July 18, 2014
By Benét J. Wilson
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article listed the incorrect date for the ballot measure. Santa Monicans will vote Nov. 4.
The committee for Santa Monicans For Open and Honest Development Decisions has received notification that a ballot measure on land use changes at Santa Monica Municipal Airport has officially qualified for the November 2014 ballot.
The Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters informed the city of Santa Monica that it has ruled that residents can vote Nov. 4 on an initiative requiring a vote from residents before the city can make any changes to land uses at Santa Monica Municipal Airport. Nearly 16,000 Santa Monica voters have signed a petition that will give them a say in future land developments that have an impact on the quality of life and traffic in the city.
AOPA, along with the National Business Aviation Association, the Santa Monica Airport Association, and local aviation businesses, have supported the effort of local residents to have a say in land-use decisions in their city. “The number of signatures collected on this issue is unprecedented and was the largest number in the history of any ballot measure in the city,” said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of airport advocacy. “City residents clearly want to have a say in decisions that will impact the face of the city forever.”
A Part 16 filing was submitted with the FAA on July 2 to oppose efforts by the city, which claims its obligations with the FAA expire, to close the airport on July 1, 2015. The FAA, however, has long claimed that the airport must operate long-term under an earlier agreement with the city. Additionally, the Part 16 filing argues that the city’s acceptance of FAA airport improvement funds obligates the city to comply with FAA grant assurances until 2023.
“Voters will resolve one simple question: should Santa Monica voters be asked for their approval before politicians, developers and special interests can convert 227 acres of low-density airport land for their own purposes,” said John Jerabek, a member of Santa Monica Voters for Open and Honest Development Decisions, the sponsor of the initiative. “We think the clear answer is yes. Voters have a right to decide a land use issue that would fundamentally impact the character of Santa Monica.”
Jerabek noted that the low-density land use at Santa Monica Airport protects the community from higher-intensity development that would add to Santa Monica’s well-known traffic problem. Just as importantly, airspace restrictions around Santa Monica Airport protect residents from the development of high-rise buildings within many miles of the field in all directions.
“The residents of Santa Monica have sent a clear signal that they want to determine the future of their airport, and we’re pleased they’ll get that chance in the November election,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “Voters recognize that the airport is a valuable and irreplaceable asset, and they don’t want to lose it. AOPA will continue to support their efforts to protect the airport and ensure it stays open and operating for many years to come.”
AOPA eNewsletter and Social Media Editor Benét J. Wilson joined AOPA in 2011. She is working on her private pilot certificate.
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