SMO — A City Council-backed initiative is well behind the aviation industry-backed initiative in the cash race but contributions are picking up.
The Committee for Local Control of Santa Monica Airport Land (CLCSMAL) — the organization formed to raise money in support of an initiative (Measure LC) that would retain council’s control over airport land while requiring a public vote for new development of the land — has raised $26,000, including $10,000 from Jeff Worthe, the developer council selected to pursue development of the Bergamot Station Art Center.
Meanwhile, actor Harrison Ford, of “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” fame, gave nearly $26,000 to a competing initiative backed by proponents of the airport. Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development, which backs the pro-airport initiative, has raised more than $400,000 to date, including Ford’s contribution and nearly $200,000 from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). If the pro-SMO initiative (Measure D) is successful, a public vote would be required before any significant changes could be made to airport land.
Worthe’s contribution to backers of Measure LC (and opponents of Measure D) came last Friday. Worthe Real Estate Group, his company, was selected Tuesday, in a 5 to 1 vote, to move forward with a development that could add a hotel and office space to the art complex.
Ford jumped into the fight in July when he and numerous tenants of the controversial airport filed a complaint with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), challenging the often-disputed end-date of an agreement that dictates who controls its 227 acres.
“He has been an Airport tenant for ten years, basing both fixed-wing (piston and jet) and rotor aircraft in his north-side hangar,” the complaints said of Ford.
Representatives from CLCSMAL have said they expect to be far outspent by the pro-SMO groups but that they hope to raise about $250,000 to be used toward campaigning for Measure LC before the election.
Much of the money raised by the advocated of Measure D has already been spent on the paid signature gatherers who collected enough John Hancocks from registered Santa Monica voters to place the item on the ballot in November.
In addition to Ford and AOPA’s contribution, the measure has received financial support from the National Business Aviation Association ($125,000), Santa Monica Air Center ($10,332), and The Santa Monica Airport Association ($10,000).
In addition to Worthe’s contribution, Measure LC has been backed by council candidate and Planning Commissioner Sue Himmelrich ($1,000).
Residents have long complained about the noise and pollution caused by planes, jets, and helicopters taking off and landing at the airport. Others fear for their safety, noting that the runway is about 300 feet from homes.
Last year, four passengers of a jet were killed when it veered off the runway and crashed into a hangar.
Advocates of the airport claim it would be indispensable in the case of an large-scale emergency. They point to a City Hall-funded study, which found that the airport generates $275 million for local business.