November cannot come soon enough. Never mind the factions making their respective cases for whether or not Santa Monica Airport (SMO) should remain open and active, but this past week two groups on polar opposite sides of the debate escalated tensions a little more by arguing the meaning of words and phrases.
One of those groups – the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Assoc. (AOPA) and its local affiliation in Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development Decisions (SMOHDD) – has a measure on the November ballot asking voters whether the future of SMO should be left to them instead of the City Council.
Now known as Measure D, the initiative specifically would require any future changes to the land use and zoning of SMO is subject to voter approval. So if the City Council wants to deactivate the airport and turn it into, say, a park, that decision would ultimately have to be approved by Santa Monica voters.
Since the AOPA and its local affiliation gained enough support for Measure D, the City Council pounded away at crafting its own SMO ballot initiative, hoping to retain the power to determine the airport’s future with Santa Monica’s seven-member elected panel. That initiative is known as Measure LC.
The existence of two competing measures on the November ballot initially raised the question of what would happen should both initiatives receive a majority vote.
Earlier this week, attorney Jonathan Stein filed a 15-page legal request formally asking the City Attorney to amend the “Impartial Analysis” and the AOPA ballot measure.
At the heart of the Aug. 15 filing is a hair-splitting discussion of whether there is misleading language in the pro-SMO ballot initiative (Measure D) that does not properly describe a supermajority voting requirement.
Specifically, the court filing says the meaning of “voter approval” is misleading and inconsistent with the California Election Code “because of its arguments in favor of the AOPA Ballot Measure,” according to a copy of the legal document.
Further, the legal document filed by Stein claimed the City Attorney’s Impartial Analysis fails to properly address the required topic.
A statement issued by the AOPA-backed SMOHDD explained the intent of Measure D, which is supported by pro-SMO groups, is pretty clear.
“The Voters Decide Charter Amendment has two main requirements: (1) voter approval will be required for any City plan to change the use of low-density airport land for non-aviation purposes; (2) Unless voters approve such a change, the City shall continue to keep airport land in low-density aviation use,” the SMOHDD statement said.
A hearing on the court filing was scheduled for today, Aug. 22.