CITY HALL — Pro-airport activists are backing a ballot initiative that would reduce City Council’s ability to control the future of the Santa Monica Airport but council may add an item of its own to the ballot.

Council voted unanimously to have city officials craft a proposed amendment to City Charter that would protect its ability to manage the future of the airport but would require voters to approve any “significant changes in the use of the land.”

The current petition, filed by three residents, also addresses development but requires major changes of any kind to go before a public vote.

Three councilmembers, Pam O’Connor, Terry O’Day, and Kevin McKeown presented the idea.

“I’ve been told that some of the people out circulating the petitions going door to door are saying that the measure they’re circulating is a measure that the City wants to put on the ballot, which isn’t true,” McKeown said. “So actually that sort of inspired us to think, well what if we do put something on the ballot.”

The current petition is financially backed by the national aviation advocacy group Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). The organization has given $20,000 to the cause of which at least $10,000 has been spent to pay signature gatherers.

The petition is under fire from many local organizations, including at least three neighborhood groups and the city’s largest political party, Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights.

Last week, 11 residents filed a lawsuit against the petition filers and City Hall claiming, among other things, that the petition’s summary itself is inaccurate in its claim that closure of the airport would “likely result in high-density development.”

“If we put something on the ballot it could be clear and transparent and not obfuscate the fact that the current thing being circulated will keep us from being able to manage the airport in a responsible way,” McKeown said.

Santa Monica Airport Association representative Bill Worden spoke during the public portion of the item.

“I think you should realize we’ve done you a favor by setting this up for a vote of the people,” he said.

A second ballot measure would clarify the AOPA ballot measure, McKeown said.

It could, he said, “basically explain to people what they’re voting on, which the currently-circulated measure deliberately does a very bad job of doing, even beyond the fact that it’s being misrepresented by the people who are circulating it.”


Council officially raises trash rates


Trash rates are going up. Council agreed to the idea back in January and made it official Tuesday night.

Rates will rise 3.85 percent for families and 7.25 percent for commercial properties. Homeowners will pay an average monthly bill of $45.87 and businesses will pay $125.33, according to city staff.

It’s the first trash rate hike, aside from annual inflation jumps, since 2006.

The largest landfill in the country, Puente Hills Landfill, closed last year, meaning that City Hall has to drive its trash further and pay more for the service.

Rates for multi-family homes will only rise with inflation because, city officials said, they’ve been carrying the trash tax burden for many years. The approved changes will even things out.

City officials mailed information about the changes to nearly 30,000 businesses and got back 44 written protests regarding the matter.

Councilmember Gleam Davis pointed out that while City Hall’s trash pickup is more expensive than some local municipalities, they provide more services, like compost and bulky item pickups.

Council officially approved the changes unanimously.

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