Mr. Rigdon’s remarks in Wednesday’s Your Column Here illustrate fairly well the long standing misconceptions about the Santa Monica Municipal Airport-historical Cloverfield.
Although his dates for the airport are about a decade too young, he misses the essential point and that is, for all intents and purposes, the airport has always been here and people who chose to live near it have always known it was there. Also, just like aviation itself, the succession of tenants on the field have been cleaner, quieter, and safer than their predecessors. The author just gets it backwards.
The author’s interpretation of the Congressional Surplus Property Act is bizarre. The people of the United States invested heavily in the airport as part of the successful effort to win WWII. The contract (1948 Instrument Of Transfer) to give these improvements to the citizens of Santa Monica and help build America’s civil aviation infrastructure specified that the property was to be used as an airport “forever”. The City understood that then, but now disagrees with their own actions in 1948 and has filed a court case to try to nullify that act of congress.
Documents in the FAA archive delineating the uses of Santa Monica Airport as a reliever airport and base for emergency relief go back at least to the 1970’s. It’s not a new idea. The City’s current disaster response plans call the airport “critical and essential”.
The author seems to have difficulty grasping the analogy to the inter-state highway system as part of America’s transportation infrastructure. There are certainly “No Trespassing” signs at the flight line, but then you cannot walk on the freeways either! And anyone can fly who bothers to get a pilot’s license, just like anyone may drive who bothers to get a driver’s license.
There are no “crop dusters” at SMO.
It is a simple irrefutable fact that the protective airspace connected with the airport prevents tall structures from being built within a 3.5 mile radius by Santa Monica or Los Angeles regardless of any zoning they may put in place. It also forces commercial traffic using LAX to stay well above the city streets.
Santa Monica airport is quieter than anytime in its 100-year history because of aggressive noise monitoring and because modern aircraft are quieter and have a smaller acoustic footprint. One need only look at the monthly reports presented at the Airport Commission to see this.
Frankly, I would like to see the citation for the author’s quote “without regard to consequences or common sense” with regard to the FAA’s mission statement. I can’t seem to find it in government documents anywhere.
The City’s current trouble with the FAA is of its own making. The city has refused to give leases to airport tenants, has neglected to collect rents that are owed, has proposed to undertake fueling operations for which it is no way qualified and if carried out would endanger all of us on the ground and in the air. The City does not allow landlords to behave in this contumelious and haphazard manner, but they seem content to engage in these pernicious practices towards tenants themselves.
Defiance of Federal law generally gets you an interview with the Federal Government. That is what is happening now.
By Bill Worden
Bill Worden is Chairman of the Board, Santa Monica Airport Association