YOUR COLUMN HERE — In the seventies I was a student pilot and I flew out of Santa Monica Airport. I enjoyed my experiences and have a fondness for the airport. But with the passage of the decades, I have come to believe that the Airport should be closed and the land should not be commercially developed, but should remain parkland.
I encourage all to go on line and read the City Council Report (3/25/14) entitled “The Future of Santa Monica Airport” because there is so much disinformation put forth by those who want to keep the Airport open and allow jets to fly in and out of the Airport. This report confirms that the City owns the land, and that the bulk of the land was purchased with general obligation bonds that were approved by the voters and issued for “park purposes.” When bonds are used to acquire land for “park purposes” that land must remain as parkland until the voters vote otherwise or the president issues a proclamation stating that there exists an “unlimited national emergency requiring military, naval, aviation and civilian readiness to repel any and all acts or threats of aggression.” In the days after Pearl Harbor (12/7/41) President Roosevelt issued Presidential Proclamation 2487. During World War II, according to the City Council Report of 3/25/14 “airport and community interests were aligned” especially since an invasion of the West Coast was a real possibility in the early days of World War II.
The war ended and the problems/disputes began which resulted in a multiplicity of litigation being filed over the airport. To resolve this litigation, in 1984 the City and the AAA (federal government) entered into a written agreement which put an end to the litigation, required the City to operate the airport until 2015, and permitted the City to close the airport when the 1984 agreement expires in 2015.
The aviation industry, aware of the very real possibility that the City might decide to close the airport when the agreement expires in 2015, has placed a measure on the
ballot designed to keep the airport open, and the aviation industry has sent out a flier designed to scare the public by erroneously telling the public that their choice is between the noisy and polluting and arguably unsafe airport with jet flights coming in and out many times each day, or, some sort of mega-development which will generate tens of thousands of car trips each day. But there is a third choice, which is to use those acres for the purpose for which they were intended, which is parkland and recreational use.
The People of Santa Monica already own these acres of land. They belong to you and me – we the people. This land was acquired for the people to be parkland. We could put together something similar to the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy and turn the 227 acres referenced on the aviation industry’s flier into something wonderful which would benefit all of Santa Monica – not just the wealthy one per cent who fly private jets in and out of the Airport, and the privileged few who can afford flying lessons and ownership of the private planes that are parked at the Airport.
With all those acres available (which we already own) we could have: bike paths, hiking trails, multiple dog parks scattered throughout the many acres of the parkland, a “walk of art” comparable to the UCLA Sculpture Garden which would display public art, after-school and/or summer nature-oriented recreational space for children similar to the UCLA Bruin Camp which is available to children during the summer we well as programs focusing on nature, gardens of drought-resistant native California plants, groves of drought-resistant native California trees, space for kite-flying, playing fields for soccer, baseball, softball, etc., dedicated space for rollerskaters and skateboarders, public gardens where people could grow their own vegetables, a rock climbing wall, a conservatory similar to the one in Golden Gate State Park, a senior center, an observatory or planetarium.
I live north of Wilshire and I own no property in the Sunset Park or Ocean Park Avenue. However, I used to live in Sunset Park until I moved with my family out of Sunset Park in part because of the constant noise from the airport.
I have heard the accusation thrown about that the only Santa Monicans who care about the airport issue are those who own property in Sunset Park; I am here to tell you that I care deeply about this issue though I live elsewhere in the City, and I would like to see all the people in the City benefit from this land, which could become a reality if this land is used for its intended purpose, which is parkland and recreational land.