I was delighted to read in the Santa Monica Daily Press (“Airport petitioners claim to have more than 12k signatures,” May 24-25, 2014) that 12,000 signatures have been gathered to support the Santa Monica Airport petition. Great news!
As I go around my neighborhood gathering signatures as an unpaid petition volunteer, I pitch the petition as pro-airport and anti-development and I believe that that description correctly states the case. The people who have signed the petition know the value of the airport to the community and its value as a buffer against low-flying, large commercial jets. If we were to let the City Council decide on the 227 acres of valuable airport land, you all know what would happen ‚Äî massive development and increased traffic. I don‚Äôt trust the council to listen to the majority of the population who do not want more unwise development.
The continued existence of the airport (SMO) is necessary and valuable since its allocated airspace prevents large, commercial jets from flying lower over Santa Monica. SMO is under Los Angeles‚Äô airspace which means that large commercial jets (747s, Airbuses, 777s and, in fact, any aircraft going to LAX) must stay above 5,000 feet while over Santa Monica and Malibu extending to Point Dume. According to a recent column in the Santa Monica Daily Press, several airlines, thinking that the Santa Monica City Council might be successful in closing the airport, have already started the process of asking the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to amend the altitude requirements to allow a lower approach over Santa Monica. This would save fuel and time for the airlines but would greatly increase noise levels over all of Santa Monica and West Los Angeles. North of Los Angeles Airport (LAX) around Hollywood Park, City Hall and Dodger Stadium the altitude requirement is only 2,500 feet. That‚Äôs what the new altitude could be if the our airport (SMO) goes away. I don‚Äôt want that to happen. Ask any pilot to show you his/her terminal area chart of the Los Angeles airspace.
I will keep gathering signatures, not only to gain more signatures, but also as an aid to my neighbors in letting them know what is at stake here in Santa Monica. If the airport were to close, there would be massive development at the site. Every condo and apartment developer would want to build very high buildings so that they could advertise sea views. And, naturally, there would have to be stores and markets (and probably not enough parking) to support those developments which would draw massive traffic, noise and auto pollution to that new, high-density area. The City Council has already publicly stated that there is not enough money to support another park (after having spent over $40 million of our taxes on Tongva Park).
Happily, it does seem that a critical mass is developing here in Santa Monica ‚Äî people are fighting back against unwise development (e.g. Hines, the protests by the artists at the proposed Bergamot Station development etc.). We cannot leave these decisions to the developer-centric City Council which never sees a development project that they don‚Äôt like. The pro-airport petition fights that sort of development while protecting the valuable benefits of the airport to all of Santa Monica.
Find a petition to sign!