SANTA MONICA—Supporters of the Santa Monica Airport including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the National Business Aviation Association suffered a loss on November 4 when Measure D failed to win the public’s vote.
More than $800,000 was raised, most of it coming from the aforementioned organizations, for the measure that would have required a public vote on any changes to aviation uses on the airport land.
In contrast to Measure D was Measure LC, backed by the City Council, which received nearly 60 percent of the public’s vote. Measure LC affirms Santa Monica City Council’s right to make decisions about the airport’s land. As a safeguard, the measure requires a public approval of land-use guidelines to be approved by voters before anything can be done with the airport property, which spans 227 acres.
Bill Dunn, the AOPA Vice President of Airports, wrote in a statement, “We are tremendously disappointed that the city council will be able to continue business as usual when it comes to attempts to close and redevelop the airport.”
The AOPA issued a news release that read, “While the city must continue to operate the airport under its existing agreement with the FAA, they have previously tried to strangle flight operations with exorbitant landing and rental fees, and several council members have received financial backing from local developers, leading to fears that the council will work to close the airport to allow industrial and office development on the airport site. Measure D would have given city voters the power to make that decision.”
Discussing the practical benefit of the airport, Dunn explains, “Santa Monica Municipal Airport also acts as a vital general aviation reliever airport for nearby Los Angeles International and other airports in the congested LA Basin. Ed Bolen, NBAA President and CEO, adds that the airport “provides an economic input of more than $250 million to the local economy each year and supports 175 businesses and 1,500 jobs.”
Bolen stated that that the NBAA will continue to fight to keep the airport operational: “NBAA has worked for decades to retain this important asset in our federal airport network, and we will continue to fight to ensure that the airport lives up to its obligations, and that business aviation continues to have access to the facility.”
Measure LC enlisted the support of many environmental organizations due to the pollution and safety concerns regarding SMO aircraft operations in densely populated residential communities.
“It’s Our Land,” a grassroots coalition of Santa Monica residents supported Measure LC, arguing “Our City maintains the right to manage the airport in order to decrease noise and air pollution, and increase safety, or to close all or part of the airport and turn it into a park, which would mean an end to jets at SMO.”