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Detested Plan to Divert Noisy Flights Ditched

City manager reacts to "fears and perceptions" about the proposal.

Santa Monica's unpopular—and expensive— is off the table, City Manager Rod Gould announced Tuesday night.

"Public fears and perceptions have escalated to the point that it is impossible to imagine that this test would be able to receive fair and objective evaluation," he told the Santa Monica City Council.

In response to longstanding complaints from Santa Monica and Venice residents about aircraft noise, the proposal was to pay flight schools based at the to divert repetitive takeoffs and landings by pilots-in-training to other municipal airports.

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 holidays during a six-month testing period. The total cost to Santa Monica taxpayers was to be about $90,000.

Gould called it a "creative response to community wishes."

"The experiment was intended to reduce patterned flying above and around Santa Monica and our neighboring cities and with little impact on surrounding airports," he told the City Council.

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But it was met with opposition from Santa Monica residents and neighboring communities.

Torrance Mayor Frank Scotto told the Daily Breeze that Santa Monica, in effect, was attempting to export its noise complaints.

"We're extremely displeased they are going down this path," he told the newspaper. "If there's an increase in traffic to Torrance Airport [as a result] we're going to figure out a way to restrict it," he said.

The process chafed residents and community leaders, too.

Martin Rubin, head of Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution, said it was ironic that Santa Monica City Manager Rod Gould said the proposal wouldn't get an impartial review. The City Council was ready to fast-track approval in early June by bundling it with other agenda items that would have been approved in a single vote.

"This whole fiasco started with [flight schools] and Santa Monica staff—without any vetting of the details in their effort to hastily and secretively get it through on their consent calendar," Rubin said.

The fact that the plan was tabled indefinitely at the last-minute Tuesday night upset leaders in Torrance, who were en route to Santa Monica to voice their objections. The proposal was on the night's agenda, and the council had previously indicated that it would vote to approve it.

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"After the Torrance City Council meeting, Councilmen [Tom] Brewer and [Cliff] Numark drove off the Santa Monica to attend the council meeting," John Bailey, president Southeast Torrance Homeowners’ Association, Inc. wrote in an email. "I sent out an email last night after the 'slick maneuver' which ended up on their cell phones so they turned back to Torrance."

Rubin said he was pleased that city officials opted to heed community concerns.

Richard B July 12, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Classic City Council move. You are right Ron Gould the "proposal NEVER received fair and objective evaluation," Because the City Council and City Staff NEVER followed the rules, asking the airport commission for input as well as the residents that live near by. They tried to just rubber stamp it, but the residents got wind of it and composed many emails with their views. This just shows the way the city works and it does not look good. The airport is a major concern and should be scrutinized not just rubber stamped by staff and council. Perhaps this is why we still have this out dated, dangerous and toxic dump still open.
an interested observer July 12, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Dick, You're stance is appreciated. I wish you'd bring your enthusiasm to the Worst Toxic Dump in SM. The notorious parking garages the city runs. They actually are more prone to releasing harmful Toxics on our citizens in the area than anything else in the city. Will you join in the effort to close them?
John Londono July 12, 2012 at 10:53 PM
I am so happy to hear that this "creatively" stupid idea has been axed.

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