Anti-Airport Groups To Congress: Close Santa Monica Airport Control Tower

Friday, 8 Mar 2013, 8:38:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

Santa Monica Airport's tower has been identified as a possible closure.
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Santa Monica Airport's tower has been identified as a possible closure.

Two anti-airport groups have written to the area’s

federal representatives in Congress to push for the closure of Santa Monica

Airport’s (SMO) air control tower.

The letter, dated March 3, written on behalf of the

Citizens Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic (CASMAT) and Sunset Park

Anti-Airport, Inc., (SPAA) also sought the cessation of FAA funds to the

airport.

Five pages in length, the joint CASMAT-SPAA correspondence

was penned just one day after an estimated $1.2 trillion in federal cuts went

into effect March 1. Also referred to on Capitol Hill as sequestration, the

slash in funding also resulted in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

having to cut $600 million from its budget.

As part of the $600 million in cuts, the FAA publicly

issued a letter identifying 200 airports where tower closure could take place.

One of the airports listed is SMO.

Sent to Representatives Karen Bass (D-37th District) and

Henry Waxman (D-33rd District), the letter cited several reasons why the

federal government should provide less funding for SMO to the point where it is

no longer operational.

Among the reasons: too close to residential

neighborhoods; recent airplane crashes; new homeowners in the area immediately

surrounding SMO who do not care for the airport; the potential closure of 2,000

feet of runway; and, a poll where 80 percent of respondents favored airport

closure.

The letter also cited Resolution 6296, approved by Santa

Monica’s City Council in 1981, which sought to create a policy of seeking

closure of SMO “as soon as possible.”

Finally, both groups contend the airport’s operations

would be significantly altered in July 2015 per the expiration of the “1984

Agreement” between City Hall and the FAA.

In making its case, the two groups requested Bass and

Waxman to urge the Transportation Secretary to “close the SMO control tower and

cease expenditures of FAA funds on SMO.”

A second request: do not close airports or towers where

those facilities would benefit the local community.

“We in Santa Monica don’t need the jobs or the economic

stimulus of a local airport,” the letter stated. “We ask Secretary (Ray) LaHood

to recognize that the FAA has no significant role supporting the local economy

here, and to use FAA resources where they may provide a more positive and

noticeable economic impact.”

The third request urged the Transportation Secretary to

“recognize community sentiment” and “side with middle-class homeowners and

against an extremely small number of extremely rich people who are the primary

users of SMO.”

“There is no scheduled passenger service at SMO and all

travel from SMO is optional,” the request continued.

Lastly, both CASMAT and SPAA sought Bass and Waxman to

request LaHood “to recognize long-term trends and use FAA resources where they

have a lasting impact.”

The overall spirit of the letter: there is little

community support for SMO.

“Other airports are very much supported by the community;

SMO is not,” the letter stated. “We urge the FAA to leave open other FAA towers

and facilities in preference of SMO, where there is a long history of declining

flight operations and growing community opposition.”

Attached to the five-page letter were 12 pages of

exhibits, including relevant entries of the “1984 Agreement” and Resolution

6296. Also attached: an overhead map of SMO demonstrating how close some

residences were to the runway; a confidence rating of 2012 city council

candidates as to who was more likely to “bring about real change” at SMO.

Waxman represents Santa Monica in Washington, D.C.; Bass

is also a Member of Congress representing Culver City and portions of West Los

Angeles near SMO.

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