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Phase 2 of Airport 'Visioning' Moves Toward Big Finish

Public comment still sought as discussion groups end. An April Airport Commission workshop and the City Council's May 8 meeting will wrap up the public comment period.

The second phase of Santa Monica Airport's so-called visioning process will climax with a double-header: the Airport Commission's own visioning workshop April 23, and presentation of the final report on Phase 2 to the City Council on May 8.

The two-month series of community discussion groups at the heart of Phase 2 has ended, but the public's opportunity to weigh in on airport's future continues.

The , when its current operational agreement with the Federal Aviation Admistration expires. (The Federal Aviation Administration insists its control over the airport will continue after that date).

In addition to public comment sessions at both the commission and city council meeings, emailed comments can be sent to the Public Works Department's Susan Cline at susan.cline@smgov.net or to the city's general mailbox, smgov.net, or to the City Council, council@smgov.net.

Cline, who oversaw the community discussion groups, told the Airport Commission, an advisory board to the Santa Monica City Council, that 312 people participated in the 32 sessions. They were held at 11 sites on various weekdays (no Sundays or Mondays), including seven evening sessions.

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A summary of those discussions will form the core of the final report on Phase 2, available online after the May 8 council meeting. It will include an overview of airport issues and suggested improvements, grouped thematically, along with a narrative for each of the 32 discussion sessions.

Comments emailed to Cline or the city won't be part of the discussion group summary, but will be attached to the final report. Comments are invited whether or not the writer took part in a discussion group, but the emails should be sent by May 5, three days before the council gets the report.

City staffers hope comments will be based on the same topics addressed in the discussion groups: the airport's key issues; suggested improvements or options (including closure); and what the writer would like to see as part of the third phase, the final phase of the visioning project.

The City Council will use those comments, along with the discussion group material, staff recommendations and consultants' recommendations from Phase 1, to decide what Phase 3 of the Visioning Process will look like.

A citizen group, Community Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic conducted its own two-month survey online. Results were unsurprising, given the organization's stance.

"We found that 79 percent want the city to decrease or eliminate aircraft operations; 77 percent want the number of flight schools decreased or eliminated; and 86 percent want whatever steps are necessary to reduce or eliminate noise, safety and health risks," CASMAT representative John Fairweater told the commission Monday.

The survey also included an open-text question: "What would you like done with Santa Monica Airport?"

"We had nearly as many responses from outside Santa Monica as we did from within the city," Fairweather said, adding that CASMAT had publicized the survey through leaflet distribution in neighborhoods closest to the airport.

He suggested the survey results, shaped by more than one-thousand individuals who responded, also be attached to Phase 2's final report.

Fairweather alleged that when word of the survey spread through the aviation community, a surge of emails came in from across the U.S. and other countries, from Israel to Guatemala and Europe, some purporting to be local, but whose geo-code revealed their actual origin.

Separately, Richard Waner, who lives just east of the airports's runway, said his discussion group included three pilots. His group voted 12-1 to eliminate jets at the airport, and Waner said all three pilots voted with the majority. At least one discussion group had no pilots and voted unanimously to close the airport.

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JohnF March 29, 2012 at 03:40 PM
The CASMAT survey was 'advertised' primarily through flyer distributions in the neighborhoods surrounding SMO. As such its results are reflective of the wishes of those communities. Any 'stance' that CASMAT may have has no bearing on the results obtained from the public.
Brian R. Bland March 30, 2012 at 08:32 PM
John, a better choice of words than ``stance'' would've been a phrase such as ``the survey's approach.'' The story states where and how the survey was publicized: in the neighborhoods around SMO through the use leaflets at residences, which invited participation via the CASMAT Web site. There was no intent to imply the results were manipulated, but rather to underscore the method used to gather the data. Since at least the inception of the city's visioning process, there have really been two ongoing discussions regarding SMO. One is about SMO itself -- how many jets, how noisy are they, how many flight school operations, is there a cleaner fuel, etc. The other discussion is about the methods used to gather data regarding how people feel about SMO, and its future. That secondary (but important) discussion includes, for example, the way the city formed and conducted its focus groups; the way HR&A's study on SMO's effect on the economy was conducted; the way other consultants formed their lists of options for SMO; the format used to present SMO's annual budget; and the methods used by the aviation community to put forward a pro-airport position. The discussion now includes CASMAT's survey. Patch is trying to report on all of it. Thanks for posting your comment. Brian R. Bland

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