SHACKLED TO JETS FOREVER?

John Fairweather

The battle over the future of Santa Monica
Airport intensified this week as a national
lobbying organization for the aviation ind-
ustry filed a proposed initiative with the
Santa Monica City Clerk that would handcuff
the City of Santa Monica’s efforts to the
future of the City’s land at the airport.
Anti-airport resident organizations immed-
iately began recruiting volunteers to halt
the ballot initiative.

“As soon as the City Council voted last week
to begin a process to possibly reclaim our
land from the Federal Aviation Administra-
tion, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots’ Assoc-
iation (AOPA), the lobbyists for the avia-
tion industry, made their move, coming up
with a ballot initia-tive that pretends to
be against development at the airport, but
is actually designed to prevent Santa Mon-
ica from shutting the airport down or even
limiting aviation operations,” said Michael
Salazar of Airport2Park.org, the organiza-
tion residents formed last year to turn the
airport land into a great park.

“The initiative was filed by three Santa
Monica residents (one of whom is a lawyer
or a law firm that specializes in ballot
measures), but it was obviously orchest-
rated by AOPA, which promoted the initia-
tive on its website within minutes of fil-
ing of the paperwork with the Santa Moni-
ca City Clerk. The initiative says that
it’s to prevent development at the airport,”
Salazar said, “but in fact AOPA wants to
stop a planning process the council began
week for the express purpose of ensuring
that the airport land will never be inten-
sively developed.”

“If they can fool enough people into sign-
ing it, it’ll be on the ballot in November,
and the aviation industry will flood Santa
Monica with money to get it passed.

If it does pass, Santa Monica could be hand-
cuffed to corporate jets forever. The initi-
ative would change the City Charter to bene-
fit just a few people. We’ve got to stop
this big lie.”

The initiative purports to give residents
the right to vote on changes to the airport,
but this is a right they already have. Any
action the City Council takes regarding the
airport can made be subject to a referen-
dum if 10% of registered voters sign peti-
titions.

This was recently demonstrated in Santa
Monica when the Residocracy organization
obtained enough signatures for a ballot
measure that would rescind the council’s
approval of an unpopular development.

Salazar said that the real purpose of the
initiative is to handcuff the City from
running the airport in any way that the
aviation businesses there don’t like.

Section 2(b) of the initiative says that
the City won’t “impose additional restric-
tions on providers of aviation support
services to tenants and airport users and
inhibit the sale of fuel of the full use
of aviation facilities,” and additional-
ly gives the right to “any person with
a beneficial interest in the operation”
of the airport to sue the City to enforce
the initiative.

This could mean, among other things, that
the City would have to continue 30-year-
old leases to aviation tenants at below
market, subsidized rents.

Airport2Park.org and anti-airport groups
like Community Against Santa Monica Air-
port Traffic (CASMAT) and Concerned Res-
idents Against Airport Pollution (CRAAP)
have joined together to combat the misin-
formation AOPA and its signature gather-
ers will be spreading. “The claim that
closing the airport will mean ‘high-den-
sity’ development is an outrageous lie,”
said Salazar. “At its hearing last week,
the council specifically instructed staff
to initiate a ‘concept plan based on low-
intensity use’ for the airport. Council
members unanimously opposed density dev-
elopment at the airport

should it be closed. The most likely out-
come is a great park, which Airport2Park
has shown can be funded without money
from developers. The AOPA is masquerad-
ing its petition as preventing overdeve-
lopment when it is, in fact,their tool
to keep jets and planes flying over local
homes, creating noise and pollution, and
threatening health and safety. It’s real-
ly a ‘Kill the Park’ initiative.”

For information on Airport2Park’s and
other organizations’ plans to counter
AOPA’s petition and initiative, contact
Airport2Park at airport2park@gmail.com.
Meanwhile, tell all your friends about
this deception. The more people that
know about it, the harder it will be
fo them to fool people into signing their
petition.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *