By Chris Thrasher

Today I learned that the Typhoon restaurant located at Santa Monica Airport is finally closing.

It is a tragedy that the City of Santa Monica is willing to go to these lengths to strangle the airport.

This time, they have succeeded in shuttering a local restaurant which has been in business for over 25 years.  All because they cannot accept the fact that the City of Santa Monica will not and cannot close the airport.

The behavior of the City reminds me very much of that of a toddler throwing a temper tantrum when he/she doesn’t get their way.

The City has increased the rents on businesses at the airport in amounts far in excess of that which is permitted by state and federal law.  The City has demonstrated its intent to ignore the law, the Grant assurances and the Agreements which it entered into lawfully so many decades ago.

The residents of Santa Monica should be outraged a the antics of the City Council, City Manager and Mr. Nelson Hernandez for one simple reason;  They have put the City in a very dangerous and precarious position.  If the City is not very careful with what it does next, the City may find itself removed from all airport operational authority.  It has happened before in other places and it will happen here in Santa Monica if the City doesn’t reverse course and I mean now.

In Indiana, a city council was so hell bent on closing an airport that they screamed about property value decrease so much that the court finally declared all of the neighboring property to be “distressed” and the end result was it was the neighbors who paid the price.  The declaration by the court tanked the property values overnight, costing each neighbor decades worth of mortgage payments in equity that simply disappeared the moment the properties were declared as distressed.

Such could be the case here in Santa Monica.  The noisemakers at the end of the runway are so focused upon closing the airport at virtually any cost, that haven’t stopped to consider the possibilities of such an action.

The list of possibilities that could happen in the event the Class Delta airspace belonging currently to KSMO, is well covered so I won’t revisit them all here.  Rather I will simply pose a question:

What do you suppose will happen to the property values if the Delta goes away and the big airliners start to come in from the coast at 2500 feet instead of the 6000 they currently use?  It’s a safe bet that the property values of much of Santa Monica will absolutely tank.

The businesses at KSMO like Typhoon, Atlantic, American Flyers and others are a protective shield against the scenario above.  The City aims to throw off that protective blanket and I don’t believe they have thought the matter through well enough before they began their current campaign to make it so expensive to do business at KSMO that nobody could possibly afford to do so.

Remember Santa Monica residents, sometimes, quite often in fact, the grass only looks greener on the other side.  Sometimes we get to that other side only to discover how much we want to go back again.  I honestly believe Santa Monica Airport is one of these times.  Do you honestly believe the FAA is going to simply give up and allow the airport to be closed.  Even if they were to do that, they will attach so many conditions to closure that it simply won’t be worth it for the City.

Getting rid of Typhoon is something that the City believes will help them attain their ultimate goal of airport closure but the reality is I believe, that thinning the protective blanket that having businesses at KSMO provides is a very precarious position to put the City of Santa Monica in.  It’s just not going to go as the City expects and unfortunately, it is the residents who are going to be stuck paying the bill that the current City Council is running up.

It’s time to elect a new council that follows the law instead of the developer money.  What Santa Monica needs is “local control” but to an extent that permits the City to make a fair and reasonable profit from the airport.  The FAA and the Courts are simply not going to permit closure.  That much is certain at this point and doing things like tripling rents, serving eviction notices, hiring advisors to intimidate businesses into leaving and a slew of other shady practices is only going to anger the hornets next that is the FAA.

Are we sure we want to anger this nest?  Others have tried in the past and the results have been consistently near catastrophic for the cities and municipalities that have done so.

Chris Thrasher is a flight instructor at Santa Monica Airport