Voters in Santa Monica passed Measure LC, surviving an intense effort (and lots of out-of-area funding) to kill their goal of regaining local control of their airport. In June 2015, a 30-year-old agreement between the city and FAA ends, and the city then has the option to close all or part of the 227-acre airport [KSMO].
Two measures were on the ballot yesterday: Measure LC (which would grant the City Council authority to convert all or part of the airport into parks or other recreational uses) and Measure D (which was designed to compel another citizen vote, if the City Council proposed any actions that would reduce the airport from its present configuration). Measure LC passed with 60% ‘YES’ votes; Measure D failed, with 58% ‘NO’ votes.
A driving force behind passage of Measure LC was the fact that this community, while blessed with beautiful weather year-round, is heavily populated but severely lacking in park space. A wonderful place to live, but not enough green space to simply relax.
One group in particular, Airport2Park.org, played David to Aviation’s Goliath. They scored a rare victory, despite the aggressive (and often quite deceptive) campaign waged by aviation interests. Now, they have to face an even larger Goliath, FAA, which likely will stonewall every effort for the next decade or two.
This is unfortunate, and unnecessary. The reality is that there are two main issues at Santa Monica: lead pollution from aviation fuel, and noise/carbon pollution caused by the increasing number of jet charter operations. The lead issue would be substantially reduced if Santa Monica had local control to NOT ALLOW closed-pattern flight training operations. As for the jet issues, these operations would more safely happen out of nearby airports, including LAX [KLAX], 5-miles southeast of KSMO), Hawthorne [KHHR], 8-miles southeast of KSMO), Van Nuys ([KVNY], 12-miles north of KSMO), and Burbank ([KBUR], 12-miles northeast of KSMO).
All four of these airports are far below their historic peak usages, thus present enormous capacity to absorb jet flights that should be relocated from KSMO. ATC can easily manage the minor added flow into these airports because the business jets are generally all capable of matching the speeds and flight profiles typical of commercial jets. Indeed, these flight characteristics make them far safer to operate in jet flows, instead of in the slower single-propeller flows typical of most aircraft at KSMO.
Here is a short table showing KSMO and the four nearby airports to which jet traffic would be easily relocated:
|LAX:||2013 operations are down 22% since peak year 2000.||Longest runway available is 12,091 feet.|
|Hawthorne:||2013 operations are down 53% since peak year 1992.||Longest runway available is 4,956 feet.|
|Van Nuys:||2013 operations are down 55% since peak year 1999.||Longest runway available is 8,001 feet.|
|Burbank:||2013 operations are down 41% since peak year 1991.||Longest runway available is 6,886 feet.|
|Santa Monica:||2013 operations are down 59% since peak year 1991.||Longest runway available is 4,973 feet.|
Clearly, given the substantial decline at all LA Basin airports, it is quite reasonable to enable the Santa Monica City Council to consider fully closing this one airport, and shift the jets to other jet-focused airports.
Here are a few comments submitted to a local article about yesterday’s election results, in the Santa Monica Mirror:
- Victory/Thanks Statement (by John Fairweather, Chair)
- Opinions Vary on Reasons for Lopsided Ballot Measure Results
- Letter to FAA Administrator, by Congresswoman Karen Bass
- Airport Agreement Between FAA and Santa Monica (January 1984)