The Santa Monica-Malibu Council of PTAs, representing more than 7,000 members, has joined a growing coalition of civic, environmental, and neighborhood groups in opposing Measure D and supporting Measure LC on the Nov. 4 ballot.
Measure D is sponsored by two national aviation industry lobbying groups and would restrict Santa Monica’s ability to regulate operations of the Santa Monica Municipal Airport or to convert the city-owned land into public parkland or recreational space.
Measure D would also specifically prohibit any restrictions to fuel sales or restrictions on the “full use of aviation facilities” – any of these changes would require ballot measures to be approved by a majority of all registered Santa Monica voters.
Citing concerns about the effects of lead and other air emissions on school children and families who live near the airport, PTA Council president Rochelle Fanali stated, “The PTA opposes Measure D because it could thwart or delay necessary efforts to improve the health and safety of airport operations.”
A UCLA study of Santa Monica Airport emissions published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology (UCLA Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, 2009) found that people who live and work near Santa Monica Airport are exposed to unusually high levels of air pollution — a significant health concern that has been largely associated with major commercial airports such as LAX.
In 1998, the California State PTA adopted a special resolution titled “Protection of Children from the Harmful Effects of Aircraft Emissions,” recognizing that children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of toxic emissions from the operation of aircraft, especially in and around airports, and urged the appropriate agencies to initiate immediate remedial steps to ensure the protection of school children from these harmful effects.
“For nearly two decades, PTA has recognized that children are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of airport emissions. The U.S. EPA warns that exposure even to low levels of lead early in life have been linked to effects on IQ, learning, memory, and behavior. There is no known safe level of lead in the body,” Fanali said.
The Santa Monica airport is the largest lead-emitter in the City, releasing more than 1,438 pounds of lead per year into the air, according to the National Resources Defense Council.
“Under the guise of ‘empowering local voters,’ Measure D would actually prevent any effort to reduce health risks for Santa Monicans caused by the airport without a battle at the ballot box at every turn against the well-funded aviation special interests that wish to protect the status quo,” said Barbara Inatsugu, PTA Legislation Committee Co-chair, who studied the measure.
Measure LC was placed on the ballot by the City of Santa Monica as a counter-measure with the support of a citizens’ campaign committee of Santa Monica residents.
The City is currently constrained in making any changes at the airport by a lease with the Federal Aviation Administration set to expire in 2015, at which time limits on flights and types of aircraft could be placed on the Airport.
Measure LC’s approval would enable those changes to be made, while prohibiting any development of the land unless approved by the voters.
“We need Measure LC to protect our local authority to regulate airport operations, improve health and safety conditions for children and families, and keep decisions about the future of our land under local control and away from the heavy influence of the national aviation industry lobby,” added Fanali.