Now is not the time to be timid about addressing the impacts of SMO

A plane takes off in July from Santa Monica Airport, the city’s most controversial piece of real estate

A plane takes off in July from Santa Monica Airport, the city’s most controversial piece of real estate

By Martin Rubin

Thank you Santa Monica voters for seeing your way through the thick smoke of deceit blown over the city by the aviation interests’ lobby groups. With 59% to 41% voting against the pro-Santa Monica Airport (SMO) Measure D and in favor of the city’s Measure LC, the only thing up in smoke now is the more than $750,000 spent trying to fool Santa Monica voters.

As the dust begins to settle, let us consider what the vote means and what should be done now.

The vote put to rest the pro-SMO argument that only a small minority is concerned about SMO impacts.

Not put to rest is the question of the pro-SMO misrepresentations during petition gathering, with only about 9,500 of the 15,000 who signed the petition actually voting for Measure D.

The passage of the city’s Measure LC was a huge win for slow growth. Now, with the exception of parks and open space, any future development on the land that is now SMO will have to be voted on by Santa Monica residents. This will now be part of the City Charter.

On July 1, 2015, the 1984 Santa Monica Airport agreement between the FAA and the city will expire. It is essential that the city takes action while it still has the reserved proprietary powers within the 1984 agreement. Afterward, the Airport Noise and Capacity Act of 1990 (ANCA) will begin to apply to SMO. Challenges under ANCA take years, are very expensive and, so far, always lose.

The city should not be timid about addressing the most egregious impacts of SMO. Health and safety are at the top of the list.

The Santa Monica Airport Commission is working on a recommendation to City Council that will limit aircrafts’ use of SMO by the amount of pollution an aircraft emits. That would be comparable to existing limits on noise pollution.

Also needed is a federal rule that would specify a minimum distance between the ground operations at an airport and homes. In Los Angeles a gas leaf blower can’t legally be operated within 500 feet of a residence, but SMO jets blast their toxic emissions across Bundy Drive not even 300 feet from homes.

Minimum runoff safety areas need full, not partial, implementation at both ends and both sides of the runway. This is necessary for the safety of those in the aircraft as well as those on the ground. No more runway roulette.

Dealing with SMO at the federal level, Santa Monica will have a fresh, vibrant Ted Lieu as its representative in Congress. As a California assemblyman and state senator, Ted has been by far the most active state representative to address the concerns of SMO neighbors.

The time is definitely right for the city to dive fully into the waters of correcting this deplorable situation.

The voters have spoken.

Community leaders will be watching and, as always, offering assistance.

Don’t let this right-time opportunity go by.

Martin Rubin is director of  the advocacy group Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution, founded in 2003 to oppose jet traffic at Santa Monica Airport.