developer pawns that runs the anti-airport groups.

Mar. 26, 2014, 5:15:17 pm

Jim Meyers said...

For all of those wondering who Fairweather is, Google pops up that he is an outspoken opponent of the airport. Of course he's yelling at the top of his lungs because he doesn't have the moral majority behind him. Santa Monicans are waking up against these "astro turf" groups that promise parks but are actually just homeowners concerned about the house prices and real estate developers looking for a land grab.

Mar. 27, 2014, 10:41:17 am

Agenda exposed said...

John is full of **it. He has an aviation background (Hawker and Lear) so he knows full well how much money there is being contributed by SMO. He lives directly under the runway and that's his problem. No one forced him to buy that home but he expects YOU to be responsible for it. That is the truth. John, I bought a home next to the Costco. Can you help me close it down because I don't like the traffic?

Mar. 27, 2014, 1:08:00 pm

Larry Shields said...

Keven McKeown and Pam O'Conner in particular aren't listening to their constituents. Between this and the Hines development debacle, I hope people will vote them both out. It's obvious they don't want any of this to come to a vote. It's obvious the developers have a hold over them. They have sworn to waste millions more tax payer dollars fighting but they won't let the voters decide. Well, the voters need to take a stand and put these two out of a job.

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