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"Anti-Airport Groups To Congress: Close Santa Monica Airport Control Tower"

Friday, March 8, 2013

Anti-Airport Groups To Congress: Close Santa Monica Airport Control Tower
By Parimal M. Rohit
The Santa Monica (CA) Mirror

Two anti-airport groups have written to the area's federal representatives
in Congress to push for the closure of Santa Monica Airport's (SMO) air
control tower. 

The letter, dated March 3, written on behalf of the Citizens Against Santa
Monica Airport Traffic (CASMAT) and Sunset Park Anti-Airport, Inc., (SPAA)
also sought the cessation of FAA funds to the airport.

Five pages in length, the joint CASMAT-SPAA correspondence was penned just
one day after an estimated $1.2 trillion in federal cuts went into effect
March 1. Also referred to on Capitol Hill as sequestration, the slash in
funding also resulted in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) having to
cut $600 million from its budget.

As part of the $600 million in cuts, the FAA publicly issued a letter
identifying 200 airports where tower closure could take place. One of the
airports listed is SMO.

Sent to Representatives Karen Bass (D-37th District) and Henry Waxman
(D-33rd District), the letter cited several reasons why the federal
government should provide less funding for SMO to the point where it is no
longer operational.

Among the reasons: too close to residential neighborhoods; recent airplane
crashes; new homeowners in the area immediately surrounding SMO who do not
care for the airport; the potential closure of 2,000 feet of runway; and, a
poll where 80 percent of respondents favored airport closure.

The letter also cited Resolution 6296, approved by Santa Monica's City
Council in 1981, which sought to create a policy of seeking closure of SMO
"as soon as possible." 

Finally, both groups contend the airport's operations would be significantly
altered in July 2015 per the expiration of the "1984 Agreement" between City
Hall and the FAA.

In making its case, the two groups requested Bass and Waxman to urge the
Transportation Secretary to "close the SMO control tower and cease
expenditures of FAA funds on SMO."

A second request: do not close airports or towers where those facilities
would benefit the local community.

"We in Santa Monica don't need the jobs or the economic stimulus of a local
airport," the letter stated. "We ask Secretary (Ray) LaHood to recognize
that the FAA has no significant role supporting the local economy here, and
to use FAA resources where they may provide a more positive and noticeable
economic impact."

The third request urged the Transportation Secretary to "recognize community
sentiment" and "side with middle-class homeowners and against an extremely
small number of extremely rich people who are the primary users of SMO."

"There is no scheduled passenger service at SMO and all travel from SMO is
optional," the request continued.

Lastly, both CASMAT and SPAA sought Bass and Waxman to request LaHood "to
recognize long-term trends and use FAA resources where they have a lasting

The overall spirit of the letter: there is little community support for SMO.

"Other airports are very much supported by the community; SMO is not," the
letter stated. "We urge the FAA to leave open other FAA towers and
facilities in preference of SMO, where there is a long history of declining
flight operations and growing community opposition."

Attached to the five-page letter were 12 pages of exhibits, including
relevant entries of the "1984 Agreement" and Resolution 6296. Also attached:
an overhead map of SMO demonstrating how close some residences were to the
runway; a confidence rating of 2012 city council candidates as to who was
more likely to "bring about real change" at SMO.

Waxman represents Santa Monica in Washington, D.C.; Bass is also a Member of
Congress representing Culver City and portions of West Los Angeles near SMO.

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