In Mr. Brian Bland’s rebuttal to a comment made by Brenda Anderson in her letter of June 21 on the Lincoln Boulevard Task Force (LBTF), it’s clear he has not taken to heart the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s comment: “You can have your own opinion but not your own facts.” (“Responding to Anderson, Letters to the Editor, June 28) He objected to her one-line reference in her letter to the loss of nearly 1,500 jobs if Santa Monica Airport (SMO) is closed. The connection to LBTF was, briefly, that closing auto shops on Lincoln was yet another possible source of job loss in Santa Monica.
Some background: the RAND Corporation and HR&A Associates were asked by the Santa Monica City Council to analyze the effects of the Santa Monica Airport (SMO) on the local economy. I was at the City Council meeting when the reports were presented. The City Council hired the consultants, not a pro-airport group.
The number of direct SMO jobs mentioned in Ms. Anderson’s letter came from the information presented to the City Council by the consultants. I heard the same numbers (which are in the RAND and HR&A reports). Ms Anderson wrote “nearly 1,500 jobs.” The actual number was 1,487, close enough, I think. They also reported that SMO businesses contribute $275 million a year to the local economy. There are about 177 businesses directly associated with SMO covering a variety of industry sectors (different types of businesses). An important finding by the RAND Corporation/HR&A Associates at the City Council presentation was that the airport could produce more than $275 million a year to the local economy if the council would support the airport better.
The people who want to close the airport like to omit annoying little facts like that and make up their own. And, contrary to Mr. Bland’s opinion, jobs are often “lost.” Mr. Bland says that the jobs would not be lost but would “… follow the jets and flight schools to a more suitable airport.” The truth is that the jobs would thus be lost to the local economy. That’s the overriding concern.
I am not interested in helping Phoenix or San Diego’s economy by sending our jobs to them. 1,500 jobs in a total of 177 SMO-related businesses are definitely not six flight schools and a couple of mechanics. SMO is one of the top 10 employers here in Santa Monica and, contrary to Mr. Bland’s assertion, it doesn’t matter a bit if some of those nearly 1,500 SMO-related jobs are not literally located on the airport. If they support SMO businesses, but are a mile or a block away, they would go away if SMO closes. An analogy would be that not all of Santa Monica city’s jobs are at the Santa Monica council offices. If they are based elsewhere in Santa Monica are they not still Santa Monica city jobs? Apparently, Mr. Bland would say they are not if we follow his line of reasoning on the SMO jobs.
It’s distressing how Mr. Bland casually blows off the value of the SMO workers and their jobs to Santa Monica.