May 29, 2014 - A citizens’ group in Santa Monica, California, is attempting to end the ongoing struggle between Santa Monica’s municipal government and the Santa Monica Municipal Airport (KSMO), which the city wants to close.
Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development Decisions, which has received significant sponsorship from AOPA and other aviation associations, started a drive to introduce and pass a ballot measure that would require direct voter approval before the city could close or partially close the airport.
At the root of the city’s desire to close the airport is the site’s 227 acres, valued at more than $2 billion. The city and real estate developers believe that moving the land from its current low-density use to high-density use would bring the city more tax revenue, despite the airport’s 1,500 jobs and 175 businesses that would necessarily disappear if the city had its way. The area would also experience increased traffic congestion, noise, and air pollution if the airport is developed into a high-density suburban space.
“The Santa Monica Airport is a trial balloon for every municipality that wants, for whatever reason, to close an airport over the strong objections of the federal government, local pilots and businesses, and the aviation community,” said Sean Elliott, EAA vice president of advocacy and safety. “It is critically important for our membership to support the SMO cause, for if the city is successful in this case, other cities will use Santa Monica tactics as a playbook for closing their own airports. Unfortunately, the series of SMO closure attempts is being monitored very closely by many aviation-hostile municipal and county governments. We cannot allow it to become an anti-airport result.”
More information about the ballot initiative can be found at www.smvotersdecide.com. Endorsements and other support are welcome, as there are considerable costs to the legal and procedural expenses related to creating a ballot measure.