Santa Monica Airport


I knew it. Years ago, during one of our several Santa Monica Airport kerfuffles, whenever the first one was after I started writing this column in 2011, I said to myself: this issue won’t be settled for many years, and it’s a very deep and messy can of worms that you want to avoid as long as possible.

I think the can of worms is the kind where you take off the lid and they all  come flying out at you, yaaahhh!!! — intended to induce a coronary. Because that’s what my last column did, for my life. Not the coronary, but the quick, extreme and massive reaction.

It’s an emotional issue in SM, and it seems most people have an opinion and a bit of information. Not quite enough, though. Heck, I don’t have enough. There are people who have been working on this, city planners, pilots, parks specialists, on both sides, since the last time Magic and Kareem ruled LA.

Lots of folks have written to me or interacted on social media. I’ve sat down and talked with some. I’ve seen documents. I haven’t changed my mind.

To (try to) be very clear: I have not been in favor of keeping the airport. I supported and voted for LC. To me the biggest reason is safety. Even though no one on the ground has been killed yet, I think it’s inevitable when an airport is so closely surrounded by homes.

But I have also sunk to new levels of cynicism about the power of the greedy. That 227 acres is worth billions, too much to let the vultures be stopped by any concern for the future of SM and its residents, nor by any promises or even laws, and our City Council has a lousy track record in that area. It may be simplistic but my solution for now to prevent a Century City II from rising there: keep the airport.

For now. It’s a long way to 2029.


How can the esteemed LA Times be 


Yes, esteemed, for all you casual observer naysayers. It has fallen a little but it is rising again, under new ownership. 44 Pulitzers since 1942 (about even with the Washington Post), most recent in 2016 (great columnist Steve Lopez a finalist that year, also in 2018 — give him one!). Went into a slump with severe economic times for print journalism, many deep staff cuts, lost some great people especially in the arts, but new owner billionaire surgeon Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong returned it to local control after 18 years when he bought it from the Chicago Tribune group last year for half a billion, and may likely be its savior.

“I’ve not gone into this transaction from a financial basis at all. There’s an opportunity to make a major impact on the nation,” Soon-Shiong said. “LA Times is one of the three newspapers that can have a national and international impact.” Trump approached him about being an adviser but they didn’t exactly see eye to eye on the standards of journalism.

Here’s the deal, doc. Attention to detail. Journalism is all about credibility. That’s why real news outfits immediately correct and apologize when they make a mistake, and Faux News doubles down.

But when someone on your staff in charge of email news blasts continually blabs the “reveal” in the subject line about events many readers are DVR recording for their later enjoyment, thus completely ruining the events for them if they even glance at their list of emails, that makes you and the paper look like yokels who just moved to town.

This is LA. Hollywood. Never heard of “spoiler alert” or “reveal”?

Instead of “Breaking news: Virginia wins NCAA men’s basketball title” — which they sent out just before 9 p.m. Monday night, just as I returned home and was settling into my Barcalounger, so looking forward to the Big Game — how about “NCAA men’s basketball title decided”? Or duh, skip “‘Green Book’ snags Best Picture Oscar,” make it “Best Picture Oscar awarded” or even, like the SM Patch, “ALERT: Academy Awards Live Update: Ali Wins Best Supporting Actor” — my eyes won’t go farther than “ALERT: Academy Awards…”

They’ve been doing it for years and the couple times I called and tried to find the right person to speak to, I couldn’t, and the person I spoke to clearly thought I was loony. But I don’t think I’m the only one who glances often at their email list to see if there’s anything important or immediate.

And by the way, Dr. PS-S, since you are part owner of the LA Lakers as well, do you think you could do something about that disaster? Please? Absolute WORST record in the NBA for the last six years total.

The email subject line thing is so obvious and easily fixed, the fact that no one has changed it does make me think that small part of your LA Times operation really is —


Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 33 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at

Join the Conversation


  1. Respectfully to Charles, I grew up in Ocean Oark during the era when an entire community was bulldozed, the residents promised to be able to return. Of the estimated 300 households displaced by the Del Webb built project, a scant few could afford to ever return.
    The idea that the demolition of SMO will not result in “century city ll” is wishful thinking at best. There are financial forces at play that coveted the land for their own profits and the very people who advocated for the closure played right in to the hands of the scheme.

    Stupid is as stupid does for not using the Ocean Park experience to predict what comes next at the airport and who does not have the where with all to live there.

  2. No one should accept your “stupid” name calling (likely why you don’t use your real name). What those of us that have fought to control land use on our airport land have done is pass Measure LC (52 of 55 precincts voted YES) that only allows parks and open space to replace airport uses. It’s LOCKED in our City Charter, can’t be changed by any City Council or City Manager. Only another vote, and LC beat $1 mil. from Big Washington Aviation lobbies while rejecting their Deceptive Measure D.

    So if folks REALLY want to prevent development of ‘Century City” or Century City-lite,” get out there and demand Measure LC be implemented. Demand that the Parks Master Plan contains STRONG language to start planning before 2029 closure for a great park. Demand our Sustainability Plan includes airport closure and current benefits of a shorter runway (thanks to LC), and make sure all 7 City Council members know at every step that they must do the same, and not support any development other than LC’s parks and open spaces.

    Perhaps we will face developers and airport zealots together (like the Times Op Ed that started this mess) down the road. But don’t just hand them a victory of sorts. Make a stand against development, and support LC and airport closure. “Keeping it open” because you think the worse case will happen is such a cop out.

  3. Too bad Charles has given into his cynicism and can no longer see the noise, pollution and threat of catastrophic jet crashes that diminishes the quality of life for thousands who live near SMO. SMO an outmoded industrial facility that serves the very few privileged users and negatively impacts the thousands who live in Santa Monica, Venice, MDR, Del Rey, Palms, Rancho Park, and WLA.

    Santa Monica residents voted in 2014 for Measure LC and they want SMO closed. They voted limits with Measure LC so that the land can _ONLY_ be used as a Park. Those limits on development are now the law regardless of what any cynic says. Enough with this nonsense. The time has come to plan for a much needed GREAT PARK that can be used by EVERYONE and not just a privileged few.

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