SMO — The city’s largest political party has come out against a recent ballot initiative that aims to put the future of the Santa Monica Airport in the hands of voters.

The Steering Committee of Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights (SMRR) voted on Saturday to oppose the petition filed by three Santa Monica residents.

Last month City Council voted to study plans that could include chipping away at the airport by reducing the size of the runway and restricting fuel sales.

Days later the three residents filed a petition to amend City Charter to require that decisions about the airport be put to a public vote. They claimed in their filing that the land would become the site of large developments if left vacant.

The advocates will have about six months to collect signatures from 15 percent of Santa Monica’s registered voters before the November ballot. There were nearly 61,000 registered voters in the city as of 2012.

Last week, one group announced they would challenge the petition in court, calling it deceptive.

Former Santa Monica Mayor Denny Zane made the motion at the SMRR Steering Committee meeting, according to a release from Airport2Park, a group interested in preserving the airport land as a greenspace.

“This initiative, although cloaked in rhetoric about the rights of the people, is really all about perpetuating private benefits at the airport,” Zane said according to the release. “While it is too early for SMRR to support one future use of the airport land over another, it is urgent that SMRR oppose this initiative that would cut off planning for that future.”

Neighbors have long complained about the noise and pollution created by aircraft taking off and landing at the airport. Others fear for their safety with the runway being located about 300 feet from homes.

Advocates of the airport say it would be essential in the event of a natural disaster and point to the $275 million it generates annually for the local economy.

City Hall sued the Federal Aviation Administration last year to determine who controls the airport but a judge threw the case out. Earlier this month council voted to file paperwork that would reserve its right to appeal the judge’s decision.

Several calls to those who submitted the petition have not been returned.

dave@smdp.com

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