City officials lobby FAA to close Santa Monica Airport
Santa Monica staff, officials and anti-airport activists flew to Washington D.C. this week to advocate for closure of the Santa Monica Airport.
The group, including Rep. Ted Lieu, Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown, Santa Monica Mayor Pro Tempore Tony Vazquez, Santa Monica Councilmember Sue Himmelrich and 16 other local constituents, met with FAA in a meeting facilitated by Lieu and Congresswoman Karen Bass.
According to those present at the meeting, FAA officials listened without comment.
“The congressional representatives asked the FAA to participate in the meeting to hear the views of their constituents about whether or not Santa Monica Airport should be closed or remain open,” said the FAA’s official statement. “The FAA listened to the constituents but could not comment because of pending litigation about the airport which involves the FAA.”
At the meeting, McKeown said the airport doesn’t meet minimum safety requirements and spews pollution into the environment.
“As Mayor, my primary responsibility is to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the residents of Santa Monica. I also am concerned for the impacts of SMO on surrounding communities. Besides protecting our residents, I must also protect our resources,” he said. “I’m here today because Santa Monica Airport endangers both our residents and our resources. What was once a grass landing strip in the midst of beanfields is now often described as ‘an aircraft carrier in a sea of homes.’ The exceptionally close proximity of the runway and residents’ homes presents unacceptable safety risks.”
He said the FAA had been respectful but had ultimately ducked responsibility for problems at the site.
“We elected officials in Santa Monica, and our staff, have patiently attempted to work with your agency for many years. At every turn, you have blocked our attempts to guarantee our residents and our neighbors what they deserve: safety, clean air, good health, and protection from an outmoded, unsafe facility that degrades their quality of life,” he said.
Lieu described the meeting as productive and said he hoped the FAA would listen to the concerns of residents.
“The serious safety, environmental, and health concerns of the Santa Monica Airport date back for several decades,” he said. “After a meeting with the FAA was announced, my office received over one thousand comment forms from constituents citing the everyday risks they face as they go about their lives. Whether it is a mother concerned about her child suffering from lead exposure, a husband worried about his wife’s asthma, or families simply trying to sleep at night, the problems my constituents face on a daily basis are real and hazardous.”
Several speakers listed potential health hazards of the airport and said the problems extend beyond Santa Monica.
“A three mile radius of affected adults and children are exposed to known heath risks from ultra fines, lead and extreme noise from an airport that does not meet the FAAs own safety standards,” said Alan Levenson, of NO JETS Santa Monica Airport. “Large jets and turboprops should not be taking off and landing over a densely populated neighborhood with a runway less than 300 feet from homes. There is no way to make the surrounding community safe under current operation. Since the FAA is not willing to scale this airport way back, then they need to let it go.”