A pair of competing measures on the Santa Monica ballot today will ask voters to decide the future of the 227-acre general aviation airport that city officials want closed.
The Santa Monica Airport does not offer scheduled air service but is used for flight training, recreational and private transport and other purposes.
Actor Harrison Ford is among those who keep private planes — which can range from gliders to corporate jets — at the airport.
Members of the Santa Monica City Council are considering closing all or part of the airport and have already implemented or want to enact measures to restrict airplane traffic, such as limiting fuel use and noise levels.
At issue in the election is the manner in which decisions about the future of the airport should be made, whether it should be through action by the City Council, or through a vote by Santa Monica residents.
Under Measure D, any plans to completely or partially close the airport or to restrict activity there, would be put to voters. Backers of the measure contend city officials want to put high-rises or other dense housing development on the property, which would increase traffic and air pollution.
They also argue any proposal to close or limit activity at the airport would affect 175 businesses and 1,500 jobs. The airport also injects $250 million into the economy each year, according to Measure D proponents.
Measure LC, a counter-initiative backed by members of the City Council, asks voters to reaffirm the city’s decision-making power over the airport’s fate, which could mean closure of the airport.
Under the measure, if the airport is indeed closed, the land could only be developed into public parks, recreational facilities or open space. If any other types of development are planned, the city would be required to ask voters to set restrictions or decide how the land could be used before being allowed to move forward.
The proponents of Measure LC contend noise and air pollution created by the Santa Monica Airport has increased by 350 percent. They also said 26 airplanes affiliated with the airport have crashed, resulting in 36 deaths, since 2000.
The proponents of Measure LC also contend the legal language of Measure D would prevent city officials from controlling airport activity, such as limiting fuel use and the frequency or hours of take-offs and landings.
Measure D is heavily backed by aviation groups, including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the National Business Aviation Association, which together donated at least $540,000 of the $824,000 raised by proponents.
Ford contributed $25,887 to the Measure D campaign.
Campaign statements show Measure LC is supported primarily by donations of less than $1,000, with proponents raising at least $118,400.
Even as voters weigh in on these measures, city officials continue to try to overturn an agreement the city reached with the federal government in 1948 — when the airport was returned to Santa Monica after World War II — that restricts the land to being used as an airport. City officials contend that the city bought the land in the 1920s to use as parkland.