SMO — For years, activists concerned about pollution they say is generated by planes and jets flying in and out of Santa Monica Airport have asked the government to take action.
Now, a congressional candidate is taking the plea for cleaner air near SMO to a more personal level.
This week, Marcy Winograd, a Democrat who is running for Congress in the 36th District, now represented by Jane Harman, sent a letter asking Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other celebrities asking them to stop using SMO for private jet flights.
“The health and well being of people in West L.A. should take precedence over convenience,” she said.
The letter seeking a “no jet pledge” at SMO also went to Steven Spielberg, Julia Roberts, John Travolta and Tom Cruise, all of whom reportedly use the airport, Winograd said.
She said she isn’t suggesting the celebrities forego private jets, just that they land at another airport, such as Van Nuys, with a larger buffer between runways and residential areas.
Winograd said she had the idea after attending a forum this month where researchers discussed studies that detected high levels of ultra-fine particles in the air near SMO.
“I don’t know of any organized efforts to reach out to the people who are actually using these jets so I thought it’s certainly worth a try,” she said.
The City Council on Tuesday took a step toward supporting a broader governmental response to concerns about pollution caused by private jets, directing staff to lobby other regulatory agencies to work on the issue. No federal standards exist for regulating ultra-fine particles, in part because there hasn’t yet been a definitive study to determine the particles’ toxicity.
Reached on Wednesday, Schwarzenegger’s press secretary, Aaron Mclear, declined to discuss the governor’s air travel arrangements and said he was unaware of Winograd’s letter.
“We never talk about the governor’s movements for security reasons,” he said.
Referring to concerns about pollution caused by jets at SMO, he said, “it sounds like a local issue — I’m not sure that we have an opinion.”
The first frequent-jet-flying Hollywood star or politician to sign the pledge will be featured on Winograd’s Facebook page, the candidate has promised.
Since sending the pledges out on Monday, Winograd is yet to receive a response. She said if none of the celebrities signs the pledge within a week she’ll follow up with phone calls and may pass out fliers publicizing her request at events the celebrities attend. As she learns of more celebrities who regularly use the airport she said she’ll send out more requests for pledges not to use SMO.
Bob Trimborn, SMO’s manager, said the airport averages about 40 jet take-offs and landings each day.
He said of Winograd’s “no jet pledge” campaign: “It’s an interesting concept I’ve really never heard of before. Anyone can ask anyone to do anything.”
Martin Rubin, who heads the group Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution, called Winograd’s effort “a great idea.”
Rubin, though, already asked the governor to stop using SMO in a letter he sent last March. He said he never received a response.