If you want the closed, go tell Capitol Hill—not that there's been any luck there—the City Council told anti-airport activists Tuesday night.
"We begged for help, and here we are 14 years later, and we’re still asking for the same help," Councilman Robert Holbrook said, referring to a meeting he had with Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles) in 1998.
At a workshop to discuss the public's vision for the future of the airport, the City Council was emphatic: It does not have the authority to shut the campus, but federal lawmakers do. If the city were to try, it would invite years of litigation with the Federal Aviation Administration, with whom it shares jurisdiction over the airport.
"Get right up in her face," Councilman Bobby Shriver said in reference to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), who is scheduled to make stops locally while campaigning for reelection. He continued, "It’s just essential that Congressman Waxman knows [that if he doesn’t do something about the airport] "
Still, as if to say, "We're listening," the council asked staffers to work on defining the city's legal rights to close the airport if its more favored approach of curtailing aircraft activity doesn't pan out.
In the meantime, it will march forward with Phase 3 of the so-called Visioning Process. The multifacated third and final phase will include exploring the possibility of giving subsidies to flight schools—the biggest contributor of airport traffic—willing to relocate to other airports.
The council will also look into making a number of other improvements, such as a face-lift to the blast wall and more high-tech GPS navigation systems.
To address residents' complaints that aircrafts are polluting their neighborhood, the city will co-host a seminar about the future of leaded aviation gasoline on June 30 with the . It will partner with the Airport Cooperative Research Program and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a “Qualifying Aircraft Lead Emissions at Airports” study that will start this summer.
It will draft a proposal to reduce emissions with the addition of alternative fueling stations and will establish a team to lobby lawmakers for the elimination of low-lead, propeller plane fuel.
The city owns and operates the airport under an agreement it signed with the FAA in 1984. City officials believe the agreement expires in 2015, and some residents hope that will allow the city to take over the airport completely, severely curtail its operations or even shut it down. The FAA, however, is expected to argue that other agreements obligate the city to keep the airport running until roughly 2024.
About 40 residents from Santa Monica, Venice and Mar Vista attended Tuesday night's workshop, the conclusion of the second phase of the Visioning Process.
"We’re in a tough situation," councilman Holbrook said. "But the thing that hurts the most is people insinuating that we don’t care."