The last dozen years have been hard on dem-
ocracy – tea party people and billionaires
savaging the Bill of Rights and wreaking ha-
voc with voters’ rights. Republicans in Con-
gress determining that poor people are their
own fault even as Wall Street wizards’ in-
comes soar to obscene levels.

It’s been a particularly bumpy ride for San-
ta Monica.Though residents found major flaws
in the Hines mega-project from the moment it
was unveiled, and expressed their objections
over and over again at countless meetings
and workshops, the majority of the members
of the City Council, whose only real task is
representing the residents, ignored them and
voted for the Hines project.It was probably
not a coincidence that all four of the Coun-
cil members who voted for Hines had accepted
campaign contributions from developers’ Pol-
itical Action Committees.

Angered by what they saw as the Council maj-
ority’s betrayal of them and their town,res-
idents immediately adopted a plan devised by
Armen Melkonians –,a form
of direct democracy, and collected more than
twice the number of petition signatures need-
ed in less than the requisite 30 days.

At the end of last week, the City Clerk con-
firmed that the number of valid signatures
was sufficient to require the Council to
reverse its previous vote for the Hines pro-
ject and reject it, or put it on the Novem-
ber ballot for local voters to okay or re-

But a new assault on residents’ autonomy is
already underway. In the face of residents’
desire to shut down a portion of the Santa
Monica Airport or the the entire airport and
replace it with a park, the aviation indus-
try, led by the 400,000-member Aircraft Own-
ers and Pilots’ Association (AOPA) is coll-
ecting residents’ signatures in support of
an initiative that would require any alter-
ation in or diminution of the existing air-
port to be approved by a residents’ vote.

An overwhelming number of AOPA members are
not residents of Santa Monica and don’t
share residents’ interests, concerns and
problems, but are attempting to manipulate
residents in order to maintain the status
quo at the airport.

In order to win residents’ hearts, minds
and allegiance, the pilots are claiming
that the City wants to shut down the air-
port in order to make way for a huge com-
mercial development. It’s not true, of
course. Under pressure from residents,the
City went on the record at a recent Council
meeting, confirming its interest in a low
key park, not a big, busy shopping center.

In fact, residents have been trying to shut
the airport down for decades.In 1982, when
brand-new Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights
candidates ran for City Council seats,they
said they wanted to open a Farmers’ Market
and close the airport. But the Federal Avi-
ation Administration (FAA) has consistent-
ly blocked any effort to shut the airport
down. Citing high levels of pollution, con-
stant noise, accidents – some fatal, airport
neighbors in Los Angeles and Venice as well
as Santa Monica continue to agitate for

Apparently, the flying business people’s
paid signature collectors are hanging ar-
ound the supermarkets and trying to sell
the line that the City wants to close the
airport in order to build a major commer-
cial development. Don’t listen, and don’t

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