SMO — The FAA should conduct an environmental review and hold public meetings about possible flight path changes at Santa Monica Airport, according to two members of Congress whose districts are affected by SMO.

In a letter from Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Santa Monica) and Jane Harman (D-Venice) sent on Monday to FAA Administrator J. Randolph Babbitt, both legislators took up the cause of activists in the Sunset Park and Ocean Park neighborhoods who in recent months complained a six-month test earlier this year of a new takeoff route for piston powered planes leaving SMO caused a spike in flight traffic over their homes.

“It is imperative that the FAA produce a complete and thorough [environmental impact study] and hold public meetings to explain the purpose and results of the recent flight-path test, hear from affected homeowners and assess the broader safety, noise and air quality impacts of air traffic in the midst of densely populated neighborhoods,” the letter stated.

Waxman, whose district includes Santa Monica, had already expressed support last month for an SMO environmental study. Harman, though, had been silent on the issue until Monday. Some vocal members of her constituency had taken a different stance on the flight path test from many Santa Monica residents, arguing it reduced flight traffic over their Venice homes.

Zina Josephs, who leads the group Friends of Sunset Park, said it was a significant step that Harman had joined Waxman to call for an environmental review.

“We think the more congressional representatives that are contacting the FAA about this the better, so we were very gratified that both Rep. Waxman and Rep Harman joined together,” she said.

A representative from Harman’s office could not be reached for comment.

The Santa Monica City Council also has expressed its support for an environmental review of the experimental flight path. The FAA has yet to say whether it will seek to make the test route permanent.

nickt@smdp.com