CITY HALL – The City Attorney’s Office announced a $39.5 million settlement with the Boeing Corporation to clean toxins out of local groundwater left by the former Douglas Aircraft Co.
According to Assistant City Attorney Joe Lawrence, Boeing will pay $150,000 within the first 30 days of the settlement. The remainder will be paid out over the course of the next 10 years.
The money will pay for cleaning up the contaminated groundwater from the Olympic well, which was dirtied by activities at the former Douglas Aircraft site at Santa Monica Airport.
The Douglas Aircraft Co. was a major employer in Santa Monica during World War II. It moved to Long Beach after City Hall refused to lengthen the runway in 1959 and was eventually bought by a company that came to be known as McDonnell Douglas. That company was bought by Boeing in 1997.
City officials seek ‘third way’
Opponents of the Santa Monica Airport gathered to protest recommendations by city officials to study options for the future of the airport that excluded outright closure.
The proposed topics for study, outlined in a report by consultant MIG that was developed out of 624 hours of public debate, represented a middle way between maintaining the status quo of operations at SMO and closing the airport down, said Martin Pastucha, director of Public Works.
“In between those two options there is a vast valley. We do not know what resides in that valley,” Pastucha said.
Those topics will become the basis for the third phase of a three-part process to examine the future for the airport, which the City Council approved Tuesday night.
It did not please residents of Santa Monica and West Los Angeles, who felt that the MIG report represented something different than what staff put forward.
In their minds, most of the 312 people who participated in the three months of community workshops on which the report was based advocated for some level of change at the airport property, be it a reduction in the number of jets that fly into SMO each day or the operations of the six flight schools that lease space at SMO.
Those changes would help reduce noise and pollution that bother neighbors and improve safety, all of which were top concerns of speakers.
With that in mind, Councilmember Kevin McKeown and Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis put forward two additional areas of study: closure in the face of a failure to reduce the impacts of the airport and a deeper look into health impacts with federal, state and private research organizations.
The council voted unanimously to accept those changes and move forward into the third phase of the visioning process.
One new option put forward in the staff report was to pay flight schools to leave SMO and fly out of another airport.
Residents have specifically pointed to student pilots as safety hazards, and believe they are also responsible for maneuvers that send planes in what they describe as endless loops over the neighborhoods.
At the beginning of public comment, McKeown pointedly asked Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl – who represents West Los Angeles communities who speak against the flight schools – if Los Angeles would be willing to pony up some cash to help pay for those subsidies.
He called it an “intriguing option.”
“I’m happy to sit down with you and work it out if we can,” Rosendahl said.
The city of Los Angeles is struggling with closing a $238 million budget shortfall.