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Thu, Mar 23, 2023

Urgent Action Request Regarding SMO’s Future

Fight the Good Fight

Founded in 1923 as Clover Field, the Santa Monica Airport (SMO) is among the United States' oldest and best-loved general aviation facilities. Formerly the world’s busiest single-runway airport, SMO spans a total of 227-prime acres within two-miles of Southern California’s Pacific coast and six-miles of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Historical and infrastructural import notwithstanding, the Santa Monica City Council resolved during a 24 January 2023 meeting to close SMO by 2028.

Santa Monica Mayor Gleam Davis set forth in a press release: “This is the beginning of a community process to reimagine the airport site, which accounts for an unprecedented 4.3-percent of the city’s land. We know this is an asset Santa Monicans care about and we want to work together to set goals and priorities to meet diverse community needs for the next several generations.”

On 22 March 2023, the Santa Monica Airport Association, a group dedicated to the airport and its preservation, published a survey in the printed and digital iterations of the Santa Monica Mirror, the city’s weekly, community newspaper. Subject survey posed two simple questions:

  • Should Santa Monica close the Airport?
  • If you think the airport should close, what should the site be converted to?

The second question was of the multiple-choice persuasion and offered survey-takers the following options: public park, residential developments, commercial developments, or mixed-use developments—none of which stand to generate even a modicum of the extant airport’s economic and infrastructural contributions to the city of Santa Monica and its people.

Parties interested in taking the survey may do so by visiting: https://smmirror.com/2023/03/should-santa-monica-close-the-airport

For over fifty-years, the city of Santa Monica has existed in a state of near-perpetual litigation with the Federal Aviation Administration over control of SMO airport operations and the use of the land upon which the facility currently stands. Since the 1970s, the city has sought relentlessly to wrest control of the airport from the FAA by means of local ordinances haphazardly contrived and hurriedly passed at the behest of monied imbeciles antipathetic to aircraft operations and the jobs and boon to community occasioned by such.

Throughout the decades spanning Arthur Fonzarelli’s rise and Disney Corp’s fall, numerous campaigns seeking to affect SMO’s closure have been undertaken by groups at once well-heeled and short-sighted. Two such groups—Citizens Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic (CASMAT) and Sunset Park Anti-Airport, Inc., (SPAA)—contended vehemently that the airport required immediate and prejudicial closure on account of its proximity to residential neighborhoods; the potential for airplane crashes; and new homeowners in the area immediately surrounding SMO not caring for the airport.  

In 2013, unable to actualize their ultimate aim, the two groups petitioned the City of Santa Monica to close two thousand feet of the airport’s runway. That such a measure would imperil aircraft, air travelers, and persons and property in the vicinity of SMO’s arrival and departure paths was a feat of cognition beyond the collective purview of the groups’ leaders.

A “consent decree” agreed upon in 2017 by the FAA and the City of Santa Monica calls for the former to return the airport land and its usage to the latter on 31 December 2028, thereby empowering the city to close SMO.

A document from the office of Santa Monica’s City Clerk summarized the agreement thus: “After years of trying to assert local control over Airport activities and use of the Airport property, the City entered into a Settlement Agreement and ‘Consent Decree’ with the United States of America and the Federal Aviation Administration that resolved all outstanding disputes between the parties and relinquished all claims by the U.S. and the FAA as to Airport land.”

A measure passed in 2014 affords the Santa Monica City Council discretion over the use of the 227 acres the city is slated to reacquire following SMO’s closure. The measure further empowers the City Council to approve the development of parks, public open spaces, and recreational facilities as well as the maintenance and replacement of cultural, arts, and educational installations on the land. The development of new real estate ventures on the property is prohibited, excepting limited undertakings approved by the voters—a limitation the survey’s writers perspicaciously presume will be ignored by the Santa Monica City Council.

Adorning their covetous aspirations in the raiments of munificence, the members of Santa Monica’s City Council contend that following SMO’s closure, the body will “invite community participation in designing what may be the greatest transformative event of this century for the City of Santa Monica, and perhaps the region.”

Likely nothing of the sort will transpire.

To what end the Santa Monica Airport Association intends to ply the results of its survey remains to be seen. Even overwhelming support for the airport’s continued existence and operation is likely to be ignored by Santa Monica’s governing class—a theme far too prevalent in contemporary American politics. Still, pilots and aviation enthusiasts of all stripes and in all U.S. states would do well to take the Santa Monica Mirror survey and make known their support of the airport and its continued operation—lest yet another facet of our nation and its history be lost to a predatory and insatiable confederacy of monied nihilists and falsely-impassioned cretins.

FMI: www.santamonicaairport.info

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