The Santa Monica Daily Press editorial writers are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.   

Regarding the Dec. 9 editorial about the Airport Commission (“Airport Commission’s lack of diversity is troubling”): Are residents who attend the commission meetings supposed to feel guilty because pilots don’t bother to attend? It’s not quite clear as to what the editorial writer’s complaint is. Perhaps pilots prefer to sit home and watch TV, or fly pattern loops over residential areas at night, while the rest of us sit shivering in the City Council Chambers.  

Regarding City Council appointees to the Airport Commission, if one looks at the current applicants on City Hall’s website, only one of them is a pilot, and he lives in Sunset Park and describes himself as active in Friends of Sunset Park. Since Santa Monica Airport is located within the boundaries of the Sunset Park neighborhood, it should come as no surprise that nearby residents are interested in the airport and apply to serve on the Airport Commission, just as people who are interested in the arts apply for the Arts Commission.  

As to the implication that being active in a neighborhood organization should perhaps disqualify someone from serving on a commission, many members of city boards and commissions, as well as elected officials, are members of neighborhood organizations. Planning Commissioner Ted Winterer is a former president of the Ocean Park Association, Councilmember Kevin McKeown is a former chair of the Wilshire/Montana Neighborhood Coalition, and Mayor Richard Bloom is a former president of Friends of Sunset Park.

And contrary to the editorial, Friends of Sunset Park (FOSP) is not “vigorously lobbying elected officials to shut SMO down or at least extremely curtail operations there.” If the Daily Press had assigned someone to cover the Nov. 3 “Can We Talk?” meeting in Sunset Park, the reporter would have received a copy of the FOSP board recommendations to city officials for 2012, which included the following:

Santa Monica Airport (SMO)

a) Ensure that the airport visioning process includes discussion of all options for reducing the impact of airport operations on residents, including safety concerns, concerns about aircraft emissions (ultrafine particles, black carbon, etc.), and concerns about noise.

b) Delay the awarding of phase two contracts with the consultants until the public is informed as to the scope of the work plan. Since the phase one reports from HR&A and the RAND Corp. seemed to assume “the status quo” as far as airport operations are concerned, we don’t understand how the public is supposed to reach consensus via focus groups on “the middle road” for airport operations at SMO without being given any information as to possible “middle road” options, such as “best practices” at other airports.

c) Continue pursuing implementation of “standard” runway safety areas at SMO.

d) Continue working with other agencies to develop toxicity standards for ultrafine particles, with the goal of protecting residents who are impacted by jet operations at SMO. Explore using airport revenue to fund studies in this area.

e) Take measures to protect the safety and health (air pollution, lead emissions, partially burned jet fuel residue, and noise) of children at Clover Park (especially the Tot Lot, which is separated from parked, taxiing, and departing jets only by a chain-link fence), Airport Park, the newly approved Santa Monica Business Park child care center which will be adjacent to the airport, and the child care center in Marine Park.   

f) Continue working with flight school operators to reduce the impact of their operations on residents in Santa Monica, Ocean Park, Venice, Mar Vista, and West Los Angeles. Inform the public in writing of progress in this area since the Aug. 29, 2011 student pilot crash.

g) Continue to limit the number of flight schools at SMO due to the impact on residents of both Santa Monica and Los Angeles.  

h) Continue working with pilots to persuade them to follow the recommended flight paths, unless otherwise directed by air traffic controllers.    

i) Educate departing jet pilots to cross the shoreline before turning north, unless otherwise directed by air traffic controllers.

j) Respond to residents’ WebTrak complaints.

k) Report on both the number and the categories of residents’ complaints at the monthly Airport Commission meetings. 

l) Explore the possibility (1) of expanding the voluntary departure curfew hours, and (2) of encouraging arriving jet pilots to also honor the voluntary departure curfew (11 p.m. to 7 a.m.). For residents, being awoken out of a sound sleep by extremely loud and intrusive reverse thrusters is no more fun at 6 a.m. than it is at 1 a.m. 

Does that sound like vigorous lobbying to shut SMO down? While the editorial writer may find the lack of diversity on the Airport Commission troubling, we find the lack of fact checking on the part of the Daily Press even more troubling.

 

This column was written by the Board of Directors of Friends of Sunset Park. For more information on the neighborhood group, go to www.friendsofsunsetpark.org

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