Monday, November 26, 2012 at approximately 7:30 PM, the third stage of Santa Monica's vision for the future of Santa Monica Airport (SMO) will be launched; approximately two years after the launch of the first stage.
The following is from the Santa Monica Public Works Department report to the Airport Commission (SMO is now part of the Public Works Department):
At the November 26, 2012 Airport Commission meeting there will be a Phase III Visioning workshop to discuss the status of work activities related to Council direction to staff at the May 8, 2012 meeting and obtain feedback from the Airport Commission and the community. The workshop is being conducted as part of the City's three phased visioning process that is a continuing effort to evaluate incremental improvements at the Santa Monica Airport campus to make the Airport a better neighbor.
Let's take a look back at how this visional process evolved.
Shortly after SM City Manager Rod Gould was hired in January 2010 to lead the City of Santa Monica, my wife Joan and I met with him in his rather plush office at City Hall to discuss our concerns and educate him regarding the airport's impacts on the surrounding communities. We specifically noted the critical public health concerns due to the toxic emissions from jet aircraft on the downwind Los Angeles communities, informing him about the several air quality related studies that were done and how the City has not done anything substantive to address these critical environmental concerns. Mr. Gould was sympathetic to our concerns. He told us that airports were not part of his experience as City Manager for previous jobs. He told us that he also needed to weigh the financial benefits of SMO to the City. I mentioned to him that we plan to launch a website that would focus on the future uses for SMO land after the July 1, 2015 termination date of the present agreement between SM and the Federal Aviation Administration. He said that he had plans to do something similar and that we might join their effort. After the meeting Joan and I were cautiously optimistic that SM would begin to show a real effort to address SMO's environmental and public health issues though we were somewhat taken back by his need to stress the economic interests of the airport.
At the December 14, 2010 SM City Council meeting, City Manager Gould presented his ideas for approval with an Executive Summary stating, "The future of the Airport is one of the most important land use decisions facing the City. Staff recommends a comprehensive process including creation of a vision for the future of the Airport, analysis of relevant concepts and their local applicability, as well as broad stakeholder engagement about the future of the Airport." On rereading this initial report it appears rather obvious that the City had no intentions to investigate possible non aviation uses for SMO, and even today the City avoids shedding light on the numerous negative aspects of the airport, but rather emphasizes and markets elements about the airport that might appeal to the public at large. The affected community has responded by pointing this out at every opportunity through public comment. This was highlighted as well in an October 2, 2011 Santa Monica Dispatch article, AIRPORT “VISIONING PROCESS” BIASED by Peggy Clifford. Unfortunately, Council has continued on their original course asking the community to trust them.
It is interesting to note that the process even started out on the wrong foot by referring to the plan as a "Visioning Process". Whether this was an intentional effort to be creative with the English language or just a careless mistake, it reflects on the quality of the effort to investigate such an important issue. As Peggy Clifford pointed out in her CITY SHOULD STOP ‘VISIONING,” START SEEING
March 19, 2012 Santa Monica Dispatch article; " “Vision” is not a verb, never has been, and, with a little luck, never will be, and “visioning” turns up far too frequently in City reports and documents – as non-word and bad idea."
At the launching of the third stage of Santa Monica's vision for the future of Santa Monica Airport on November Monday, November 26, 2012 the City has material they will present likely to make the communities blood boil (AGENDA). They use terms like, "model Green Airport". The only way they have a shot at that would be to replace all the aircraft with "model aircraft"; the type I assembled with glue as a child.
The City wants the community to trust them even though they have shown for more than two decades that they are not to be trusted.
On the other hand the community has shown that they are to be trusted for the most part, and it is more than past due for the City Council and the City Manager to understand this and begin a real and honest cooperative effort to address all the critical noise, safety, public health, air quality, and security concerns that have been screaming to be addressed for more than twenty years. No general aviation airport in the country has the unique problems that envelope SMO.
On December 11, 2012 two new City Council members, Ted Winterer and Tony Vazquez, will be sworn in. They are two that have been endorsed by Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution (CRAAP). We are optimistically hopeful that they will be the needed catalysts for progressive change.
I urge all who feel this issue is an important issue to get involved now. In two years there will be another opportunity to elect three members to City Council who will address our critical community concerns.
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