Editor’s Note: This is an open letter sent to members of the Santa Monica City Council regarding tonight’s discussion on the future of Santa Monica Airport.
I have read the staff report that is on the agenda for the March 25th council meeting. As long time user of the airport facilities and as a property owner who has lived under the airport flight path for over 30 years, I am opposed to the conclusions and the direction that the staff proposes to take.
The airport is an important economic engine for Santa Monica and the surrounding area. Nearly $300 million of business and the employment of over 1500 people who then support families, pay taxes and vote stands to be destroyed by the actions you have directed staff to enact. The leases and landing fees support all of the other airport activities including the artist studios and Santa Monica College.
The constant clamoring over issues of noise, pollution and safety by a minority of residents of the surrounding area does not adequately represent the feelings of the majority of either Santa Monicans or the residents of the surrounding communities.
There are fewer flights entering and leaving the airport than at almost any time in its history. There is less noise than ever as total flights diminish and both jets and propeller planes advance technologically and become quieter and more pollution free. In fact, staff has been unable to show any statistics that point to any major health or safety issues at the airport.
In spite of 2010 EPA study that showed no cause for concern about leaded aviation fuel, the FAA, in conjunction with major refiners, has worked diligently to replace leaded fuel and Shell Oil has now applied for a permit to sell unleaded aviation fuel. This will soon alleviate any possible concern about this form of pollution.
No matter what the anti-airport activists would have you believe, in the 90 plus years of the airport’s operation, there has never been an aviation accident that resulted in the death of any resident of Santa Monica on the ground. Residents under the flight path have a larger chance of being hit by lightning than being hit by an airplane.
Not only is the airport a vital reliever for surrounding airports and a lifeline in any crisis such as an earthquake, tsunami or other disaster, it is currently the originator of over 800 Angel Flights per year conducted by volunteer pilots who use their own planes, free of charge, to fly children and adults to receive critical medical care. It is also the start or end point of numerous time-critical and life saving organ donations flown in by jet.
All of these benefits are put in jeopardy by your proposals to shorten the runway or close the airport. Don’t let the constant complaints of a few destroy all the benefits the airport provides to the community.
I ask the council to immediately restore the Airport Commission to its previous balance of all the stakeholders who use and live around the airport and to instruct staff to diligently work to make the historic Santa Monica Airport once again the vital asset to the city that it should be.