There are two unique facts about the battle of initiatives that’s cur-
rently raging in Santa Monica.
First, it’s the largest influx of out-of-state money ever invested in
a political contest in Santa Monica history, and our town is 139 years
It’s at $872,000 now, and, given the rate at which it’s piling up, it
could hit a million dollars by Tuesday, November 4, election day.
Second, this is not the sort of political battle Santa Monica wants to
engage in. Our opponents, and they ARE opponents, want to take control
of Santa Monica Airport. Nearly all of them live far from here and their
interests are antithetical to our interests.
That’s bad. What’s worse, much worse, they insist they’re our friends,
on our side, when, in fact, they’re the villains in this costly game.
Put succinctly, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s (AOPA) mea-
sure D, is designed to take control of the Santa Monica Airport and force
the city to continue operating it for their benefit.
It would require voters to pass another ballot measure or measures in
order to change aviation land uses to non-aviation use, including partial
or total closure of the runway. It seems to be designed to maintain the
status quo and to make it extremely difficult for the City to manage the
airport or mitigate noise, air pollution or safety impacts on thousands
of residents in Los Angeles and Santa Monica. And, if the airport were
to close, Measure D would do nothing to prevent development, but would
prevent us from ending dangerous Leaded Avgas sales at Santa Monica
In comparison, CLCSMAL (Committee for Local Control of Santa Monica Air-
port Land) has thus far raised $101,275, all but 2 percent donated by
residents. (as of October 17, 2014)
The sponsoring committee for measure D is named “Santa Monicans for Open
and Honest Development Decisions,” but D is not about development. Here’s
AOPA’s initiative D
(a) Voter approval shall be required before any City decision becomes eff
ective that changes the use of land currently used for the Santa Monica
Municipal Airport and related aviation services to non-aviation purposes,
or that closes or partially closes Santa Monica Municipal Airport. The
term “Voter approval” means a majority of the voters of the City voting
“yes” on a ballot measure approving such a change at a general municipal
election. (b) Unless the voters have approved the closure of the airport
pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, and such decision has become
effective, the City shall continue to operate the Santa Monica Municipal
Airport in a manner that supports its aviation purposes, and shall not
impose additional restrictions on providers of aviation support services
to tenants and airport users that inhibit the sale of fuel or the full
use of aviation facilities.”
The City of Santa Monica’s counter- measure LC s IS about development.
The City’s initiative LC
“If all or part of the Airport is permanently closed to aviation use, no
new development of that land shall be allowed until the voters have app-
roved limits on the uses and development that may occur on the land. How-
ever, this section shall not prohibit the City Council from approving the
following on Airport land that has been permanently closed to aviation
use: the development of parks, public open spaces, and public recreation-
al facilities; and the maintenance of existing cultural, arts and educat-
When the airfield was built nearly a century ago, it was small and simple,
as were the few planes that used it. In fact, a second airfield at Wilshire
and 26th was far busier. Both Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart are
said to have flown in there.
In those days, Clover Field (named for a young Santa Monica flyer who was
killed in World War I) was isolated, virtually alone in what was then
countryside. But the Air Age was underway. Santa Monica’s population grew,
and the Santa Monica Airport grew, too.
An attractive new neighborhood, Sunset Park, rose around the airport. The
Jet Age was underway. Private jets were the new status symbol. Today, jets
come and go all day. Their noise is unbearable. Jet fuels contain pollut-
ants that drop on the neighborhood below. Flight school students fly patt-
erns over the houses all day. In 1982, the newly elected SMRRs made two pro-
mises: to create a farmers’ market and close the airport. Farmers’ markets
flourish today, but the airport is still in business, thanks to the FAA,
which, according to its charter, has absolute control of the sky. Accidents
are more frequent, with planes crashing into houses. The noise is unbear-
able, and pollution proliferates.
Santa Monica’s dedicated Airport Commission has worked for years to find
ways to eliminate the jets and flight schools. The City has tried to close
the airport, but when the federal government returned control of the airport
to the city after World War II, the 1948 Instrument of Transfer included a “perpetuity” clause.
When the City attempted to ban jets in the 1970s, it was sued, lost the suit,
and signed the infamous 1984 Agreement with the FAA, which requires the
city to operate the airport until that agreement ends on July 1, 2015.
Meanwhile, the Airport Commission found that a 35-acre parcel (which includes
the western 2,000 ft of the runway) was returned in a 1949 Quit Claim, which
does not include a perpetuity clause. So the Airport Commission has advised
the City to do the following:
1. Close the 35 acres, which includes 2,000 feet of runway, to aviation uses. Currently too short for jet landings by FAA standards, the closure would make
the runway much shorter.
2. Stop selling jet fuel, which several local airports in the Los Angeles bas-
in have already done.
3. Refuse to renew leases to aviation-related businesses when their leases
expire in 2015.
Those three steps would eliminate the jets and the flight schools and restore
the serenity and safety of the nearby neighborhoods.
The night the plan was reviewed by the City Council, speakers included resi-
dents and members of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, (AOPA) the
industry lobbying group from Washington, DC, which claimed that this was a
scam on the part of the City and developers to replace the airport with a large development. According to them, the airport generated millions of dollars ann-
ually for the City, and its loss would seriously impact Santa Monica taxpayers
of the city. In fact, according to the City Manager, airport income matches that
of a midsized shopping mall.
The speakers went on to say if the City approved these three changes, the AOPA
would move to stop them.
The City Council directed staff to bring them options for partially or totally closing the airport by the end of this year.
The next day, the AOPA’s lobbyists filed its intent to qualify an initiative
to prevent ANY changes at the airport. They paid signature gatherers as much
as $20 a signature to qualify the initiative for the ballot. Measure D would change the City Charter to prohibit any changes to the Airport unless they were approved by the voters.
If D, which must stand for “draconian,” passes, the City Council would have to
renew leases to the businesses that are causing the current problems. Further,
it could not raise rents, but would be forced to continue to lease at sub-market rates, causing an annual budget deficit. In addition, the City could not stop
selling jet fuel or leaded fuel for the prop planes.
In other words, the City and its residents could do nothing to ameliorate the increasingly dangerous hazards that now afflicted them and their West L.A. neigh-
The Council ordered staff to prepare a competing initiative: LC (local control).
The propaganda distributed by “Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development Decisions” claims our City Council is lying to us and is planning to build a
huge Playa Vista-style development on the airport land. Of course, Measure LC actually prevents any such development, which is why the normally polite League
of Women Voters refers Measure D as “D for Deception.”
There are also some serious questions about the D people’s definition of Voter Approval. The initiative says, “Voter approval means a majority of the voters
of the City voting ‘yes on the ballot measure approving a change in a general municipal election.” There are about 62,000 registered voters in Santa Monica.
A majority would be 31,001. In Santa Monica’s 139 years, only one election
drew that many votes, and they didn’t all vote the same way. The operative phrase
in D is “of the City.” “Voter approval” generally means a majority of the
voters who voted on the issue. If that definition holds, no change will ever
be occur, because as the number of registered voters grows, so does this requirement. Also, this stipulates that such a vote must be on a general muni-
cipal election – and they only occur every two years.
The D people’s latest ploy is to invite their nationwide association of pilots
to fly into Santa Monica on election day, go to the polls and try to convince undecided voters to vote their way.
At bottom, Measure D is a thoroughly delusional effort by the aviation indust-
ry to take control of the Santa Monica Airport and force the City to run it to benefit the industry – at the expense of Santa Monica, its residents, its
health and safety, and, indeed, its future.
Here’s contact information: Committee For Local Control of Santa Monica Airport
Lands (yes on LC, no on D).
If you’d like to help defeat Measure D or want further information, the Committee
for Local Control of Santa Monica Airport Lands (yes on LC, no on D) web site can
be accessed at http://itsourland.org. or email at firstname.lastname@example.org