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Proposal Could Slash SMO Flight Ops by Nearly Half

Airport Commission proposes new law based on precedents here and in New York.

In an effort to quickly reduce noise and pollution from Santa Monica Airport, the Santa Monica Airport Commission has recommended the city enact a Flight Operations Reduction Rule that would slash the number of flights.

The proposed law would limit daily flights to 53 percent of those from the prior year. It would apply to all aircraft and be administered through a permit process.

The proposal is based in part on a 1998 case in which New York City successfully used its ownership powers at a heliport to reduce sightseeing flights by 47 percent, and to phase out weekend operations.

In the relatively short legal battle that followed, federal courts upheld the city's action. The suit was between the city and the helicopter company; the Federal Aviation Administration did not take part.

Santa Monica's shorthanded Airport Commission sent the proposed law to the City Council, despite a caution from the city attorney and the reluctance of Commissioner Stephen Mark.

Mark joined in the 3-0 vote, but said the city should concentrate on measures to severely modify or shut down Santa Monica Airport's aviation operations in 2015, . (The FAA says more recent pacts extend that agreement to 2023).

But Vice-Chair David Goddard said the council and staff have indicated they're open to "measured and reasonable" steps that can be taken before 2015 to mitigate the airport's negative impacts. He contends FORR fits that definition.

Specifically, Goddard believes FORR would address noise, pollution and safety concerns over repetitious pattern flying by Santa Monica Airport's six flight schools. Recently, the City Council, after taking off from Santa Monica.

The city attorney and planning director, in a recent memo, agreed the city may be able to use its proprietary rights in trying to soften the airport's negative effects sooner than 2015. But they said the New York case "is of limited utility to Santa Monica" because New York had no contractual obligation to the FAA and Santa Monica does—at least to 2015.

Goddard, however, said the FAA's anticipated disapproval could be argued in court on the same constitutional grounds that brought victory to New York. In addition, he said, federal courts have upheld Santa Monica Airport's curfews, bans on helicopter training and touch-and-go operations, and noise limits, based on its proprietary powers.

With the airport's "visioning process" now in Phase 3—the final phase—city staffers presented an update to the commission Monday night. It listed goals such as installing electric power units to replace emission-producing diesel-fueled auxiliary power units; developing a strategy for providing non-leaded fuel; reducing idling time; and improving blast walls. In addition, staff plans two more public workshops concurrent with future Airport Commission meetings.

Vice-Chair Goddard responded by expressing concern over spending money for new power units and blast walls at this point.

"With all respect," he said, "staff has not been advocating the position of the community. [Staff] recommendations in Phase 3 represent the pilots' talking points, which represent 20 percent of the people attending the [Phase 2] workshops.''

"We need, as a body, to make recommendations based on what the community's desires are, regardless of what staff says at this point," he continued.

natalie mcadams July 31, 2012 at 09:26 PM
You guys are ridiculous. In the first, place search the records and you will find that we have lived here for quite a while. In the second place, I drive a hybrid. But most importantly, all this inability to address the issues. Your argument goes like this, there are things that pollute therefore we should all just suffer and not try to redress any of the toxins or environmental damage. If you want to sit on your butt and inhale, good for you. SMO is a toxic waste site far beyond any of the other sources that you cite. Studies were done while SMO was shut and while it was open which would make the freeways neutral and the toxins were FAR higher when SMO was operating. You can see and smell the pollution so again, you can choose to sit by and suffer. I choose not to and by the wind of the politics, neither do the cities of Santa Monica, Venice and Los Angeles so get ready for a fight. Oh right I forgot you don't know how to address the merits, so in your case, get ready to do more mud slinging.
natalie mcadams July 31, 2012 at 09:32 PM
By the way, of course property values would increase if the toxic dump that is SMO were gone. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure that out but that is certainly not a reason for people to continue to suffer and be polluted. If you want SMO to stay, why don't you put your efforts towards figuring out how to reduce holding times for the jets, thereby the pollution. Or limiting the hours at the airport. Or getting rid of the flight schools. Or getting rid of the jet centers so that there is no refueling at SMO. etc etc etc
Bart July 31, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Natalie, I guess you weren't around the last time Santa Monica tried to erect a traffic-choking, high-rise monstrosity on airport land. We stopped that, and we'll stop efforts to close the treasure that is Santa Monica Airport--as we have done repeatedly for many years. As for airport operations, jets typically don't start their engines until they receive an ATC clearance; airport hours are already limited, and flight schools are the quietest and least polluting of all commercial operations at the airport. As for pollution and noise, city buses and freeway traffic produce more than the airport. Hybrids pollute, just in different ways than conventional automobiles, as if you didn't know. As for your vehement opposition itself, do you wish to close down all of the nation's general aviation airports or just the one in your neighborhood?
natalie mcadams August 01, 2012 at 03:58 AM
Any airport with jets idling for 20 - 25 minutes with houses less than 100 feet way should be shut down. If you think that the flight schools are quiet you are sorely mistaken. Ask anyone who lives in Venice or the Ocean Park. Children live in the neighborhoods adjacent to the airport. The jets produce ultrafine particles which carry pollutants with them and enter their bloodstream. The full extent of the damage is not known. "In a paper published in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, the team ..., describe how they collected samples of exhaust from an idling KC-135 military cargo plane, into large Teflon coated bags, and how they then exposed that exhaust to sunlight and/or UV light to initiate photo-oxidation (when a polymer surface degrades in oxygen or ozone). The result, they say, was that the original droplets of oil were converted into multiple minute solid particles, small enough to penetrate the lungs and brain of people working or living near airports. ....The paper highlights the fact that airplane pollution, and specifically the kind produced at airports, is in stark contrast to other types of pollution emitters such as cars and manufacturing plants, in that little to nothing has been done to reduce the amounts spewed into the environment. It also shows that the type of pollution produced at airports is far more hazardous than was previously thought.." And you are the jerk who thinks its more important for you to partake in your hobby than for kids to be safe.
Tom Stuetzer August 01, 2012 at 03:01 PM
So Natalie...You have "lived here for quite awhile". Unless you moved here in 1916 I suspect the fact there was an airport nearby didn't escape your attention. You bought anyway. Why????
Bart August 01, 2012 at 03:24 PM
It's not a hobby, Natalie. I'm a commercial pilot and certified flight instructor. You didn't answer the question: Do you want to close down all of general aviation, or just the airport you choose to move in next to? By the way, I raised two healthy children in my airport-adjacent home. Both are now in college without brain damage. Others--now adults--raised in our neighborhood, similarly escaped damage.
Richard B August 01, 2012 at 03:32 PM
I see the Pilots have been bombarding this thread scared that their air planes will be banned from the airport- it is so obvious ! they come up with any excuse to protect their rich boy toy interests. The fact is the residents that Live near by do not want the airport any more- it has grown too big and is not a good neighbor. The pollution and noise are detrimental to all people and children. This cowboy pilots again have nothing better to do with their time than take over this forum with their same old tired reasons the airport should stay. The reality is the people that actually live here do not want the airport and it is a health hazard as well as a money loser. Spin it any way you want boys. The airport should close in 2015.
Richard B August 01, 2012 at 03:41 PM
To all you so pilots who come here and spew you BS and mean retorts. We don't need to be experts in aviation ! We are living it ! This has nothing to do with when someone bought a home or if it is near the airport, it has to do with commone sense and health. The airport is a health hazard to many people in Venice, Mar Vista, West LA not just SM. The locals have spoken up very loudly and want the airport closed. Take your mean comments to your pilots web site and spew your venom over there. Time for a change: for fresh air and peace and quiet.
Richard B August 01, 2012 at 03:45 PM
Also I have spoke with the head of the FAA and he feels the airport needs to close in 2015.
Tom Stuetzer August 01, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Dick B: You "spoke to the head of the FAA...." Wow, now that is impressive. I am guessing you couldn't tell us his name. Or exactly when you spoke to him. Why would the FAA want to close an airport? For every airport that closes, for every airplane or pilot that can't fly, the FAA has less of a reason to exist. I don't know about you Dick, but I sure wouldn't try to legislate myself out of a job. The FAA guys don't want to as well.
natalie mcadams August 01, 2012 at 04:35 PM
I did answer the question in the very first sentence of my response. Any airport with such close proximity to homes should be closed, especially if it has jets that hold on the runway for up to 25 minutes spewing toxins into adjacent homes. I don't know of another similarly situated airport but I know that there are other airports such as the one in Sedona that are causing lots of problems for the neighbors and the environment and those too should probably be looked at. I am glad your children are healthy but since it causes incremental brain damage, you might just not have realized the health hazards and the effect would be difficult to measure.
Bart August 01, 2012 at 05:01 PM
There is no current "head" of the FAA. Michael P. Huerta is acting administrator. Your comments illustrate a complete misunderstanding of the crucial role that general aviation has as a part of our transportation infrastructure. And I don't think you're "living" aviation. The "locals" who speak loudly are a tiny ignorant and selfish minority. I am a "local" who probably has lived longer in the area than most of the complainers.
Bart August 01, 2012 at 05:03 PM
"Any airport with such close proximity to homes. . ." That would be almost all of them.
Martin Rubin August 01, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Please name one.
natalie mcadams August 01, 2012 at 07:16 PM
Because its a great neighborhood and at the time, we didn't have kids. When we remodeled our home a few years back concurrently with having our first child we opened it up to enjoy the California weather and it soon became apparent how awful the fumes were. So we starting investigating and learned more about their toxicity and how dangerous it is to human health. So now we are actively lobbying for change. By the way, if you want to go back to the footprint and activity at the airport in 1916, I am all for that. Where to you live Tom?
Tom Stuetzer August 01, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Natalie: "It was a great neighborhood....". The airport was there then, it is there now. What has changed? Come on, give me a break. You are operating under the premise that the "squeaky wheel gets the grease". The "grease" in this case is the hoped for property value increase if you can get rid of that damned ol' airport. I live in San Diego, very close to an airport that houses 1000 aircraft. I have noticed no "toxic fumes". The price was right because it is close to an airport. Your price was right because it was close to an airport. I can promise you we will never agree so this is my last missive on the subject.
natalie mcadams August 01, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Tom, we can agree to disagree about the dangers of living near the airport but you don't get a voice in my motives. I want to stay in my home. I didn't buy it with the idea of becoming an activist to get rid of the airport. I did it to protect my kids, my family and my neighbors. I lived in San Diego for a long time and the airport is more than 100' from homes. Glad you are done b/c I love having the last word.
Bart August 02, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Name one that is not.
Bart August 02, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Let me get this straight: Natalie says she bought a home near the airport "to protect my kids, my family and my neighbors." Odd way to protect kids, moving into a toxic dump area. Best way to protect kids would be to move out of the "toxic" area. Natalie, it's possible that some of your neighbors don't want to be protected. This one--me--surely does not. And I certainly do not want my neighborhood spoiled by some atrocity that the city of Santa Monica would erect in the place of airport parkland. Nor do I need to be protected from meat sold at Trader Joe's. If you don't like the fare there, shop elsewhere and keep your food fetishes to yourself. Sounds like you have too much time on your hands.
natalie mcadams August 02, 2012 at 01:04 AM
I knew that you wouldn't keep your word and have the last comment be your last. It undermines all else you have said but most of it wasn't credible anyway. Do you think the others on this site can't read for themselves. Your mis-paraphrasing of my answers is just another example of your dishonesty. And your vitrole will help others to immediately classify you amongst those who aren't to be taken seriously. Those who are truly interested in debating the subject don't feel the need to mudsling. I notice you still haven't once addressed the merits of the subject of the toxicity of the jet exhaust and the jet fuel. Oh right, you probably haven't done any investigation and if you had, you would just be lying about the findings anyway.
Bart August 02, 2012 at 03:28 AM
I'm not interested in debating, just clarifying the issues. Read your own post. I didn't misquote you, though some lawyers are not very good at at English composition. As for the "toxicity," The EPA says there are no unsafe levels of toxins or in the air or soil around the airport. You seem insensitive to those who earn a living in aviation, wishing to send them and their families to the poorhouse. Shame on you! And I didn't say my last comment would be my last.
Tom Stuetzer August 02, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Natalie: Whomever you are responding to, it wasn't me. However, since I sent this, I guess you are right, I did comment again. Oh well.
an interested observer August 02, 2012 at 04:05 PM
No, you haven't. quit making up stories.
natalie mcadams August 02, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Are you really trying to make the argument that you can't make a living flying unless you are flying at SMO? If that is the case, I do feel sorry for you b/c that airport is closing in 2015. And if your make a living at the expense of others' health then I do feel that you are the one who has to change. The posts are cummulative, read the ones that come before and the discussion thread with Tom and you will see that the conversation was about why I had become an activist with regard to shutting specifically SMO down.
Bart August 02, 2012 at 09:45 PM
I did review earlier posts. From Oscar Goodman, 7/27: "Two studies, conducted by both the city and the AOPA, found that a majority of Santa Monicans SUPPORT the airport. So if we're to do what the community wants, then we keep the airport open and move on to the real issues facing Santa Monica. Anyone who continues to spew misinformation at this point is just lying for personal profit." From Santa Monica newcomer and unemployed lawyer Natalie Mcadams, 7/27: "Crashes aside, the city should prepare itself for the cost of mass toxic tort litigation." From James C, 7/27: "You do realize that more toxic fumes come out of the vehicle traffic surrounding Santa Monica, right?" Natalie Mcadams, 7/30: "if SMO or the houses were here first (pretty much simultaneously by the way), whether we are talking about the flight schools or the jets, SMO HAS TO GO. All these other arguments designed to shift the focus from the overwhelming evidence of the toxicity of leaded fuel and jet exhausts are smoke and mirrors." Bart, today: No, Natalie. The airport as existed since 1917. The houses, yours included, came many years later, and some were bought by modern-day Luddites who for years have sought to destroy U.S. transportation infrastructure to support misguided beliefs and for selfish personal gain.
Bart August 02, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Natalie, lots of people earn their livings in general aviation, which is only a part of the larger aviation and transportation industry. Airline pilots and other professionals get their starts in general aviation. Some go back and forth as job opportunities change. It's an equal opportunity field in which anyone with reasonable intelligence and physical dexterity can succeed. Sex, race and ethnic background don't count. However, at nearly every airport in the nation, there is a small band of ignorant neighbors who seek to shut that airport down. They are almost always newcomers who complain about the same things you cite. So Santa Monica is not unique. The FAA has stated that the airport will not close in 2015. Neither I nor any other pilot will "change" regardless of how you "do feel."
Bart August 03, 2012 at 04:10 AM
If you can't spell "airplane," you've never seen "cowboy pilots." And we "cowboys" are not scared.
Bart August 03, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Just leave. You're an insult to intelligence. Want clean air? Move offshore.
Jenna Chandler (Editor) August 03, 2012 at 04:41 AM
If this comment board starts be used solely for spats between a small number of readers, I will shut off comments. Don't make me do it!
Mike E. August 25, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Sooner or later developers are going to get their hands on our airport and we'll all wish the airport was back. Developers would use mixed use to pack as many people and shoppers into the area as possible which translates to many thousands of new car trips a day in an area where bumper to bumper traffic is already routine. There's also another use for the airport no one seems to care about. When the Big One comes, there will be no way in or out of Santa Monica except by sea. PCH will be closed by landslides, the 405 and highways north will be closed by collapsed overpasses, exiting to the south would take you through 100 miles of urban development, exiting to the east, even if the highways are intact would take you through 75 miles of congestion. Medical supplies, food, and water could be brought in through SMO and injuries that our overburdened hospitals couldn't take care of could be evacuated through SMO. Personally I don't have a dog in this race, other than the two points I mentioned. I've lived in Santa Monica 36 years, I'm not a neighbor of the airport, and I'm not a pilot. I agree with those who point out if you're concerned about an airplane crashing into your house, don't buy a house next to an airport. In fact don't buy a house anywhere because where you find houses, you'll also find aircraft and helicopters overhead and in very rare instances they do fall out of the sky. The day SMO closes is the day the developers arrive.

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