From:Board of Directors, Friends of Sunset
To:FOSP members
Re:Opposition to the Airport-Related Ballot

Signature gatherers have begun collecting
petition signatures to qualify an Airport-
related initiative for the November 2014
ballot. Santa Monica Airport lies within
the boundaries of the Sunset Park neighbor-
hood. As the city-recognized neighborhood
organization for this area, the Friends
of Sunset Park Board of Directors opposes
this proposed ballot initiative regarding
the future of the Santa Monica Airport,
and urges FOSP members not to sign the pet-

Although supporters of this proposal are
selling it as an “anti-development” ini-
tiative similar to the recent Residocracy-
sponsored petition for a November referen-
dum to stop the large Hines/Bergamot pro-
ject, it seems to be more of a wolf in
sheep’s clothing.

While pretending to protect residents from
large development projects at the Airport,
it’s actually designed to prevent the City
Council from considering any alternative
uses at the Airport, such as shortening the
runway or expanding parks.

The City of Santa Monica owns the 227-acre
Santa Monica Airport property — it was pur-
chased with park bond funds. The 1984 Agree-
ment with the FAA, which ends in 2015, is an
operating agreement, not a lease.The City,
not the pilots, should decide what happens
on the land.

And City Council members publicly stated at
the March 25, 2014 Council meeting that the
City is not planning any large development
projects on the Airport property.

The initiative’s supporters, including the
400,000-member nationwide AOPA (Aircraft
Owners and Pilots Association), can afford
to hire numerous paid signature gatherers
to stand outside Bob’s Market, Albertsons,
and other locations around town. If 9,200
registered Santa Monica voters sign the pe-
petition, and this initiative passes in

1) It would prevent the City Council
from looking at reducing the length of the
runway, and would allow the number of jet
takeoffs and landings over homes and schools,
currently about 13,000 per year out of
about 100,000 total takeoffs and landings)
to continue increasing for the foreseeable

2) It would prevent the City from
expanding parks and playing fields on the
Airport property.

3) It would prevent the City from
bringing current far-below-market-rate
leases up to market rate, forcing the City
to continue subsidizing Airport operations
out of the General Fund.

4) It would prevent the City Council
from making even the slightest change at
the Airport without a ballot measure.

5) Instead, it would maintain the
“status quo” at the Airport in perpetuity
— for the benefit of a few, but at the
expense of many residents in both Santa
Monica and the neighboring communities.

In conclusion, the FOSP Board strongly
urges FOSP members not to sign the peti-
tion that would qualify this Airport-re-
lated initiative for the November 2014


  1. fyi- ballot language:
    The following shall be added to Article VI of the Santa Monica City Charter:

    640. People’s Right to Vote.
    (a) Voter approval shall be required before any City decision becomes effective 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.


  2.  What part of the ballot initiative does FOSP sat would prevent the City from bringing current far-below-market-rate leases up to market rate?

  3. The opinions of these boards can be disregarded by average voters.  These groups only represent a small minority of residents and operate explicitly as real estate lobbying organizations.
    When I attended Zina’s election to the board of my neighborhood Friends of Sunset Park, no more than 70 people attended this vote.  The membership listed on the website has averaged about 500 over the last few years.  However, there are 8,000 registered voters in our, FOSP’s, district, the majority unrepresented by FOSP.  Hence, FOSP membership is less than 1% of voters in my district.  My impression is that members are largely home owners.  I found the FOSP members are well-meaning and sincere, but they act as partisans and lobbyists.  As a result, they are one-sided and have a divisive effect on the community.   On investigation, the other groups mentioned by Zina have the same defects.
    What is at issue is not the ownership of the airport parcel, but the ownership  of the air rights over the airport and the surrounding land from Century City to the Pacific Ocean.  Because of the Santa Monica Airport, building heights are now restricted in this area.  These air rights are now a public asset, owned by every citizen.  If the City Council closes the airport, the ownership of the air rights over the adjacent land will be transferred from the public into the pockets of a handful of land owners and real estate developers, who will pay nothing to the compensate the public for this loss.  This will be a one-time windfall for the rich, and everyone else loses.
    And lose we will.  The studies commissioned by the City estimated that approximately 1,300 working people owe their jobs to the airport operations, both directly and indirectly due to the spending by travelers.  Unlike their customers, the mechanics and pilots who work at the airport are not rich, nor are those who run local businesses near the airport necessarily rich. Perhaps Zina will allow these 1,300, who will lose their jobs, to sleep in our new city park.
    I attended a meeting where the obviously wealthy representative of the Ocean Park Association said, “They [airport workers] can all just move to the desert.”  This callous attitude toward working people permeates OPA, CASMAT, and the other anti-airport lobbyists.  I hope, instead, that our local voters choose to support the jobs of local working people, vote for the AOPA-supported initiative, and oppose the greed of our local One Percenters.

  4. The AOPA-supported Airport initiative is opposed by SMRR, and the FOSP Board position on the initiative is now supported by the boards of three additional city-recognized neighborhood organizations: Santa Monica Mid-City Neighbors, Northeast Neighbors, and the Wilshire-Montana Neighborhood Coalition.

  5. I’m disappointed that the Friends of Sunset Park board feels the need to mischaracterize the proposed ballot initiative in their attempt to prevent the citizens of Santa Monica from having the chance the vote on the future of Santa Monica’s airport.  In particular, the FOSP board letter claims that the initiative “would prevent the City from bringing current far-below-market-rate leases up to market rate.”  I’ve carefully read the ballot initiative, and it says nothing of the sort.  What part of the ballot initiative does FOSP think says this?

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