Monday, March 10, 2014

Santa Monica Municipal Airport (KSMO), California

Opinion: Anti-airport commission fumbles 

By Bill Bauer on March 9, 2014

What on Earth were they thinking? I’m talking about the Santa Monica (anti) Airport Commission?

After a federal judge tossed out City Hall’s lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over future uses at the 227-acre Santa Monica Airport (SMO) property last month, “The Airport Commission voted 4 to 1 to send a recommendation to City Council that would halt the sale of aviation fuel and restrict the rental of airport property to any tenants other than art studios and those doing light manufacturing.” They also suggested raising all rents to market rate, reported the Santa Monica Daily Press (“Airport Commission recommends starving SMO,” March 3, Pg. 1)

If I were an aero-related tenant at the airport, I’d be looking into suing City Hall if this recommendation is acted on by City Council. I would think that adoption of the commission’s recommendations would constitute discrimination against aviation-related tenants and a threat to private business and livelihoods.

On Dec. 9, 2011, this newspaper editorialized after real-estate executive and Sunset Park resident David Goddard (now chairman) was appointed to the Airport Commission (“Airport Commission’s lack of diversity is troubling.”) and stated that he “had a strong anti-airport agenda.”

The Daily Press pointed out that Goddard was a member of the Friends of Sunset Park neighborhood group which had been “vigorously lobbying elected officials to shut SMO down or at least extremely curtail operations there” and noted that Goddard was encouraging residents to fill out a survey from the anti-SMO Community Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic (CASMAT).

The five person commission is rife with airport haters — four of whom live near SMO — who want to see the airport closed. They seem to only represent a select few anti-airport residents in West Los Angeles and Sunset Park instead of the community as a whole.

The editorial continued, “There was a time when the Airport Commission was comprised of representatives from the aviation community, merchants operating around the airport and residents in both Sunset Park and elsewhere. It was truly representative of the community. Right now the commission is not. It represents one view — those who feel SMO is a danger to the public because it lacks proper runway safety areas and contributes to air pollution.”

Suggesting shutting down businesses and terminating hundreds of airport-related jobs is despicable. Chairman Goddard, Vice Chair Peter Donald, Steven Mark, Suzanne Paulson and Lael Rubin were all appointed by the City Council. Nevertheless, council should condemn their repulsive recommendation on no uncertain terms.

The future for the airport will almost certainly include aviation uses. Therefore, decisions on its future must produce results that are best for all stakeholders including airport neighbors. Unfortunately, this bunch of political appointees has demonstrated they’re not up to the challenge.


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