Since 1987, there have been at least 14 fatal air crashes and many more non-fatal runway and landing gear mishaps, ocean ditches, mechanical failures and near collisions of aircraft (one with a Boeing 737), operating out of Santa Monica Airport. In 1980, former Santa Monica Mayor Pieter van den Steenhoven was killed when he ditched his plane into the ocean.
The latest fatal crash occurred around 6 p.m. Friday involving a Cessna. Who knows how many close calls have been unreported, with all the inexperienced student pilots operating out of SMO flight schools. What will it take for action to be taken; a crash involving massive injuries and deaths?
In 2004, when I was a resident of Sunset Park, a heavily-populated residential area right next to the airport, I participated in a forum on airport pollution. I expressed my deep concerns about public safety and the health effects on my infant son.
I have been advocating closing the Santa Monica Airport for over 10 years and was the first candidate for political office to do so. I was mocked and laughed at by naysayers and lost my Association of Flight Attendants endorsement.
Now, however, local, state and national politicians are finally joining me in calling for closure of SMO in 2015 when the lease expires. It is not enough to simply increase the fines for pollution and noise violations, or to ban large jets, as our gutless City Council is considering.
The airport generates no income for the city; it barely breaks even. There are lots of ways that city-owned land could be put to use while still maintaining a helipad for emergencies. Santa Monica is facing a deficit, due to fiscal mismanagement. One way to balance the budget, rather than increasing taxes again, is to utilize the aircraft hangars to industrial grow medical marijuana for enormous profit for the city. Why let the tobacco companies and corporate growers (as is being considered in Oakland, Calif.) make huge profits that could be used for education and other vital programs. Our emasculated City Council would rather relinquish sovereignty to state and federal authorities, as they have in the past.