7 May 2017
The Daily Press published a front-page article about the lawsuits that were filed against closure of the Santa Monica airport (May 6, 2017) . The pressure to close comes from a small number of residents near the west end of the runway, who bought their homes knowing the airport would be their neighbor, and from developers who want a 300 acre parcel in a prime neighborhood for high-rise development..
Santa Monica attracted many companies by offering convenient air transport without long lines for check-in and security. Occasionally entertainment companies shoot at remote locations, for example on the desert or in west Texas (where Giant was shot) or the Canadian Rockies (where part of Dr. Zhivago was shot). Construction companies and architects often travel to small airports. Most corporate travel to and from Santa Monica is probably to other cities’ satellite airports that have no airline service. Some companies have their own airplanes and some rent or lease them from “Fixed-Base Operators” that are in process of closing their Santa Monica businesses.
It is true that a few rich individuals, often actors, keep airplanes at Santa Monica. They provide airport jobs and pay taxes to the city. They add insignificantly to noise and pollution.
Will the City Council continue to favor a few fearful (or greedy) homeowners and eager developers versus the Santa Monica companies that use the airport? As a 50-year Santa Monica homeowner, I think the City Council should favor the companies.
.What will those companies do if the airport closes?
- They might let their people travel to LAX or Burbank by automobile and wait in line for check-in and security for commercial airlines. This would be extremely inconvenient to their employees and an added inefficiency to company operations. It would partly negate their choice of locating in Santa Monica.
- They might helicopter their people to Van Nuys where they would move their airplanes. The helicopters would fly from roof-top heliports in and near Santa Monica causing far more noise, pollution, and danger than do business jets..
- They might move their offices to a city that has a functioning airport. In a day of Internet communication, any city could be chosen. Such a move would parallel the move of Douglas Aircraft’s manufacturing, engineering, marketing, and corporate offices to Long Beach when Santa Monica refused to extend its runway to accommodate jet aircraft in the 1950s. There are many small airports in the Los Angeles basin that would serve as alternatives.
Dreams about converting the 300 acres into a huge public park are wishful thinking. Landscaping, access roads and paths, maintenance and police patrols would probably cost upward of ten million dollars per year, far beyond the city’s budget. If the airport closes, portions of it now dedicated to baseball fields and Santa Monica College would probably remain. The rest of the airport would become high-rise like Century City with heavy automobile traffic and rooftop heliports
As an aside when I travel, I drive to LAX and wait in line but I do not begrudge the companies a more efficient way to travel. I have no financial interest in the airport.