There’s a deceptively short agenda for the Aug. 23 City Council meeting, but council watchers should expect a long night because the main event for the evening is a discussion of closing the Santa Monica Airport.

Council will debate a resolution that specifies their intent to close the airport and outlines steps that can be taken in support of that goal.

The proposed resolution declares it will be Council’s policy to close SMO on or before July 1, 2018 or as soon as legally permitted. It also calls for the city manager to implement steps to prepare for closure including the city assuming control for some or all operations on the site.

The 227-acre airport was the subject of dueling ballot measures in 2014. Measure LC prevailed and calls for a park on the property. In addition, City Hall has picked closing the airport as one of its five strategic goals for the city at large.

If passed, the resolution lists several actions as next steps including: begin the park planning process, investigate whether certain fractional jet operators are impermissibly operating as scheduled airlines, submit an application to FAA which would alter the Airport runway by removing a portion from aviation use, tightening noise ordinances, transition aircraft hangar uses from lease agreements to permits, eliminate lead fuel, enhance security and create a City of Santa Monica Fixed Based Operation.

While the City may choose to pass a resolution specifying its intent to close the airport, its ability to actually take action will be determined in the court system.

A Federal lawsuit is pending to settle the question of airport land ownership. The City contends the land was surrendered by the federal government and that the City has absolute control of the land. The Federal Government contends the City is required to operate the airport in perpetuity. The trial is set for next August.

Santa Monica recently lost a case filed with the FAA regarding the city’s obligations to continue operations at SMO. The City is expecting to appeal that decision to the federal courts soon.

Santa Monica tourism marketing district renewal

Council will be asked to verify petitions from more than 50 percent of the hotel businesses and extend the term of the marketing district.

Santa Monica Tourism and Travel markets the city to tourists. The organization is funded primarily through an assessment levied on local hotels. That assessment district is set to expire in 2017 and Council is being asked to extend the term for nine and a half years.

According to the staff report, SMTT’s efforts have expanded international awareness of the city and had a measurable impact on the collection of Transit Occupancy Tax paid by visitors staying in hotels.

“Over the last ten years, transient occupancy taxes (TOT) collected by the City have increased at a compound average annual growth rate of 7.8 percent,” said the report. “The strong 3 of 6 growth rate of TOT revenue can be correlated with the success of SMTT’s tourism marketing efforts and the associated funding provided by the SMTMD.”

Tourism taxes support the City’s General Fund and are used to pay for basic services.

Council meetings are held at City Hall, 1685 Main St. Closed session items begin at 5:30 p.m.

editor@www.smdp.com

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...