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
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
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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