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Santa Monica Airport proponents John Jerabek (in front), Flora Yin, and Michael Arno, who are organized under the group “Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development Decisions,” deliver signatures to City Hall on Tuesday.
Photo by Parimal M. Rohit
Santa Monica Airport proponents John Jerabek (in front), Flora Yin, and Michael Arno, who are organized under the group “Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development Decisions,” deliver signatures to City Hall on Tuesday.

News, Santa Monica, Santa Monica Airport

Santa Monica Airport Ballot Initiative Gathers More Than 15,500 Signatures

Michael Arno and Santa Monica City Clerk Sarah Gorman discuss logistics of the submitted signatures.
Photo by Parimal M. Rohit
Michael Arno and Santa Monica City Clerk Sarah Gorman discuss logistics of the submitted signatures.

Posted Jun. 13, 2014, 8:45 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

A group of proponents aiming to amend the Santa Monica City Charter to require voters approve any potential plans to redevelop the local airport submitted more than 15,500 signatures to City Hall on Tuesday.

If County officials verify the submitted signatures, the issue of who determines the future of Santa Monica Airport (SMO) could be on the ballot. The initiative’s proponents hope voters would be able to decide on the proposed Charter amendment in the Nov. 4 general election.

The proponents, who organized under the group “Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development Decisions,” only needed to submit about 9,000 signatures.

A committee receiving funding from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and supported by businesses, pilots, and residents in the area, the Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development Decisions said it believes City officials “have not been forthcoming with voters and taxpayers about redevelopment and land-use plans for the valuable airport property.”

“The aim of the ballot initiative is to put the future of the development of airport land in the hands of the Santa Monica residents,” said John Jerabak, one of the members of the Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development Decisions. “It’s 227 acres of flat land that the residents own. Any development decisions about that land need to be vetted by the entire community.”

Joining Jerabak in submitting the 15,500-plus signatures to Santa Monica City Clerk Sarah Gorman were Flora Yin and Michael Arno.

According to the initiative’s proponents, the Charter Amendment would achieve two requirements: voters would determine whether the use of SMO would be changed to non-aviation purposes; if voters do not approve any changes for SMO, the City must continue operating it as an airport.

“This Charter Amendment is an insurance policy for the citizens of this city,” Lauren McCollum, one of the initiative’s proponents and a local businesswoman, stated. “If the legal status of the land changes, the City can make whatever land use decisions it wants. But, it must get voter approval rather than listening to a few political insiders.”

Interestingly enough, the Santa Monica City Council unanimously adopted a plan to look into how SMO could either be shut down or have its operations significantly cut. Furthermore, Santa Monica Mayor Pam O’Connor and Santa Monica Councilman Kevin McKeown both said at the March 25 council meeting if SMO were indeed shut down, it would remain a low-density project and the land where the airport sits would not be converted into “Century City West.”

However, while Santa Monica may indeed develop a low-density development policy for the actual SMO land, the airport’s eastern edge is actually in the City of Los Angeles. By eliminating the land’s aviation use, proponents believe Los Angeles could develop high rises right up to the City’s border with Santa Monica at the airport.

In a statement released by the community group Airport2Park.org, the charter amendment proponents were accused of conducting a pay-for-signatures campaign.

“Many residents who did sign have asked the City Clerk to rescind their signatures,” the statement read. “The community campaign was effective enough to push the price-per-signature the AOPA paid from about $4 originally to as much as $20 this week.”

The statement continued: “The AOPA has spent freely to try to buy a spot for its measure on the November ballot. It’s prepared to spend much more in its effort to block the city’s desire to increase airport rents to market level and to mitigate SMO’s current negative health and safety impacts, and prevent Santa Monica from ultimately closing the airport and building a great park.”

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Comments

Jun. 13, 2014, 11:27:45 am

Brian said...

After a failed attempt to get me to sign their petition. It is against Santa Monica's better interest to get rid of the airport. Although residents suffer from loud noise and air pollution. It was their decision in the first place to buy there. If we allow the people to get rid of the airport; in the event of a natural disaster there will be no place close enough to provide relief efforts to Santa Monicans. After living here my whole life new residents I feel don't fully understand or see what they are affecting ; especially the strong history and community the airport has given us.

Jun. 13, 2014, 1:23:35 pm

John B. said...

Living on the Eastside of this airport, I can say that this airport needs to be shut down for the betterment of Los Angeles and Santa Monica. It is a polluting and unsafe business and should not be allowed at this site anymore. Before houses and businesses were here. it was beanfields, not what it is today. People that fly planes seem to have no insight to the real problems surrounding this business. It must be taken out for the good of all.

Jun. 13, 2014, 10:14:00 am

W Smith said...

Someone please confirm that the land isn't already federally owned. Often in the past, if there's an issue with public land the Feds just "purchase" the land in dispute restrict the public. Can this happen here? Can the Mirror ask an expert? Thanks. If the airport goes away, does that mean we'll have a mall with more condos and cars?

Jun. 13, 2014, 10:24:25 am

Gabestepa said...

It's a way to fool the people to make them think one thing and and the city does an other and blame the citizens with the outcome , by tricks

Jun. 13, 2014, 3:06:15 pm

David Shaby said...

Current EPA studies have shown that the airport is NOT a significant polluter of the Santa Monica environment. One city bus puts out more pollution in a day than any aircraft into Santa Monica's air. An aircraft departing out of Santa Monica, is there for only a matter of seconds. Despite the Airport2 Park rhetoric, their claims about pollution are just plain false. Anyone who thinks that the city can afford to give up the 275 million that the airport pumps into the local economy on a yearly basis and replace it with a park that will cost 150 M to build and that brings in no income, is living in a fantasy land. Developers have been salivating over these 227 acres for the last 40 years. With the amount of money at stake (Billions) I dont trust local politicians to make a decision that is in the best interests of the community.

Jun. 13, 2014, 3:06:38 pm

David Shaby said...

Current EPA studies have shown that the airport is NOT a significant polluter of the Santa Monica environment. One city bus puts out more pollution in a day than any aircraft into Santa Monica's air. An aircraft departing out of Santa Monica, is there for only a matter of seconds. Despite the Airport2 Park rhetoric, their claims about pollution are just plain false. Anyone who thinks that the city can afford to give up the 275 million that the airport pumps into the local economy on a yearly basis and replace it with a park that will cost 150 M to build and that brings in no income, is living in a fantasy land. Developers have been salivating over these 227 acres for the last 40 years. With the amount of money at stake (Billions) I dont trust local politicians to make a decision that is in the best interests of the community.

Jun. 13, 2014, 3:36:00 pm

Mr. Powell said...

I don't care who is behind it or why. I just want the opportunity to vote as a resident of Santa Monica. I don't want some bureaucrat or someone else with an agenda forcing me one way or another. Let's stop whining and put it to a vote!

Jun. 13, 2014, 6:27:15 pm

Wambo said...

I tried circulating a marijuana petition once in Santa Monica. But I suspect everyone was too stoned to sign. Next thing I knew, I woke up with a broken skateboard after passing out on the sidewalk. Don't assume this is the easiest thing in the world to do. And leave your skateboard at home. You've been warned.

Jun. 14, 2014, 8:42:31 am

Jesus said...

@Wambo - what a dumb joke. Spoken like far right creep who knows absolutely nothing about petitions, marijuana or skateboards for that matter.

Jun. 14, 2014, 12:16:26 pm

ted said...

1) I disagree with the person who says "they knew about the airport when the bought their homes." I think the addition of jets was something unforseen. 2) I hate to sound like some tea-party whacko; but I don't trust the city council to do the right thing.. There isn't a major landmark named after Judy Abdo or Pam O'Connor yet and I think SMRR wants to change that a.s.a.p.

Jun. 14, 2014, 12:22:31 pm

ted said...

P.S. I'm still burned up about SMRR (operating under the name, city council) changed Lincoln Park to CHRISTINE EMERSON REED PARK. She was probably a nice lady; but to me this is way overreach.

Jun. 14, 2014, 1:24:06 pm

Lynn said...

@ted Instead of a landmark they should name a burger at Carl's Jr. "the O'conner". It's 6 meat patties fried into the shape of a high rise mixed use building and served with a side of gravy (under the table).

Jun. 14, 2014, 6:33:02 pm

Roger said...

Pictures of a nice park are soothing, but I don't trust our City Council to do anything but turn a closed airport into Hines North. Remember, once it's closed, it's forever.

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