Most Santa Monica voters prefer to keep the Santa Monica Airport open, despite cries from next-door neighbors that planes are deafening and toxic, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association said Tuesday.
Ahead of the night's Santa Monica City Council meeting, when the future of the airport campus will be a major topic of discussion, the pilots association released a survey that counters the results of a questionnaire compiled by the airport's most vocal critics.
"We have found no indication that any group, organization or individual has ever undertaken any effort to find out, in a very qualitative and quantitative manner, what voters in the city—constituents of the city's elected officials—actually thought of the issues surrounding the airport," Bill Dunn, the association's Vice President of Airport Advocacy, wrote in a letter May 1 to the City Council.
In August 2011, the association conducted 40 minute telephone interviews with 400 adults in each of the city's three zip codes. More than half of the respondents had reportedly lived in the city for at least 25 years and were asked three questions, which included:
- What's the most important issue facing the city today—that is the issue you yourself are the most concerned about?
- Now let's think about Santa Monica City government. What's the most important issue that city government should be focusing on right now—that is, the top priority for government?
Most ranked the airport among their lowest concerns, below traffic congestion, growth and development, education and traffic and parking, the association found.
And, when asked whether the Santa Monica Airport should remain open, two-thirds of respondents said it should. "Even in zone 3, which includes the airport, 59 percent believe the airport should remain open," Dunn said.
The results do not jive with a survey conducted by a grassroots coalition called Community Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic. That questionnaire, distributed between November 2011 until March 2012, found that 50 percent of respondents want aircraft operations eliminated completely
"While some in the community have legitimate concerns regarding perations at the airport, rhetoric regarding closure... as an only option has created an environment... in which it is nearly impossible to have meanifgul dialogue," Dunn said.
City staffers have warned that efforts to close the facility would be long and costly, and indicated recently that the city wants to find middle ground.
CASMAT and other community-based groups and neighborhood associations, such as Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution, are calling on Santa Monica residents to swarm tonight's City Council meeting, which will focus on the results of the second phase of the city's so-called Airport Visioning Process.
The , when its current operational agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration expires. (The Federal Aviation Administration insists its control over the airport will continue after that date).
For a full-story on the results of the second phase, click .
"The No. 1 result from the Santa Monica City 'Phase II Visioning Process' [is] close Santa Monica Airport," CRAAP organizer Marty Rubin wrote in an email Tuesday morning. "Let's make sure [Santa Monica] City Council understands this. Pack the council chambers and the downstairs lobby!"