The California State Assembly Transportation Committee unanimously approved a resolution presented by Assemblymember Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) that would encourage the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) “to honor the decision of the City of Santa Monica to increase safety precautions at SMO [Santa Monica Airport] and restrict the use of class C and D aircrafts at SMO.”
Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR) 37 passed out of committee on a 13-0 vote on Monday, June 23, and is headed for the floor of the full Assembly; if it is adopted there, as expected with the unusually strong committee vote, it will go to the Senate. It marks a victory, though not a binding one, on the legislative front for the City of Santa Monica in its continuing battle with the FAA over safety conditions at SMO.
“Once again, the Federal Aviation Administration has shown us where its loyalties are,” said Assemblymember Lieu. “It is obvious that their main concern is not the safety and protection of the American people, but to cater to the demands of the wealthy elite, whether they are airline companies or those who can afford large private jets.”
The resolution called SMO “one of the most residentially encroached airports in the entire nation” – both ends of the airport’s runway are less than 300 feet from densely populated residential communities. The resolution also noted that jet operations at SMO “have increased from less than 2,000 in 1983 to more than 18,500 this year.”
On March 25 of this year, the Santa Monica City Council passed an ordinance that would ban the larger Category C and D jets at Santa Monica Airport in an effort to ensure public safety and protect local residents. The city-owned airport has no runway safety areas to act as buffer zones in the case that aircraft overrun the runway. “With homes sitting less than 300 feet from the ends of the runway and a dramatic increase in the amount of faster jets using the airport, the City of Santa Monica was forced to take these actions to protect its residents,” said a press release issued by Assemblyman Lieu’s office. “The FAA responded to the decision by filing for a preliminary injunction to prevent the city from enforcing the ban.”
“I would also like to commend the Santa Monica City Council for standing on principle and placing the safety of its citizens above the profit-driven values of the FAA,” stated Assemblymember Lieu. “It is comforting to know that local leaders are willing to take on the FAA’s misguided policies and regulations.”
Martin Rubin, founder and director of Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution (CRAAP), called AJR 37 “a great resolution.”As of Tuesday night, June 24, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had not ruled on the City’s request for a stay of the preliminary injunction restraining the City’s enforcement of its ordinance. Meanwhile, the City’s opening brief on the merits of its appeal from that preliminary injunction is due to be filed with the Ninth Circuit by July 2.