What on Earth were they thinking? I’m talking about the Santa Monica (anti) Airport Commission?

After a federal judge tossed out City Hall’s lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over future uses at the 227-acre Santa Monica Airport (SMO) property last month, “The Airport Commission voted 4 to 1 to send a recommendation to City Council that would halt the sale of aviation fuel and restrict the rental of airport property to any tenants other than art studios and those doing light manufacturing.” They also suggested raising all rents to market rate, reported the Santa Monica Daily Press (“Airport Commission recommends starving SMO,” March 3, Pg. 1)

If I were an aero-related tenant at the airport, I’d be looking into suing City Hall if this recommendation is acted on by City Council. I would think that adoption of the commission’s recommendations would constitute discrimination against aviation-related tenants and a threat to private business and livelihoods.

On Dec. 9, 2011, this newspaper editorialized after real-estate executive and Sunset Park resident David Goddard (now chairman) was appointed to the Airport Commission (“Airport Commission’s lack of diversity is troubling.”) and stated that he “had a strong anti-airport agenda.”

The Daily Press pointed out that Goddard was a member of the Friends of Sunset Park neighborhood group which had been “vigorously lobbying elected officials to shut SMO down or at least extremely curtail operations there” and noted that Goddard was encouraging residents to fill out a survey from the anti-SMO Community Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic (CASMAT).

The five person commission is rife with airport haters — four of whom live near SMO — who want to see the airport closed. They seems to only represent a select few anti-airport residents in West Los Angeles and Sunset Park instead of the community as a whole.

The editorial continued, “There was a time when the Airport Commission was comprised of representatives from the aviation community, merchants operating around the airport and residents in both Sunset Park and elsewhere. It was truly representative of the community. Right now the commission is not. It represents one view — those who feel SMO is a danger to the public because it lacks proper runway safety areas and contributes to air pollution.”

Suggesting shutting down businesses and terminating hundreds of airport-related jobs is despicable. Chairman Goddard, Vice Chair Peter Donald, Steven Mark, Suzanne Paulson and Lael Rubin were all appointed by the City Council. Nevertheless, council should condemn their repulsive recommendation on no uncertain terms.

The future for the airport will almost certainly include aviation uses. Therefore, decisions on its future must produce results that are best for all stakeholders including airport neighbors. Unfortunately, this bunch of political appointees has demonstrated they’re not up to the challenge

 

Praise the lord

 

In early February, I heard complaints about a new “City of God” church that had leased the Grant Elementary School auditorium from the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) for Sunday morning services although I didn’t write about it.

A few residents along Pearl Street and near Grant school were complaining that some church-goer’s cars were parking in front of their houses on Sunday mornings. Preferential parking permits (enacted years ago to keep nearby Santa Monica College students from occupying spaces on public streets) aren’t in effect on weekends.

There were complaints about large banners hung outside the school inviting people to come in and worship in addition to smaller lawn signs that had been placed around the neighborhood — the latter may be a violation of municipal codes.

I was informed that people arrive as early as 7 a.m. to unload cars and put up signage. I also received e-mails from neighbors who were offended because church leaders failed to inform them of their plans beforehand.

There were (and still are) noise complaints because loud, amplified, “Christian rock” music carries into the neighborhood during Sunday services.

An article about the situation appeared in the March 3 Los Angeles Times and another article accusing Sunset Park residents of being intolerant NIMBYs popped-up on LA.Curbed.com a few days later.

Are church related vehicles parked on a public street on Sunday morning a big problem? 55 worshippers at a recent service (according to the L.A. Times) doesn’t seem like an unreasonable burden on the neighborhood.

Pearl Street is a busy thoroughfare with a public school. There will be occasional weekend events and traffic. Even though this part of Sunset Park is residential, it’s still an active urban area, 24/7.

I’m not a big supporter of religious institutions but in this situation, I feel Grant neighbors are acting unreasonably. However, there are issues that need to be addressed.

The early set-up before the school is “officially” available (by terms of the contract with the school district) should be curtailed.

The SMMUSD should use some of the rent revenue — reportedly $1,067 per week — to install soundproofing or heavy drapery to prevent amplified sound from radiating into the neighborhood.

I’ve been writing for years about how the district should be exploring opportunities to raise revenues above and beyond imposing parcel taxes on residents. Selling facility naming rights, licensing school names and logos and leasing out school facilities to help bring in needed income is smart thinking.

Finally, someone has got the right idea. The leasing of the Grant auditorium to the “City of God” is good business but only if it can be done without an undue burden on nearby residents. The question is, “What constitutes undue burden?”

 

 

Bill can be reached at mr.bilbau@gmail.com.

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