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Santa Monica Airport: Third Question For City Council Candidates:

The Santa Monica City Council members to be elected on Nov. 4, 2014 will be responsible for guiding and shaping the city. Their decisions will affect each of us in practical ways – such as our daily travel in the city; the number of parks we have and how they are used; how we spend the public dollar and the social benefits that can bring; and the image and character of new development in the city.

This column is the third in a series of columns where City Council candidates are asked to respond to issues of controversy and conflict in Santa Monica.

There are 14 candidates for three seats. The purpose of these columns is to let you, the reader, get a better understanding of each candidate and to help you as you decide which candidates are worthy of your vote.

The first column asked about traffic congestion at Colorado and the Pier (smmirror.com/articles/City-Council/Traffic-The-First-Question-For-Santa-Monica-City-Council-Candidates/41339).

The second column asked about City Social Services and senior lunches and programs at the Camera Obscura in Palisades Park (smmirror.com/articles/City-Council/Seniors–Services-Second-Question-Santa-Monica-City-Council-Candidates/41372).

This, the third column in the series, asks:

The future of the Santa Monica Airport (SMO) is an issue where incoming council members will have to show leadership and make decisions.

Briefly, explain your vision for the future of the airport land, the process you would want the City to follow in decision-making, and the criteria you would use to make your decision.

In a scramble, out of the hat, order, here are the responses of the City Council candidates.

Kevin McKeown

The airport initiatives aren’t about closing the airport, or about development, but about whether we retain control over land we own. After the current agreement with the FAA expires, I want to see the airport reduced in size, intensity, and impacts; and then, if residents wish, closed. I will protect art, cultural, recreational, and educational uses at the airport, and business operations that are non-aviation.

Jerry Rubin

Close SMO, create a park instead, and provide a future that is opposite of the polluting, deafening and dangerous airport that, unfortunately, is still operating today. Support community-backed Prop LC. Oppose deceptive aviation industry-backed Prop D. Use SMO lands for parkland, recreational fields, artistic, cultural and educational opportunities rather than vehicles for corporate jet polluters and toxic lead-propelled pilot school and recreational planes that could be relocated to other nearby and better located airports.

Richard McKinnon

The Airport should close as quickly as possible with the guarantee that there is no development on the site. That’s Initiative LC. We should support adaptive reuse for the existing buildings; some renewable energy; an emergency service pad in the middle; a North South road through the middle to relieve pressure on the rat race roads in Sunset Park; and all this contained in a big park of active and passive recreation. And the initial step is for the City to close the western end in mid 2015 and then move into a community consultation. Currently, the Airport makes no economic, social, environmental or safety sense. It never can. That’s the definition of something needing a change.

Jennifer Kennedy

The health and safety of our community is my top concern. The City’s process should include careful decision-making about funding for continued litigation. I support Measure LC (not Measure D). If SMO (Santa Monica Airport) closes, the land should be used for recreational/park space. The City must be aggressive about restricting aviation services/operations, eliminating harmful emissions, closing the western end of the runway to prohibit loud and unsafe jets, and increasing safety standards while pursuing full closure.

Nick Boles

The airport lands belong to the City of Santa Monica. The city needs to move for a partial closure of the west end of the runway in order to gain greater leverage with the expiration of the 1984 agreement (assuming LC passes in November). Once the city takes back control of the airport lands, a decision should be made as a community on what the future use of the airport should be.

Frank Gruber

My vision for the airport land, should the City be able to close the airport (which has been the stated policy of the City since 1981), is to turn the land now being used for aviation purposes into a park for the benefit of all, and continue the cultural and educational uses along Airport Avenue, to create a wonderful publicly-used alternative to the private use of public land that is the current reality.

Pam O’Connor

“Can’t answer this one as the City is litigating this” – that was O’Connor’s current response to being asked the airport question. In a 2010 interview, O’Connor said, “Closing the airport is definitely an option. But we need to embark on a process to understand options from continued use to closure. This will take data (on environmental impacts and economic impacts) and a robust community process to chart the path for the future of the airport and environs. This process is underway starting with a data collection phase.

Phil Brock

We can reclaim 35 acres of the westernmost runway in late 2015 making the runway too short for large jets. All leases renewed only on a month-to-month, market rate lease in 2015. Sell unleaded gas, stop pollution. As a Parks Commissioner I’ll always choose parkland over buildings. As a City Council member I want our residents to decide on the use of our land and will respect their wishes. No on D, Yes on LC.

Sue Himmelrich

We should close the airport and set a course to transform the site into a major public park with significant passive open space as well as recreational space. The policy of maintaining development around the airport to no greater than currently exists is a sound policy, as is the requirement that any additional development will require a popular vote. The residents should guide the future of this city-owned land for the betterment of our larger community rather than be locked into a burdensome asset that benefits only a (mostly wealthy) few.

Whitney Scott Bain

Keep the airport open and the way its been there since 1917. People knew that there was an airport there when they bought their homes. If they have a problem, talk to their realtor. The FAA was more-than-happy to give the city of Santa Monica $12 million dollars to cut down the noise and safety measures, but our current council members turned it down. The FAA has the ability to donate $6 million dollars for sound proofing homes in the area, but why haven’t the city residents that live in Sunset Park requested it?

Terence Later

Our Airport is a historic national treasure. We need to preserve this 227 acres for future generations. This land developed into a Century City or Playa Vista would have far more disastrous ecological impact than as it stands today. Bio-fuels and safer quieter aircraft need to be mandated. In 2012 City Government spent millions placing the airport in it’s disaster preparedness plan. Our airport is not City Councils Piggybank…. Yes on ‘D’ No on ‘LC’

Jon Mann

I was the first candidate to advocate closing Santa Monica airport. I fully support the residents taking that property back and making it a park as the original bond intended. Times have changed; Santa Monica has become densely populated and an airport at that location is noise pollution, unsafe and hazardous to the health. I am voting YES for LC even though it is flawed and doesn’t go far enough. I am voting NO on D because it is disengenuous and bankrolled by powerful out of state interests who want to keep the airport open to jet aircraft.

Editor’s note: Candidates Zoe Muntaner and Michael Feinstein did not respond to the question by time of press.

in Opinion
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