One week ago, aviation lobby group AOPA posted an article about the fight for local control of the airport in Santa Monica, CA [KSMO]. Some interesting reader comments came in before the comment period was closed (an apparent 7-day standard comment period). Looking closely at these 31 comments, a few points are clear:
- ‘pro-airport’ commenters tend to rely on arguments that (a) the airport was there first (so neighbors should just ‘suck it up’), (b) elected officials are greedy and corrupt, (c) vocal airport neighbors are also just greedily trying to make money by closing the airport, (d) neighbors suffer from a ‘class-envy’ against wealthy aircraft operators, and (e) airports are closing all over the country. None of these arguments are supported by any rational evidence.
- ‘pro-local control’ commenters focus on health impacts connected to air pollution (including lead) and noise pollution, as well as safety issues such as the lack of adequate runway protection zones (needed to safely contain accidental runway excursions, protecting both pilots and neighbors). They appear to trust that their elected officials are NOT corrupt and are truly aimed at serving the public, including eliminating the pollution/health issues, and developing more needed park space.
- shockingly, at least two pro-airport commenters advocate eminent domain property seizures to protect their right to use the airport property. Ironically, one of the largest appeals of aviation is a sense of freedom and self-sufficiency while flying, and yet here we have aviators seemingly oblivious to the liberties of airport neighbors.
- It would be appropriate (and advisable?) for Santa Monica City Council members to quickly address the rumors of ‘conflict of interest’. Specifically, the Council should address this charge and have each member declare their status, related to the possibility that they have a financial interest that would benefit from the closing or scaling-down of the airport. This entire matter would take just 5-10 minutes at the next Council meeting, and would put all Council members on the record.
- Obviously, if there are any Council members with a conflict of interest, they need to both disclose and fully recuse from future decisions.
To read the archived comments, please see page two of this Post.