Maybe I’m getting old, but the law that prevents use of the new dog park by residents immediately adjacent – or for that matter from anywhere in the surrounding area – is complete idiocy. We in the Mar Vista neighborhood immediately south of the airport have watched with grateful anticipation for quite some time the completion of the dog park at the airport.
To learn, as I did today, that I could be fined $200 for walking my dog there without a leash outraged me. This is like saying people outside Santa Monica can’t use SM streets. Can you imagine the fine citizens of Santa Monica being unable to use LA City streets because somehow SM chose to keep the use of its streets for its citizens? This from a city whose councilman is working on getting the Los Angeles area to work together with him on homelessness???!!!!
You have got to change the law. It’s that simple. This law is crazy. You don’t need me to tell you why – you know this is a stupid law.
Please change this, and be done with it.
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I’ve lived near the Santa Monica Airport as a renter and a homeowner for nearly three decades and believe we need to work together to get some relief from the ever-increasing jet traffic.
The simplistic argument that “the airport was here before you were” denies the simple truth that things change. Envision a residential street limited to cars and a few delivery trucks. Then the government opens the street to heavy trucks AND encourages them to use it. The result: danger, pollution and noise. It would be ludicrous to tell protesting residents: “You knew it was a street when you moved there.”
“The airport” is not a static 5,000-foot strip of concrete. It now has jet operations – 18,000 a year – it was never physically designed for. There is no way that large, fuel-laden jets should be using a relatively short runway with no end buffers or overrun zones. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. Unfortunately, while residents have appealed to the FAA for years about the growing problems, the FAA has NOT wanted to work with us.
The city is constrained by its 1984 agreement with the FAA, which controls flight operations. Meantime, a chunk of the taxes you pay for a commercial airline ticket help support such so-called “general aviation” operations that now rival that of a commercial airport. With an expanding LAX just eight miles away, there is no need for (or community benefit from) jet traffic at Santa Monica that has increased exponentially in the past 10 to 15 years.
The Santa Monica Airport Commission, on a 5-0 vote, recently made a reasonable, practical, recommendation for a buffer system that would offer a physical plane-capturing barrier at both ends of the runway and would effectively reduce the useable length of the runway. This would protect residents from an overrun and possibly decrease the number of the heavier, faster jets, providing some relief from the fumes and noise that now engulf hundreds of homes and the children playing at Clover, Marine and Airport parks.
The City Councils of Santa Monica and L.A. should support this plan and push the FAA to approve it, through diplomacy if possible and legal action if necessary.
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Why We Have a Right to Complain about Santa Monica Airport
There is a common misperception that Santa Monica Airport was here before the neighborhood grew around it; however, in reviewing a recent UCLA legal analysis of the 1984 Agreement between Santa Monica and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), I was surprised to find that the existence of homes preceded the airport. Furthermore, Santa Monica Airport was not designed for jets, and the agreement between City and the FAA was predicated upon the original fleet mix, which also did not include jets. Now, larger and larger jets, and more and more of them, use the airport each year. This represents an increase of over 1,500 percent since 1983.
Homes around Santa Monica Airport are closer to the runway ends than any other airport in the state. In addition, the airport has no buffer zones, which are considered to be so important that Congress recently required that all commercial airports install Runway Safety Areas. By the FAA’s own guidelines, if Santa Monica Airport were newly built, it would require 1,000 feet of clearance on both ends of the runway in order to accommodate the kind of jets that are currently in use.
A USC environmental scientist used mapping technology to show that several square blocks of homes adjacent to Santa Monica Airport would be destroyed in the event of a runway overrun akin to one that occurred in 2005 at a comparable airport in Texas, involving a type of plane that uses Santa Monica Airport.
My main concern is the jet pollution, which I have been able to smell consistently from my home for the past 10 years. When my son was in 7th grade, he did a study with the guidance of environmental scientists from UCLA, USC and the California Air Resources Board, and found that jets from Santa Monica Airport spew forth gobs of highly toxic ultrafine particles that infiltrate the community. The levels that he found were five times higher than what you would find near a freeway and 40 times more concentrated than what you would find in a sample of air. My son found peak levels to be associated with fumes, particularly from idling and taxiing. This spawned a series of studies by distinguished scientists that have confirmed his findings. A recent UCLA-USC study reported that the number of ultrafine particles in jet exhaust, during idle or take-off mode, is about one quadrillion (that’s ten followed by 15 zeroes!) per kilogram of jet fuel burned.
Scientists have shown that ultrafine particles are highly toxic because they lodge deeply in the lungs and release chemicals into the bloodstream that can damage cells in other parts of the body, such as the brain and liver. It is no wonder that the South Coast Air Quality Management District (the local EPA, if you will) has established the Brain/Lung Tumor and Air Pollution Foundation. Chronic inhalation of fine particle matter can aggravate lung conditions such as asthma and bronchitis, suppress lung development in children, trigger infant death, harden arteries and cause respiratory failure.
Ultrafine particles also come from automobiles, but California is allowed to regulate auto emissions more strictly than federal standards. Planes, however, cannot be regulated more strictly because they cross state and international boundaries. Pollution from automobiles is expected to decline over the next 15 years; pollution from aircraft (and ships) has been forecast to rise. Air quality authorities in California believe that in order to achieve ozone standards, they must regulate airport sources of pollution beyond current federal standards.
This is why we have the right – and responsibility – to complain.
Ms. Ping Ho
Member, Friends of Sunset Park Airport Committee
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With reference to making Pico and Olympic boulevards seven-lane one-way streets, what we need is a real solution not a misguided temporary “patch” to this serious problem. If this one-way street idea was adopted I’m certain the city would choose the option to allow for left turn lanes. As it is, this one-way street configuration would greatly increase the amount of cut-through traffic on the streets between Pico and Olympic. Not allowing left turns would require drivers who need to turn left, to make three right turns instead. This would further exacerbate the cut-through traffic problems, ruining the local neighborhoods. The traffic study shows that the proposed one-way street configuration, allowing left turns, would only increase capacity on these roads by six percent! This number is insignificant given the growing urban population. Can you imagine seven-lane one-way streets with synchronized traffic signals? Seven lanes in one direction is wider than any freeway. This would ruin the character of the Pico neighborhood that Santa Monica has recently worked so hard to improve. The $7 million Pico streetscape would have to be torn out. Every major metropolitan city across the world has figured out that the solution to traffic congestion in large cities is a train/subway metro system. Let’s address this growing issue with a real solution and fund the “Subway to the Sea,” not one-way streets.