SMO ‚Äî Proponents of a pro-Santa Monica Airport ballot measure aren‚Äôt wasting any time.
A group formed to support the measure, which would put most future changes to the airport in the hands of the voters, has already raised $265,365, according to its latest filing with the City Clerk‚Äôs Office earlier this month.
A majority of that cash comes from two national organizations: The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), which gave $125,000 and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), which dropped $117,400 to date.
In order to get their measure on the ballot in November, proponents needed signatures from 15 percent of registered Santa Monica voters. To pull that off, they spent more than $180,000 on signature-gatherers ‚Äî paid petition circulators who were seen holding clipboards all over the city, including at the farmers‚Äô markets, outside of grocery stores, and in front of City Hall.
In total, the proponents have spent $256,000.
The pro-SMO measure will have to compete with City Council‚Äôs own ballot measure, which would retain council‚Äôs control over the airport but would require voter-approved limitations be established before development is approved for the land.
City Hall is not allowed to promote the measure on its own, only educate the public, but a resident group, Committee for Local Control of Santa Monica Airport Land (CLCSMAL), has formed to support it and to oppose the AOPA-backed measure.
John Fairweather, who heads the group, said they hope to raise $250,000 of their own but still expect to be outspent handily.
“We have not yet started serious fundraising though we intend to soon,” he said. “Despite that, we have already raised enough from core volunteers to hire a very experienced campaign consultant with Santa Monica expertise, and with their help we are putting the things into place that we will need.”
Regardless of the size of the respective treasure chest, Fairweather is confident his side will prevail for a number of reasons. He believes they will have more local support in the campaign; numerous neighborhood groups and the city‚Äôs largest political party have come out against the AOPA-backed campaign claiming, among other things, that it unfairly ties the closing of the airport to inevitable high-density development.
“The people of Santa Monica are not stupid and will see through their deception,” he said.
Proponents of the pro-SMO measure did not respond to requests for comment by press time.