Defends aircraft operations at Santa Monica Airport

To the Editor:

Re: “Open letter to the Santa Monica Council regarding Santa Monica Airport” (The Argonaut letters, Sept. 8):

As Albert Einstein showed, most everything is relative. The author of the letter condemns flight schools as well as pollution caused by aircraft at Santa Monica Airport.

She implies that pilots, especially of corporate jets, are somehow selfish by contributing to a gigantic carbon footprint that is harming the environment of our planet. I guess I’d like to check under the sink in her kitchen to see how many household chemicals are available that are eventually going to wind up in Santa Monica Bay.

The point is that piloting aircraft contributes far less pollution than the more common activities of the public at large. I would submit that pollution from aircraft in the Los Angeles basin comes nowhere near the levels that are produced by ground vehicles and is largely negligible.

The writer asks, “Why on earth do we allow student pilots to learn to fly in such a densely populated area?” The main concern seems to relate to safety, especially in light of a recent crash involving a student pilot.

There is no easy answer to the question. In terms of percentages over many years, flight schools at Santa Monica Airport have had very few incidents involving student pilots.

Aviation practices, in general at the airport, have an outstanding safety record. No one can guarantee that a future accident will not occur as no one can guarantee that a pedestrian or bicyclist will not be harmed on a public thoroughfare.

Any form of transportation involves a degree of risk that cannot be eliminated but only mitigated with better planning. The city of Santa Monica had the opportunity to make the airport safer by accepting federal funds in 2007 for a runway extension project with a combined total of 450 feet.

The additional runway length would have provided a larger safety margin for an “overrun” situation by an aircraft in some sort of distress.

Was the city acting in the best interests of the residents living near the airport by turning down this project?

The preamble to the Declaration of Independence states that citizens of our country shall be able to realize their aspirations in terms of a “pursuit of happiness.” The pilots and others who patronize Santa Monica Airport will continue to do so.

Steven Siry, president, Santa Monica Airport Association

Clarifies support of Assembly candidate

To the Editor:

In general, I thought the article, “Supporter of Butler opponent mounts petition drive to draft assemblywoman to run in redrawn South Bay district” (Argonaut, Sept. 8) did a good job of laying out the issues.

However, I have an issue with the reporter’s characterization that I appear “to be one of Torie Osborn’s biggest backers.”

I have not endorsed Osborn in this race, and I think it would be more accurate to say those that have – outgoing Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, along with Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl, former state Sen. Sheila Kuehl and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa – would be considered among Osborn’s biggest backers.

I can only assume that the reporter is basing his assumption on the fact some of my photos appear on Osborn’s website. The reporter asked me about this, and I told him that my work also appears on Assemblywoman Betsy Butler’s 53rd Assembly District website.

Unlike Osborn, however, Butler did not credit my work. I also gave the reporter a link to the photos on Butler’s website, and forwarded him an email from Jennifer Wonnacott, Butler’s communications director, requesting the photos.

The reporter should have included this information in his story.

The fact remains I support both Butler and Osborn. Hundreds of Butler’s current constituents – who wouldn’t know Osborn if she walked in their front door – pledged to support the assemblywoman if she stayed in the South Bay. My name was first on that petition.

It’s disappointing that Butler has chosen instead to run against Osborn, while abandoning her current constituents after only 10 months in office.

Marta Evry, Venice

Claims county’s defense of Marina traffic study is ‘weak’

To the Editor:

Re: “County contends traffic review is valid, criticizes group’s study” (Argonaut, Sept. 8):

The county of Los Angeles’ defense of its Marina del Rey traffic study is weak and lacks specificity. If you use their argument that they are not increasing development potential and just shifting it around, then one wonders why they even did a traffic study in the first place.

But they did. And We ARE Marina del Rey picked it apart, revealing major flaws in their assumptions and errors in their calculations, issues we knew existed but needed a traffic professional to identify and document.

For example, L.A. County is shifting development potential from hotel rooms and restaurant seats and converting it into the equivalent value in retail square feet. However, this actually increases development potential because the county is using a very low traffic trip rate for conversion of hotel and restaurant seats into retail use.

If they used a reasonable trip rate, significantly less retail would be converted and less retail would be built resulting in much lower traffic impacts.

Based on this, it is clear that the California Coastal Commission, at its upcoming hearing in Huntington Beach Oct. 5-7, must reduce L.A. County’s development potential, since decreasing it is the only way to mitigate the traffic impacts of current and future development proposed by L.A. County.

David Barish, co-director, We ARE Marina del Rey

Excited about Monarch Butterfly project

To the Editor:

They are here! They are here! The Monarch Butterflies are here and will stay till April. If you want Monarchs to visit your yard, you need to have their chosen food (picky eaters you know). What you need is the pretty plant called Asclepias (milkweed to us non-Latin readers). I just discovered a great source at the Armstrong’s Nursery at 7540 Sepulveda Blvd. in Westchester near Los Angeles International Airport.

No, I have no connection to Armstrong’s, and I’m sure other nurseries have these plants, but these plants are very hard to find and I saw these were super pretty and very sturdy. (I need sturdy plants, cause I can kill weak ones in a blink.)

The kicker here is the Monarchs couldn’t wait for you, so they have already laid eggs on these plants in the nursery. If you look on the underside of the leaves you can see a small white dot – that is a Monarch egg.

In four to five days this will turn into a beautiful yellow and black caterpillar and it will soon become a large Orange Monarch (two plants are best so you don’t run out of food).

This milkweed has an aroma that the Monarchs will search out to lay eggs. You can even put these plants on the balcony of your apartment and have Monarchs for your friends till April.

They hang around where this plant is. This is my kind of project; no work required, just water now and then. I sit outside and enjoy my private lot in life and nature.

James J. Kelley, Playa del Rey

Offers praise to St. Mark School

To the Editor:

I had a shock when there were 37 students in my son’s class and a substitute teacher for the first week of school.

My son was not happy and neither was I. This is a real situation in Venice. Schools are packed.

I wanted to let your readers know about St. Mark School, which I found to be a great alternative. I researched many other schools, many of which have waiting lists.

I was so happy to find St. Mark School with openings and right here in our neighborhood. St. Mark serves K-8 and is a small family-oriented school.

The students here are academically far above some surrounding area schools, and there is a wonderful music and sports program there too.

It didn’t matter that we are not Catholic, and there seems to be quite a mix of kids and ethnic backgrounds. The tuition is cheaper than the pre-school tuition and most importantly, after just two days, my son loves his new school. St. Mark is still accepting applications and will continue to do so.

With the small classes and smart teachers, every student gets the individual attention they need.

St. Mark students are also spearheading some wonderful community projects.

I feel it is important for my son to learn this principle at an early age.

I just wanted to recommend St. Mark School to your readers who might be looking for answers.

Angela Eren, Venice

Takes issue with classification of Marina as ‘city’

To the Editor:

“Villa Venetia development in Marina del Rey acquired by Archstone” (The Argonaut, Sept. 1):

Why does it make bells go off in my head and make the hair on my arms rise when I read, three times in this not so long article, our Marina community referred to as “city” by both Archstone’s chief executive officer and also executive vice president of operations for the west region? Why?

Because Marina del Rey is a marina, not a city. It is not a city because it is a marina and it also is not a city legally; it is a marina housed on county of Los Angeles territory. I am someone who has constantly written how the county of Los Angeles, in its helter-skelter, non master-plan activity in Marina del Rey, is concreting up to and even out over the waters of Marina del Rey, turning our Marina from boating and recreation into a city.

Now, the – according to this article – “second-largest owner” (ahem, lessee) “and operator of apartments in Marina del Rey” is repeatedly referring to our Marina as a city. Scary. Semantics, rightly or wrongly, set ideas in stone.

Is the repeated use of “city” by Archstone executives an accident? I don’t think so. A marina is a marina; a city is a city. These executives, I believe, know the difference.

Roslyn E. Walker, Marina del Rey