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Santa Monica Airport Faces Critical Ballot Measure

October 16, 2014 - Two competing measures related to the future of Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO) are on Santa Monica’s ballot for Election Day, November 4. One initiative, Measure D, would prevent the city council from closing all or part of the airport, change use of the airport land, or impose new restrictions on the sale of fuel without voter approval. Measure LC, on the other hand, would allow the city council to close all or part of the airport to facilitate development of the 227-acre parcel of airport land.

The city of Santa Monica unsuccessfully tried to close SMO six times in the past 30 years, each time waging expensive and fruitless campaigns against the FAA. Their latest attempt failed in February 2014, when a federal judge threw out the city’s lawsuit that attempted to take control of the land from the FAA. The city sued despite its grant obligations, as well as a clause in the land’s deed that stipulates that it must be used as an airport into perpetuity unless the federal government agrees to a change in land use status. The airport is home to 175 businesses, 1,500 jobs, 269 aircraft, and has approximately 450 aircraft operations per day.

The city argues that closing the airport is necessary to lessen the impact of air and noise pollution caused by air traffic. Airport advocates, however, counter that the city’s attempts to close the airport are simply an effort to gain control of highly valuable open land - a rarity around Los Angeles - so they can sell it to developers who will turn it into high-density residential neighborhoods. The airport proponents also argue that an ironic consequence of closing the airport would be an increase in noise pollution, because heavy passenger jets travelling to and from LAX must currently avoid Santa Monica because of SMO, but would not if the airport were shuttered.

EAA e-mailed its approximately 2,600 members who live in and around Santa Monica alerting them to the issue’s importance. For more information about the ongoing struggle to control SMO, visit the Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development Decisions website

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