State Assembly Bill 700 failed to make it through the Senate Appropriations Committee and is officially dead.
The bill, authored by Assemblymembers David Lieu and Julia Brownley, would have required the City of Santa Monica “to establish a technical advisory committee to evaluate all relevant and appropriate studies and data regarding” Santa Monica Airport. AB 700 would have also forced the City to “prepare and submit to the Federal Aviation Administration and the Legislature a report with recommendations about potential actions that could be taken to reduce air quality impacts caused by air traffic connected with the airport,” thereby imposing a state-mandated local program.
State Senator Sheila Kuehl, whose district includes Santa Monica and who is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told the Mirror that in her opinion the “bill was weak” because “it was not clear enough” as to what it would add to the “conversation with the stakeholders” the City is already engaged in.
According to Santa Monica Airport Manager Bob Trimborn, that conversation has been taking place with a Technical Advisory Committee since last February, and includes representatives from all levels of government. The committee is waiting to find out the results of the South Coast Air Quality Management District year-long study of the airports in Santa Monica and Van Nuys that was funded by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency. According to Trimborn, air quality at the Santa Monica Airport was measured by sensor suites placed near the ends of the runway, at the home of Virginia Ernst, who lives close to the end of the runway, and at some schools near the airport.
The results of the study will be made public at the City’s Airport Commission meeting in October. Trimborn emphasized that the “City will review the study and do an initial analysis and then discuss what the next steps should be.”
Assemblymember Julia Brownley, who represents Santa Monica and lives in Sunset Park, sent the Mirror the following statement. “It was disappointing that AB 700 didn’t get out of the Appropriations Committee this year. Still, the AQMD study will be coming out this fall, and there will be follow-up discussions among all the many levels of government on what the next steps should be based on those AQMD findings, which was generally the AB 700 direction. I also intend to continue working closely on the runway safety improvements that are needed at the Airport with Congressman Waxman. This issue remains one of my highest local priorities.”
Lieu’s Chief of Staff, David Ford, told the Mirror, “Ultimately, concern about spending the money killed the bill” in the Appropriations Committee on August 30. He then mentioned there “may be a new bill” proposed by Lieu next year. He also noted that a similar bill, AB 2501 “died in the Senate Policy Committee” last year.
In a letter to the Santa Monica City Council, Ping Ho, a member of the Friends of Sunset Park Airport Committee, stated she was “not surprised that the bill was killed, given the demands on our state funds these days. I am encouraged by the fact that AB 700 made it much farther in the process than its predecessor AB 2501.”