LOS ANGELES (CNS) - In a step that could move Santa Monica Airport
closer to closure, voters agreed to allow the City Council to make decisions
regarding the fate of the airfield and rejected an effort by aviation groups to
require a public vote on any effort to shutter the facility or restrict
Although city officials are still in a power struggle with the federal
government over the future of the 227-acre airport, passage of Measure LC on
Tuesday’s ballot gave the City Council a vote of confidence from residents.
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.
Under Measure LC, if the airport is indeed closed, the land can only be
developed into public parks, recreational facilities or open space. If any
other types of development are planned, the city will be required to seek voter
The proponents of Measure LC said noise and air pollution created by the
Santa Monica Airport has increased by 350 percent over the years. They also
said 26 airplanes affiliated with the airport have crashed, resulting in 36
deaths, since 2000.
While passing LC, voters also defeated Measure D, under which any plans
to completely or partially close the airport or to restrict activity would have
required a public vote. Backers of the measure contended that city officials
want to put high-rises or other dense housing development on the property,
which would increase traffic and air pollution.
They also argued that 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.
Backers of Measure LC argued, however, that the legal language of
Measure D would have prevented city officials from controlling airport
activity, such as limiting fuel use and the frequency or hours of take-offs and
Measure D was 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.
Actor Harrison Ford, a noted aviation enthusiast, contributed $25,887 to
the Measure D campaign.
City officials are still trying 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.
The airport does not offer scheduled air service but is used for flight
training, recreational and private transport and other purposes.