Seeking to address neighborhood concerns regarding air contaminants from jet fumes that have reportedly increased exponentially in recent years, the Santa Monica Airport Commission recommended Monday, April 23rd, that the City Council support legislation that has been submitted to the State Legislature to study aircraft pollution.
Assembly Bill (AB) 700, sponsored by Assemblyman Ted Lieu, was crafted to target toxins produced from larger airplanes at Santa Monica Airport. Under the bill, the state Air Resources Board would be required to complete an analysis of air pollution from jets and turboprop airplanes taking off and landing at Santa Monica Airport.
The commission endorsed Assembly Bill 700 in a 3-2 vote.
‘I expected a unanimous vote, so I’m definitely disappointed,’ said commission member Yoram Tal, who voted with Susan Hartley and Ofer Grossman to support the pending legislation. ‘I think this is important legislation, and I truly hope that the city will put its voice and weight behind it.’
Commission chair Mark Young, one of the commissioners who voted no, said this week that because AB 700 is still in its nascent stage, the recommendation was somewhat premature.
‘While I agree with the concept of [AB 700], I thought that it would be best to wait until it’s in it’s final form,’ Young said.
‘If this was in its final version, I don’t think that I would have opposed [the recommendation],’ he added.
David Kaplan joined Young in voting against the proposal.
‘[Young and Kaplan] made some valid points,’ Tal conceded.
‘Air pollution is ongoing, and it’s an urgent issue that needs to be seriously addressed,’ said Martin Rubin, who heads a neighborhood organization, Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution.
To date, the neighborhood activist says he has not been very impressed with the City Council’s stance on protecting the air quality of residents and homeowners who live near the airport.
‘I think they’ve been a little soft on air pollution,’ Rubin said during a telephone interview. ‘So we can’t sit back and let the city take the helm on this. We’ve got to do something ourselves.’
Tal, who lives near the airport, credits Rubin with bringing a greater awareness of the effects of contaminants from jet fumes to the airport board and concerned community members.
‘Marty has really been instrumental in helping many of us understand how important (air quality) is,’ Tal said.
Rubin does feel that the airport commissioners – three of whom are relatively new to the board – have been very conscientious about taking this matter seriously.
‘We’ve seen a whole new level of improvement with the new commission,’ Rubin said.
Friends of Sunset Park president Zina Josephs was understandably happy with the commission’s decision.
‘I’m really happy that it passed,’ she said. ‘Our board strongly supports AB 700.’
Rubin praised Joseph’s group as being a leader in the fight not only for runway safety, but to combat toxins generated by jet planes.
‘There’s been a good collaborative effort between the Friends of Sunset Park and concerned neighborhoods,’ he said.
Some residents of Santa Monica, Mar Vista, Palms and Venice have complained of what they allege are odorous and poisonous fumes that have engulfed their homes since the arrival of larger airplanes at the airport nearly ten years ago.
At the commission meeting Monday, April 23rd, several community members discussed how noisy the jets are and how polluted the environment has become in recent years.
‘We do recognize the value of your complaints and we do value how you feel,’ assured Mario Fabila, noise supervisor of Santa Monica Airport.
Fabila claimed that the number of complaints had decreased this year due to the airport staff’s dedication to residents’ grievances, and three aircraft had been banned from the airport for violating the city’s noise ordinance, which he claims is ‘the strictest among municipal airports when it comes to noise.
‘Our goal is to make sure that each aircraft adheres to our city ordinance, and we will continue to enforce the noise ordinance and continue our community outreach,’ he said.
Stacy Brown, a West Los Angeles resident who attended the hearing, credited the airport staff with being diligent in reducing the number of complaints lodged by residents, but added, ‘Quite a bit of (the reduction in complaints) is due to ‘issue-fatigue.’
‘There are a number of people in the community – including me – who are to the point where we’re not going to get out of bed and write down the time and call in during our busy schedules.’
Santa Monica City Council is expected to discuss AB 700 in the next couple of months.