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More Recommendations for Reducing Santa Monica Airport's Impact

Santa Monica's Airport Commission urges city to give notice on ending leases, and to bar a key part of airport land from aviation use in 2015.

Santa Monica's Airport Commission has sent the City Council five additional recommendations for action to lessen 's impact on surrounding residential areas.

One recommendation asks the city to serve notice that in 2015 the city will terminate existing leases and discontinue leasing space to aviation and industrial tenants "engaged in activities incompatible with neighboring land uses including the sale of aviation fuel and other hazardous materials."

That's the year the city says its agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration to operate the airport in its current configuration will expire. The FAA, however, contends the true expiration date is 2023, and that another agreement compels the city to operate the airport "in perpetuity."

Another recommendation, similar to one the commission sent the council earlier this year, calls for the removal from aviation use "as soon as practicable after July 1, 2015" one of three parcels comprising the current airport. It's the 18.6-acre "1949 Quitclaim Parcel" at the airport's west end that contains about 40 percent of the runway.

"These two recommendations are really critical to positioning the city to have more power to direct the future of the airport than any measures I've seen up to now," commissioner Stephen Mark said of the lease termination and parcel removal recommendations.

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The commission's other three recommendations Monday night included:

  • Having the city stop all non-essential aviation-related capital expenditures until the council determines the future of Santa Monica Airport.
  • Install runway safety areas at each end of the runway as soon as possible.
  • Make any future airport land use subject to a "no additional trip generation" policy, so current land use cannot be intensified.
  • The common theme in the five-item package was that the city, as owner of the airport land, has the right "to reduce the city's liability for nuisance and to enhance the community's human environment."

Commissioner David Goddard insists the actions are similar to past actions taken by the city and upheld by courts, such as the nighttime curfew and noise limits.

The recommendations passed unanimously despite some disagreement among the four commissioners on the practical effect of the capital expenditure and trip-generation items.

In a separate action, the commission asked the City Council to formally endorse a community group's request for the Southern California Air Quality Management District to review the airport's air quality, with an eye to imposing controls.

The initial request to SCAQMD came from Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution in a March 2012 letter. The group's attorney, Mitchell Tsai, says the request needs Santa Monica's support to be effective.

"Santa Monica Airport is too small for SCAQMD to study without [the city] saying it wants action, Tsai told the commission.

The council's endorsement could put the city in the position of asking that it be ordered to reduce SMO's emissions, possibly putting it at odds with both the FAA and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

But Tsai argues that SCAQMD, with approval from the California Air Resources Board, can regulate aircraft emissions under the Federal Clean Air Act.

Click here for more coverage of the Santa Monica Airport.

PB September 05, 2012 at 11:28 PM
As for the subsidy - I've read of this but I don't know how the City allocates costs? The FAA (paid for through fuel taxes on aircraft) pays for the control tower and staff. Runways and taxiway construction and maintenance are paid for by the FAA through the same fund. Internal improvements (tiedown areas, hangars, police, airport management staff) are paid for by the City. But there is income to offset these costs - fuel flowage fees and taxes and hangar and tiedown rents. - the bulk of the areas is roadway and open space with some hangars and buildings and is not difficult to police. The deficit figure that has been published (that I have seen in print) is $80,000, and that could be due to cost allocation so as to create a deficit. I can't accurately address this, although with the multitude of taxes and grants I find it incomprehensible that the airport is really run at a deficit. It is possible that the fuel taxes and flowage fees go into the general fund and not the airport fund, and that the airport really runs at a surplus? All I can judge by are other airports with lower taxes that run at a surplus, and I've often wondered why SMO is reported to have a deficit.
PB September 05, 2012 at 11:40 PM
I strongly disagree with your contention that it is a dangerous, dirty and obsolete use. If you compare aircraft movements and fatalities to automotive movements, the auto use is vastly more dangerous. Your replacing aircraft use with auto use will, consequently, increase the death rate from transportation. Dirty? Auto emissions are created everywhere - plane emissions are generated in a very small area, although a jet emits a lot. But the jet emissions are cleaner then in past years, and getting even cleaner. An airport is NOT a dirty use. Airport emissions are small when the large area is considered. Obsolete? Of course not. It is a valuable community transportation service and more airports are needed, not fewer. The elimination of jobs and taxes and having the open space of an airport replaced with 40 condos to the acre, movie theaters and high rise offices, with the street clogging traffic and emissions, will be missed by the citizens of the area.
Greg Fry September 06, 2012 at 01:38 AM
More misinformation: jet fuel consists of over A THOUSAND chemical components: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aviation_fuel Please respond honestly to evidence opposed to your perspective--thanks! I have ample evidence of the extremely toxic residue that exhaust from jet planes leaves in surrounding neighborhoods!
Greg Fry September 06, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Well, let's examine your further false claims: http://www.smgov.net/Departments/Airport/Commission_Meetings/2012/20120227/02-27-12_Commissioner_Goddard_Item_re_SMO_Budget_Eval.aspx Again: flight operations--as separate from any revenue accrued from the airport campus, and not in the least dependent on flight operations--are an albatross which cost Santa Monica residents in excess of $800,000 a year. Any other "rents" and "fees" incidental to flight operations (and not dependent on them) earn Santa Monica money. So: shut down money-losing flight operations, continue to realize revenue on non-flight-related operations, and further increase municipal revenue through actualizing space now occupied by this dirty and dangerous facility!
Greg Fry September 06, 2012 at 02:04 AM
"I strongly disagree with your contention that it is a dangerous, dirty and obsolete use." What part of unwarranted subsidies by Santa Monica residents from a limited and shrinking tax pool, plus the danger of ANY flight crashing into the homes, schools, businesses or other local property--not to mention pollution deposits as a result of EVERY flight--have to do with your false claim? Regardless of your attempts to misdirect our attention elsewhere, shutting down SMO--the plaything of an elite few--would have an immediate impact for the benefit of ALL residents in Santa Monica and the entire Westside!

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