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Council Shows Support for Unpopular Airport Incentives

Proposal to spend $90,000 in taxpayer money on incentive program designed to reduce noise at the airport gets support from the Santa Monica City Council, but there's not a quorum to approve it.

Before realizing it didn't have the quorum it needed, the Santa Monica City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday to pay Santa Monica-based flight schools "to go away for a while."

A decision on the unpopular proposal to pay the businesses to was postponed immediately after the vote, when the council members learned they needed at least five "yeses" to approve the funding.

Councilmen Richard Bloom and Bobby Shriver were absent from the meeting.

"It's unfortunate that it's going to cost us money... [but] we're paying this money to improve the skies over Santa Monica, Mar Vista and Venice," said councilwoman Gleam Davis.

Davis said the proposal—which would be rolled out on a six-month temporary basis—would be an efficient and immediate way to reduce aircraft noise.

The flight schools account for 40 percent of traffic at the Santa Monica Airport and neighbors have lobbied the council for years to find a way to quell the noise.

But the proposal has been criticized by residents who say the city shouldn't be paying the flight schools. Councilman Kevin McKeown called their dissent ironic, and councilman Bob Holbrook agreed.

Holbrook cast the dissenting vote. He said he had not heard from a single person who liked the proposal.

"If the public that is befitting from it doesn’t want it... I'm not going to support this," Holbrook said. "It's really peculiar people really don't want us to do it."

Under the proposal, participating flight schools would receive $150 for each flight that resulted in a minimum of four takeoffs and four landings conducted at other airports on weekends and federal holidays. City staffers said it has the potential of resulting in up to 4,800 fewer takeoffs and landings.

City staffers have estimated the program would cost as much as $90,000 in six months.

A decision is now expected in July.

Charles June 27, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Let's look at how the $90,000 could be well spent and not last only 6 months ... In 1994, Mayor Richard M. Daley announced plans to close the airport and build a park in its place on Northerly Island. Northerly Island where the airport was located was owned by the Chicago Park District, which refused to renew the airport lease in 1996. In 2001, a compromise was reached between Chicago, the State of Illinois, and others to keep the airport open for the next twenty-five years. However, the federal legislation component of the deal did not pass the United States Senate. On March 31, 2003, Mayor Daley ordered private crews to destroy the runway in the middle of the night, bulldozing large X-shaped gouges into the runway surface. The required notice was not given to the Federal Aviation Administration or the owners of airplanes tied down at the field. Interest groups, led by the Friends of Meigs Field, attempted to use the courts to reopen Meigs Field over the following months, but because the airport was owned by the City of Chicago and had paid back its federal aviation grants, the courts ruled that Chicago was allowed to close the field. The FAA fined the city US$33,000 for closing an airport with a charted instrument approach without giving the required 30-day notice. Now that was $33,000 well spent. In the next few years let's use our money wisely and have someone in office as both bold and caring as Mayor Daley.
Jack June 27, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Becoming more and more obvious that our city staff is afraid of the big bad FAA.
Richard B June 28, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Time to step up SM City Council and use the money to fight the FAA. Times change, Judges change and we need to again go to court with the FAA. Use the money to change the bad language in the city mandate and change the 'Loophole" on taxi backs, use the money to close the airport like Meigs Filed did, use the money to hire another city attorney that will take on the FAA and win, use the money to bulldoze the place. There are so many other ways we could use the money to actually get some results. The week-ends and holidays are already written into the law. Perhaps the law could be enforced ? Again City Council is not doing anything about this important issue beside s some crazy band aide idea.
Richard B June 28, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Agree Charles...Who's afraid of the big bad FAA? Apparently Santa Monica City Council
Dr D A Hanson June 28, 2012 at 04:36 AM
This airport is a danger to the citizens of Santa Monica. The jets fly too low and over residential areas including schools. The din of planes flying overhead has steadilly increased over the past few years. There is a consensus in Santa Monica that this small airport SHOULD be closed ... the Council should listen to the persons who voted them into office.
Mitch Comestein June 28, 2012 at 05:43 AM
A danger to schools? Really? Playing that card here? Its like those knuckleheads who say pot should be legalized because it you can make rope from hemp....really? (Is that why you want it legalized?) Let's not dance around the topic. Those against the airport have buyer's remorse for purchasing a home near an airport. ( I bought a home that was slightly less costly because its near an airport and there is excessive noise? Who would've guessed?) Not trying to be harsh despite the comment...and trust me, I feel for you but the airport has been around since the 1920's...more than enough lead time to do some recon about noise levels before signing the mortgage.
Christopher Carrie June 28, 2012 at 10:47 AM
I spend a month each year vacationing at my brother’s house that is quite close to this airport? Last year one dimbo crashed onto the local golf course, the noise of engines is constant and a complete insult to a civilised way of life. I can assure you similar would not be tolerated in my leafy corner of Warwickshire England.
Concerned Resident June 28, 2012 at 06:47 PM
This is not an appropriate use of taxpayer money. SM city council should not be paying flight schools to go away or reduce flights. Even in Santa Monica public resources are tight. Find a legal way to require reduce flights, not thru bribery. Where does this idea end? As taxpayers do we start paying off all kinds of businesses or conduct that is legal but we don't like? An incredibly ill-advised idea!
Richard B June 29, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Mitch this has nothing to do with buyers remorse. I have loved here for 15 years and plan to die here. I just want a quiet and normal life. The increase in flight schools and increase in jets has made living here a nightmare. The airport is not the cute small airport anymore but now is more like little LAX. Huge jets now use the runway and the airport is way to close to many homes for these huge jets. One might feel like they were back in Nam with the loud jets and circling flight school planes. This is very stressfull and is affecting many residents not just in SM but Venice and Mar Vista and West LA- a large group of people. Close it in 2015 and build a park for ALL to enjoy.
Richard B June 29, 2012 at 12:26 AM
When will the loud commuter jets be stopped ? They now avoid LAX and use SMO as their private airport. Curious to know what studies were done regarding the flight schools and the days the fly. Mostly Monday thru Friday so why do they put i
Richard B June 29, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Santa Monica out laws loud leaf blowers but allows this noisy airport to still exist?
Richard B July 10, 2012 at 02:03 AM
ABUSE OF POWER from SM City Council. Time to sue the city and it's uncouth evil ways
Michael K September 26, 2012 at 02:39 PM
This is a straight-up stupid comment. When I bought my house in Ocean Park Neighborhood there weren't a half dozen flight schools engaged in touch and go operations at SMO. Why should Santa Monica support flight schools? Stupid, idiotic policy. Let flight schools move to unpopulated areas of the county. Or let's just stop civil aviation operations at small airports. I'm okay with that.

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