The City of Santa Monica is eliminating 73 aircraft tie-downs in a six-acre parcel of the Santa Monica airport to make way for a potential expansion of Airport Park.

Only 32 of the 73 tie-downs, essentially parking spots for aircraft, are currently in use and current tenants will be offered space in other parts of the airport where space is available. Tenants have until March 15 to vacate their spaces.

According to Nelson Hernandez, senior advisor to the City Manager, the City is giving tenants 45 days to move, more than is legally required, to maintain a neighborly relationship with those individuals who are losing their spaces.

“Our action is permissible because effective July 1, 2015 the southeast parcel is no longer subject to requirements by FAA that the property is exclusively for aviation purposes,” he wrote in an email. “By clearing the property of the 73 aircraft tie-downs and using the land for a much needed expansion of Airport Park, the City will take an important step in regaining local control of our land and improving the quality of life for our residents.”

Santa Monica regained control over the six-acre lot last year. A 1984 agreement between the City and the FAA had mandated that parcel of land be used to accommodate aircraft; but with the expiration of the agreement, City Hall is able to repurpose the site along with a separate six-acre lot opposite the current Museum of Flying. The parcel covered by the eviction notice is adjacent to the airport dog park.

The notification follows the recent hiring of landscape design firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios (RCH) to help design the park expansion.

Council approved $211,200 (plus a 10-percent contingency) at their Jan. 26 meeting to pay for a feasibility study and concept design. While tie-downs have only been eliminated from one of the parcels, the recently approved study will cover a potential 12-acre park expansion into both lots.

Staff will return at a later date to present the results of the feasibility study and a recommendation to award the design portion of the agreement.

Park supporters praised the hiring decision and said the project is a tangible result of 2014’s Measure LC that retained city control over the airport while requiring that aviation land must be used for park purposes unless the voters approve a different use.

“The Santa Monica Airport2Park Foundation is extremely pleased to congratulate the City of Santa Monica on its hiring of Rios Clementi Hale Studios to oversee public outreach and the design process for the 12-acre expansion of Airport Park,” said Neil Carrey, president of the foundation in a press release. “We look forward to hearing from and working with our friend Mark Rios and his colleagues in the creation of a facility that will begin to fulfill the promise of Measure LC and inspire us to complete the job when the City can confirm its rights to control all airport land.”

In their statement, the foundation said RCH has worked on Santa Monica’s Euclid and Douglas Park and designed “iconic parks” at locations including Los Angeles Grand Park, Rancho Cienega Recreation Center and the L.A. Zoo Event and Play Space.

Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...