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"Voters agree to leave fate of Santa Monica Airport to City Council"



Thursday, November 6, 2014

Voters agree to leave fate of Santa Monica Airport to City Council
Westside Today


In a step that could move Santa Monica Airport closer to closure, voters
agreed to allow the City Council to make decisions regarding the fate of the
airfield and rejected an effort by aviation groups to require a public vote
on any effort to shutter the facility or restrict aviation activity.

Although city officials are still in a power struggle with the federal
government over the future of the 227-acre airport, passage of Measure LC on
Tuesday's ballot gave the City Council a vote of confidence from residents.

Members of the Santa Monica City Council are considering closing all or part
of the airport and have already implemented or want to enact measures to
restrict airplane traffic, such as limiting fuel use and noise levels.

Under Measure LC, if the airport is indeed closed, the land can only be
developed into public parks, recreational facilities or open space. If any
other types of development are planned, the city will be required to seek
voter approval.

The proponents of Measure LC said noise and air pollution created by the
Santa Monica Airport has increased by 350 percent over the years. They also
said 26 airplanes affiliated with the airport have crashed, resulting in 36
deaths, since 2000.

While passing LC, voters also defeated Measure D, under which any plans to
completely or partially close the airport or to restrict activity would have
required a public vote. Backers of the measure contended that city officials
want to put high-rises or other dense housing development on the property,
which would increase traffic and air pollution.

They also argued that any proposal to close or limit activity at the airport
would affect 175 businesses and 1,500 jobs. The airport also injects $250
million into the economy each year, according to Measure D proponents.

Backers of Measure LC argued, however, that the legal language of Measure D
would have prevented city officials from controlling airport activity, such
as limiting fuel use and the frequency or hours of take-offs and landings.

Measure D was heavily backed by aviation groups, including the Aircraft
Owners and Pilots Association and the National Business Aviation
Association, which together donated at least $540,000 of the $824,000 raised
by proponents.

Actor Harrison Ford, a noted aviation enthusiast, contributed $25,887 to the
Measure D campaign.

City officials are still trying to overturn an agreement the city reached
with the federal government in 1948 - when the airport was returned to Santa
Monica after World War II - that restricts the land to being used as an
airport. City officials contend that the city bought the land in the 1920s
to use as parkland.

The airport does not offer scheduled air service but is used for flight
training, recreational and private transport and other purposes.

   Post your opinion on this story in the CAA General Aviation Forum
http://www.californiaaviation.org/dcfp/dcboard.php

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