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Airport Commission Asks Council for Stronger 'Visioning' Process

Considering the process flawed, the commission asks for specific research on possible closure or flight reduction, with improved information flow to the public.

The Airport Commission is asking the City Council to strengthen Phase 3 of the nearly two-year-old process of envisioning Santa Monica Airport’s future and a renewal of the effort to make it more transparent.  

Commissioners say the three elements of a key Phase 3 goal—transparency, communication and trust—are still absent. The problem, the commission believes, is the lack of information on whether the city is considering curtailing or closing the facility’s air operations in mid-2015.

Commission members have repeatedly called the visioning process flawed, contending city staffers have concentrated on projects such as a voluntary "fly friendly" program to make SMO "a better neighbor," in the words of staff reports.

The lengthy motion, which passed unanimously, asks the council to have staffers examine rules and obligations regarding flight schools, fuel sales and aircraft tie-down spaces. It also asks for a survey of other general aviation airports similar to SMO, to see how they handle such sales and services.

Further, the motion asks for a survey of buildings leased to current aviation-related businesses (fixed-base operators) to determine their condition, and whether each structure’s current use is maximized—that is, whether the city could find a more lucrative use for the buildings when the current tenants’ leases expire in 2015.

In addition, the motion asks that the staff analyze how all aviation-related operations might be handled after the 1984 Operating Agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration expires in mid-2015.

The FAA contends the actual expiration date is 2023 and that other agreements obligate Santa Monica to operate an airport on the 227-acre property "in perpetuity."

The commission underscored its effort to get the City Council’s ear by taking the unusual step of creating an ad hoc committee of two commissioners to formally present the motion to the council.

Ivan Campbell, of the City Attorney’s office, told the commission that staffers already have compiled information on some categories—flight schools, aircraft tie-down policy and fuel sales—which is available to the commission upon request.

Deputy Public Works Director Susan Cline said staffers have never said closure of SMO is off the table, but repeated what she’s told the commission before—that staffers are exploring the "middle ground" of possibilities for SMO’s future, leaving aside both the status quo and the possibility of closure, for now.

That brought a response from Commissioner Stephen Mark.

"It sounds like a lot of `middle ground’ is off the table, too,’" Mark said.

"Short of closure, there are a lot of things that have been brought up [by the commission]," he added, "and recommendations… from us have been ignored by the City Council, and I suspect probably on the advice of legal counsel [the City Attorney]."

Mark suggested the commission may want to consider doing its own studies, using outside sources. However, Commission Chair David Goddard already has studied a number of cases centering on cities that were able to reduce flight operations at their airports by using "proprietary rights." His request that the City Attorney’s office examine those cases and recommend similar action to the City Council has gone unanswered.

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nerio festa December 13, 2012 at 07:15 PM
I feel very strongly about this: NIMBY people should be put on a No-Fly List. Whomever opposes the presence of an Airprot such as SMO, should not benefit from aviation at all. Take the bus to visit your family in Chicago, and we will mark your roof with an X, so that in case of fire the airtanks will skip it. I am from another country where General Aviation has nearly being killed by the "non flying" public... they still benefit from Airlines though...Where the f... do they think pilots train?
Dan Charney December 13, 2012 at 09:40 PM
If one forms- let me know- I would love to join- and Pilot Dave's idea is funny- considering how insane it would make people- but still- can you imagine the reaction?
GSGETSIT December 14, 2012 at 12:32 AM
Santa Monica Airport. What are the positives and negatives of this asset? What value is the airport to the city of Santa Monica and the surrounding environs? Can a multi use project involving business, light manufacturing, and education along with landing capability for smaller aircraft be established? Some of the businesses would involve technology related products and services, some restaurants, manufacturing and research in communications, computer related products, science, health, and education. Now let’s put on our creativity hats and come up with some new strategies to enhance the Santa Monica airport location. **********************gaptidbits@yahoo.com**********************
an interested observer December 14, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Great ideas. All those wonderful ideas will bring additional traffic to the area. We do need more traffic.
Dan Charney December 14, 2012 at 12:59 AM
That is basically what is there now-
Pilot Dave December 14, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Gordon, Santa Monica Airport has many benefits. First and foremost it provides jobs for thousands of people, myself included. The airport is a vital part of our nation's infrastructure. The airport is an "economic multiplier" that provides billions of dollars to all of west la. In an emergency you will be glad it's there. A small group of vocal airport neighbors want to shut down the airport because they think the value of their homes will increase. They all moved into the neighborhood long after the airport and it's jets were there. Oddly, they usually disagree on why exactly the airport should be closed. Some say it's too loud (it's quieter than a normal residential street). Some say the airport pollutes (there have been many studies which show it does not) and others are worried about safety (nobody on the ground has even been injured in an accident). Comically the chief airport opponent Martin Rubin and his CRAPPY website thinks limos driving to and from the airport clog up city streets. Obviously this is nonsense! The airport has at least three restaurants on it's grounds as well as a museum, light industrial, parks, hi-tech companies, community meeting places and schools and all of the other things you proposed. The "visioning" process should not be solely focused on limiting SMO, I can in-vision a larger airport which will provide greater value to the community. It is my dream that one day SMO will be able to accommodate antonov 225 cargo plane!
jose jimenez December 14, 2012 at 06:15 AM
If the airport is closed - the developers and pro-development city council will be in heaven putting a walmart, expanded SMC campus, and golden gate style park for homeless camping
Pilot Dave December 14, 2012 at 07:49 PM
Jose, I think you may be on to something. The crazy airport neighbors think they will close Santa Monica Airport and there will be some sort of large park put in it's place. First of all the city does not have the money to create such a park. Most likely they will fill the lot with high density housing. Just think what that will do for traffic! I think we all can agree that would be a step backwards. It's time to stop thinking of a smaller airport and time to start thinking of a larger airport. Let's bulldoze the houses of the whiny neighbors and increase the length of SMO. Some people want a subway to the sea. I say let's build a tarmac to the sea! How awesome would that be?
Dan Charney December 14, 2012 at 09:05 PM
Pilot Dave- great idea - except - let's divert it to Manhattan Beach- and take the hundreds of thousands of people down there instead- hey with the 6.4 quake off the sea here just now- this may all be a non issue soon- as for a park for the homeless- they are going to get rid of them- after all - can't attack those tourists and vanilla texting Silicon Beach- ites with those pesky ones around-
Charles December 16, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Wow how the pilots weave a story about closing the airport, let's see: "A small group of vocal airport neighbors want to shut down the airport because they think the value of their homes will increase." 1.The research studies show that it is the vast majority of neighbors all surrounding the airport and they are not a small group. [http://www.casmat.org/2012/04/analysis-of-casmat-visioning-survey.html] They all moved into the neighborhood long after the airport and it's jets were there. Oddly, they usually disagree on why exactly the airport should be closed. Some say it's too loud (it's quieter than a normal residential street). Some say the airport pollutes (there have been many studies which show it does not) and others are worried about safety (nobody on the ground has even been injured in an accident).
Charles December 16, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Wow how the pilots weave a story: "A small group of vocal airport neighbors want to shut down the airport because they think the value of their homes will increase." Those who want to close the airport are not a small group of neighbors. http://www.casmat.org/2012/04/analysis-of-casmat-visioning-survey.html I highly doubt that house income value would increase at any significant amount, since the values of the homes are already at the least just under 1 million. "They all moved into the neighborhood long after the airport and its jets were there." Jet usage has increased exponentially and at least 70% of my neighbors were here before 1995 when the increase started to begin. "Oddly, they usually disagree on why exactly the airport should be closed." Actually we agree that all the reasons you give are valid. "Some say it's too loud (it's quieter than a normal residential street)." If normal residential streets have jets flying over it at 95 decibels. "Some say the airport pollutes (there have been many studies which show it does not)" I guess multiple independent reviewers don't count: www.hiaguide.org/sites/default/files/SM_Airport_Health_Impact_Assessment.pdf http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19924920 "...others are worried about safety (nobody on the ground has even been injured in an accident)." With multiple SMO related plane crashes in recent years, with densely populated neighborhoods and schools along the flight paths, it is only a matter of time.
Charles December 16, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Suggestions from the UCLA Medical Center's independent study of SMO and its surrounding communities [www.hiaguide.org/sites/default/files /SM_Airport_Health_Impact_Assessment.pdf]: "1. Eliminate or significantly decrease the number of jet takeoffs to reduce exposure to both the byproducts of jet fuel exhaust and the loud “single event” noise of jet takeoff. "2. Install HEPA (high efficiency particulate absorbing) filters in surrounding schools and residential homes to mitigate the exposure to PAHs and particulate air pollution. "3. Enforce Federal Aviation Airport noise thresholds by implementing additional noise abatement strategies such as soundproofing of schools and significantly affected homes near SMO that would protect residents from hearing loss, psychological distress, and learning problems in children. "4. Adopt the precautionary principle, given the evidence of the potential harm of UFPs [ultrafine particles] and other byproducts of airport pollution on animal and human health. "5. Notify all potential property buyers, residents, and affected community members in the vicinity of SMO of the noise and air pollution health risks. "6. Maintain a runway buffer zone of at least 660 meters to protect surrounding residents from the harmful health effects of jet fuel exhaust byproducts during idling and take-off. "7. Closure of SMO would eliminate all health risks associated with airport air and noise pollution."
Charles December 16, 2012 at 02:39 AM
Suggestions from the UCLA Medical Center's independent study of SMO and its surrounding communities [www.hiaguide.org/sites/default/files/SM_Airport_Health_Impact_Assessment.pdf]: "1. Eliminate or significantly decrease the number of jet takeoffs to reduce exposure to both the byproducts of jet fuel exhaust and the loud “single event” noise of jet takeoff. "2. Install HEPA (high efficiency particulate absorbing) filters in surrounding schools and residential homes to mitigate the exposure to PAHs and particulate air pollution. "3. Enforce Federal Aviation Airport noise thresholds by implementing additional noise abatement strategies such as soundproofing of schools and significantly affected homes near SMO that would protect residents from hearing loss, psychological distress, and learning problems in children. "4. Adopt the precautionary principle, given the evidence of the potential harm of UFPs [ultrafine particles] and other byproducts of airport pollution on animal and human health. "5. Notify all potential property buyers, residents, and affected community members in the vicinity of SMO of the noise and air pollution health risks. "6. Maintain a runway buffer zone of at least 660 meters to protect surrounding residents from the harmful health effects of jet fuel exhaust byproducts during idling and take-off. "7. Closure of SMO would eliminate all health risks associated with airport air and noise pollution."
natalie mcadams December 16, 2012 at 05:01 AM
Pilot Dave, you clearly are interested only in keeping your job. It is not a small group of vocal neighbors. It is a LARGE group and growing exponentially. And these neighbors live in Santa Monica, Venice and West Los Angeles. You flippantly say that we can't agree on the issue. Untrue. The noise is a big problem but primarily to those in Ocean Park and in Venice. The jet exhaust pollution, which is well documented and you know it (please refer to any contrary studies as I would be very relieved to read them if they were by a reputable source), primarily affects those of us in West LA and especially North Westdale. And the lead pollution caused by the prop planes affects everyone. I am so tired of your weak arguments that getting rid of the toxic dump that is SMO will lead to over development and more traffic. Much of that land is deeded as a park, not subject to development for any other reason. Yes, I realize it is baffling how an airport can be classified as a park, yet it is. And when the city quits subsidizing the airport and gets some clean but successful businesses in it's stead, it will have plenty of money to spend developing the rest as park land. Why don't you open an airport in your neighborhood instead?
nerio festa December 16, 2012 at 07:33 AM
Natalie and Charles please be coherent and never set foot on an airplane ever again. And yes, great idea, let's put parks in place of airports and let's see what happens... General Aviation is an asset, not an enemy.
nerio festa December 16, 2012 at 07:35 AM
and the question to ask here is why did you put a residential neighborhood so close to an existing airport? ( greed? speculation? short sightedness? all of the above?)
Glenn E Grab December 16, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Charles, using your logic, the first airport that should be closed is LAX...it must kill thousands per year through air pollution alone..we actually should be wearing our own private HEPA filters..if I were you, I'd be suing the family of the Wright brothers,they started this mess...
Glenn E Grab December 16, 2012 at 03:58 PM
yeah, a runway to the sea, that'd stop the worry about plane crashes.....
Pilot Dave December 16, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Natalie, I am interested in keeping my job and the thousands of other jobs at Santa Monica Airport. I also want to preserve our nation's infrastructure and not let a small group of whiny liberals take away my family's livelihood. I can't build an airport in my neighborhood cause one was built a long time before I arrived. This airport is a great airport with a nice community. It was a bomber factory during world war II and had its first jet operations in the early 60s. Long before I arrived...... Yes the airport my "neighborhood" is Santa Monica Airport! Now Natielie, I understand you want to take away my livelihood and make my family suffer. You and your liberal commy friends act as nothing but a tool for big developers. It is a shame you can't see that. A better solution would be for you to move to Pitcairn Island where no airport exists for thousands of miles! You would be very happy there. You may even find more free time in your life because there will be no airport, or other developments to complain about all day!
Pilot Dave December 16, 2012 at 10:04 PM
Charles, Your long and obnoxious post is full of lies and you know it. First of all this "casmat" study is not a real survey like the aopa did. It's just a bunch of whiny liberal neighbors with a website, small sample size and no scientific methodology or oversight. As for the noise. Give me a break. Leaf blowers, motorcycles, police cars are all 4.6 times louder than the loudest aircraft operating out of Santa Monica (currently 64 gilawatts). For the pollution. If you look at studies by California Institute of Air Quality, the Bureau of Air Management and the Geo-technical Institute of Haifa you will find that no pollution has been found at Santa Monica Airport. It's time freedom loving Americans stand up to this communist infiltration that is trying to take jobs away from our citizens, destroy our nation's infrastructure and act as an agent for rich fat cat developers.
Dan Charney December 17, 2012 at 07:04 AM
Hey - I am a liberal 'commie' and I love the airport and never want to see it go- I think the arguments against is are absurd and transparent- so don't beat up the fan base- it's the liberals that don't want the developers destroying this city- it's the materialists conservatives that only care about their freaking property- jeesh- and I thought we were becoming friends....
C.M. December 17, 2012 at 08:37 AM
You know, it's pretty sad to read over and over again basically the same comments made by each side. Instead of making false blanket statements about the neighbors surrounding the airport, you may want to get to know them first. Hang out in the neighborhood especially on busy airport days. Listen, breath in the air, talk to the neighbors... you will find that we are just working people that want a better community for everyone. We are not all liberal as you may think nor are we looking to increase the value of our homes by closing an airport. Please stop assuming things and making statements that are completely untrue. My family has a history here in the neighborhood in N. Westdale since the early 70's (there are four homes on our block that are family members). All four of the homes (my family) were purchased by hard-working immigrants that learned English, got jobs, and purchased homes in an area that they thought would be a good community to grow old in. So please, be considerate and kind.
Glenn E Grab December 17, 2012 at 05:00 PM
cm, you sound like a reasonable person........you bought the house in the 1970s.....the airport has been here since the 1920s, it's a FAA chartered Municipal Airport....you knew this when you bought the house, you couldn't have expected the airport just to go away.....any more than the people who live in the flight path of LAX would....it's like buying a house next door to a fire station and complaining about the sirens...
Pilot Dave December 17, 2012 at 07:56 PM
C.M., Maybe you should hang out at Santa Monica Airport. Maybe hang out with the workers who have jobs and provide for their families there. See the lives you and your "kind" friends are trying to destroy by reducing operations or closing Santa Monica Airport, just because you and 4 other family members decided to move next to an airport in the 70's only 50 years after the airport opened! Just remember it wasn't the airport supporters that went around throwing roofing nails in neighbor's parking lots. It was the reverse. Imagine if there was a plane crash or car crash due to these almost terrorist like nail throwing tactics. It doesn't seem you folks are being so "kind".
Pilot Dave December 17, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Dan, Or should I say Comrade Dan. I don't have a thing against communists. Or even liberals. I just don't like the liberal communists who are trying to close the airport!
Dan Charney December 17, 2012 at 09:35 PM
I have spent a lot of time there- and find it to be a wonderful place- in many ways- from watching the groups playing games to going to the dog park with friends- I used to know a few guys who had their planes there and we'd fly out of there often to Catalina or Santa Barbara for the day- there was never a line up to take off- never a lot of noise- and it's been there forever- way before you bought your houses- they should have appreciated ten times by now- isn't that enough? Do you have any idea how noisy and miserable and how much exhaust will be produced if they build a huge condo and business park there adding thousands of car trips per day? It will be miserable.
Glenn E Grab December 18, 2012 at 04:27 PM
charles...".learning problems in children" caused by the airport?.....the airport is to blame for stupid, lazy kids?....
Dan Charney December 18, 2012 at 09:28 PM
With all due respect Pilot Dave- we are not the group wanting to close the airport- it's the developers, home owners who want their property values to go up ( how hundreds of condos would do that I fail to understand ), and a bought city council among others- using a lot of paid for and lame studies and arguments to support yet another mindless development- we liberals are NOT DOING THAT- we want the airport-- please- don't fail me now
Pilot Dave December 18, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Dan, I accept your position. From now on I will try to use the terms "Nimby", "Whiny" "Illogical" and "Short Sighted" instead of the terms "communist" or "liberal". I may still refer to Martin Rubin as Comrade Rubin, and Natalie McAdams as Comrade McAdams, but that's only out of love. And Dan, you can be "Comrade Dan" if you like ;)
Dan Charney December 19, 2012 at 12:40 AM
NO - Natalie and the other one are against the airport-- I am for it- so they not Comrade if I am - Call me Fly Dan- that is more like me

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