Backers of a pro-Santa Monica Airport initiative that would allow voters to decide the future of the facility deliver petitions to City Hall on Tuesday. (Daniel Archuleta daniela@www.smdp.com)

YOUR COLUMN HERE — Santa Monica voters want to deal with facts when they are deciding on ballot issues but it seems to me that anti-airport people are either not aware of the true facts or are purposely obscuring them. Two examples:
The first is the attempt to cast the pro-airport Measure D as being a tool of outside forces (those dreaded lobbyists) rather than a Santa Monica initiative. It’s true the pro-airport Measure D is now getting some assistance from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) but the save-the-airport movement started long before AOPA ever got involved. It was started by local residents and pilots recognizing the value of the airport to the local community and to the southern California area.
Folks, it’s not lobbyists who are behind Measure D. It’s us, Santa Monicans. Airport-closers want to ignore the fact that Santa Monica voters, over 15,000 of them, signed the pro-airport petition that started this all off. The majority were not pilots; they were simply residents who value the airport as an airport, as a generator of $275 million dollars a year that goes into the local economy, as the hub of nearly 1,500 jobs associated with the airport businesses (177 of them) and as a block against more unwise development in this city. When I, an unpaid volunteer for the pro-airport petition, asked neighbors to sign the petition, not one of the signatures I received was from a pilot; the signers were just airport supporters who live here. It seems to me that over 15,000 signers of the petition reflect the deeply felt support for the airport that exists in our community.
Why would local pilots and residents not ask AOPA to help? It would have been foolish not to ask. In fact, there are 6,000 members of AOPA who live within 25 miles of Santa Monica Airport (SMO). They have a stake in the airport just as much as the local residents. Of course they are not all Santa Monica residents and will not affect the vote but they are committed to the continued existence of SMO. The local pro-airport group behind Measure D is a combination of concerned local residents, local pilots and, now, AOPA.
Another trick: the airport-closers are trying to convince voters that there is a choice between an airport and a park. You want facts? The following is a direct quote from a report to the Mayor and City Council dated April 30, 2013 from Marvin Pastucha, Director of Public Works and Marsha Moutrie, Santa Monica City Attorney:
From page 33:
“Many Airport neighbors who favor closure advocate creating a large park or dedicating the land to other passive use. But, the City simply does not have, and will likely not have the General Fund resources to create and maintain such a very low density use of this valuable property, particularly in this post-redevelopment era. Based on recent City experience, the design, demolition, and construction costs of a large park would far exceed $50 Million and might well be multiples of that: and yearly operational costs would be in the millions. And, City residents, as a whole, might be reluctant to pay the huge cost of a large park located on the City’s border with Los Angeles, which would be heavily used by Los Angeles residents. Thus, if the City fights for and finally achieves closure, the Airport land, or much of it, will likely be redeveloped. This would be a very significant change because the current Airport is a very low-density use of the land. Therefore, one likely eventual consequence of Airport closure and redevelopment of the land would be significant development and attendant impacts, such as increased traffic.”
This could not be any clearer — a park is not a possibility. Trying to get people to vote against the pro-airport Measure D by using this trick seems to me to be unethical. If Tongva Park (6 acres) cost nearly $43,000,000 without considering yearly maintenance costs, one can only imagine what 227 acres would cost. Martin Pastucha and Marsha Moutrie say it is not going to happen. Fact.
I end with a thought. There are some people who are saying that even if you don’t like the airport in its current configuration, you should still vote for the pro-airport, anti-development Measure D. Why? Because that would keep the decision about the airport property always in the hands of the people, not in the hands of the City Council who have been shown to be working hand-in-glove with developers. Measure D will keep all airport decisions in the hands of voters; the competing measure means Less Control for voters. Whom do you trust: yourself as a voter or the 7-member, developer-centric City Council? There is no question how I will vote: for the pro-airport, anti-development Measure D.

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