I would like to weigh in on the competing ballot measures regarding the future of the Santa Monica Airport. There has been a great deal of conflicting information put out about the land which the airport occupies.
Everyone interested should read the City Council Report (3/25/14) entitled “The Future of Santa Monica Airport”.
This report confirms that the City owns the land, and that the bulk of the land was purchased with general obligation bonds which were approved by the voters and issued for “park purposes.”
When bonds are used to acquire land for “park purposes” that land must remain as parkland until the voters vote otherwise or the president issues a proclamation stating that there exists an “unlimited national emergency requiring military, naval, aviation and civilian readiness to repel any and all acts or threats of aggression” such as the one President Roosevelt issued after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the declarations of war against the United States by the German and Japanese governments.
After World War II ended the federal government ceased to need the airport for defense purposes and in 1948 terminated its lease of the airport land.
There was an agreement at that time that the City would continue to operate the airport until the FAA agreed it no longer needed to operate the airport, and that if the City refused to continue operating the airport, the FAA could take the airport over.
In the decades that followed multiple lawsuits were filed over the operation and existence of the airport. To resolve this litigation, in 1984 the City and the AAA (federal government) entered into a written agreement which put an end to the litigation, required the City to operate the airport until 2015, and permitted the City to close the airport when the 1984 agreement expires in 2015. By signing the 1984 agreement, the FAA gave permission to the City of Santa Monica to cease airport operations in 2015; this is the permission required by the 1948 agreement.
The aviation industry has placed a measure on the ballot designed to keep the airport open, and the aviation industry has sent out a flier in support of its ballot measure which seems to be designed to scare the public by erroneously telling the public that their choice is between the noisy and polluting and arguably unsafe airport with jet flights coming in and out many times each day, OR, some sort of mega-development which will generate tens of thousands of car trips each day. BUT THERE IS A THIRD CHOICE, which is to use those acres for the purpose for which they were intended, which is parkland and recreational use.
The People of Santa Monica already own these acres of land. They belong to you and me – we the people. This land was acquired for the people to be parkland. We could put together something similar to the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy and turn the 227 acres referenced on the aviation industry’s flier into something wonderful which would benefit ALL of Santa Monica.
With all those acres available (which we already own) we could have:
– Bike paths.
– Hiking trails.
– Multiple dog parks scattered throughout the many acres of the parkland.
– A “walk of art” comparable to the UCLA Sculpture Garden which would display public art.
– After-school and/or summer nature-oriented recreational space for children similar to the UCLA Bruin Camp which is available to children during the summer we well as programs focusing on nature.
– Gardens of drought-resistant native California plants.
– Groves of drought-resistant native California trees.
– Space for kite-flying.
– Playing fields for soccer, baseball, softball, etc.
– Dedicated space for rollerskaters and skateboarders.
– Public gardens where people could grow their own vegetables.
– A rock climbing wall.
– A conservatory similar to the one in Golden Gate State Park.
– A senior center.
– An observatory or planetarium.
– Anything else we can imagine as recreational use.
Barry Brewer, Santa Monica