SMO — As we inch closer to the November election, the Santa Monica Airport is feeling less like an airport and more like a battleground.
Activists on both sides of the issue are squaring off on a daily basis through forums, campaign contributions, and lawsuits.
The airport, which saw major growth during wartime, is hated by many residents who complain about the pollution and noise caused by the jets. Those who live nearby fear for their safety with runway just a few hundred feet from homes.
Proponents of the airport say it would be essential in the case of widespread disaster and point to the cash it generates for the region.
In November, residents will decide between two ballot measures. One, financially backed by aviation interests, would require a public vote for any significant changes to the airport. The other, formulated by City Council, leave council in charge of most decisions surrounding the SMO but would require a public vote to allow development of the land.
On Monday the president of the Maryland-based Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and the president of the Washington, DC-based National Business Aviation Association will attend a Pilot Town Hall at the airport.
“AOPA President Mark Baker and NBAA President Ed Bolen will be joining us to talk about the most significant land use decision in Santa Monica History,” says a release from AOPA.
AOPA and NBAA have each spent more than $100,000 in support of the pro-SMO initiative.
Meanwhile, the Committee for Local Control of Santa Monica Airport Land (CLCSMAL), the political action committee formed to oppose the pro-SMO measure and support council’s measure, will host a kickoff meeting tonight at the Mount Olive Church.
“At the Wednesday meeting, we’ll show how Measure LC provides voters a concrete way to overcome the Washington aviation lobby’s attempt to run SMO for its benefit, allowing more jets, more pollution and more uncertainty,” a release about the event said.
On Sept. 20, Marty Rubin will host a City Council candidates forum focused on the airport. Rubin is the director of Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution (CRAAP).
Some residents who are opposed to the airport have filed a second lawsuit opposing the pro-SMO ballot measure. The first lawsuit, filed against both City Hall and the backers of the measure sought to have the pro-airport measure thrown out. While City Hall wants to close the airport, the City of Santa Monica filed a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) motion in response to being sued and the case is now delayed. The anti-airport litigants filed the second suit, which also names City Hall, with the goal of amending the pro-SMO measure. The first hearing is scheduled for Friday.
The cash continues to roll in for the pro-SMO measure. Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development Decisions, the committee supporting the measure, had raised more than $250,000 by mid-July, with much of that going toward the paid signature gathers who helped collect the necessary John Hancock’s to get it on the ballot.
Just last week they got an additional $45,000 according to campaign disclosure statements.
CLCSMAL has yet to raise any money, according to the most recent statements, but founder John Fairweather told the Daily Press previously that they hoped to raise about $250,000 of their own. They expect to be outspent handily.
What: CLCSMAL Kickoff meeting
Date: Wednesday, Aug. 19, from 7 to 9 p.m. (doors 6:30 p.m.)
Location: Mount Olive Church, 1343 Ocean Park Blvd.
What: Pilot Town Hall
Date: Monday, Aug. 25 at 7 p.m.
Location: Justice Aviation, 3011 Airport Ave.
RSVP not required but appreciated: firstname.lastname@example.org
What: CRAAP’s City Council Candidates Forum
Date: Saturday, Sept. 20 from 12 to 3 p.m.
Location: Santa Monica Business Park, 3250 Ocean Park Blvd., Suite 160