July 24, 2014
By Sarah Deener
Santa Monica voters will be faced with two competing ballot measures in November regarding the future of the California city’s embattled airport.
One, put forth by Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development Decisions and supported by AOPA and other aviation groups, would require a vote by residents before the city could make changes to land uses at Santa Monica Municipal Airport. The other, placed on the ballot July 22, leaves the door open to the city council closing the airport without voter approval. Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development Decisions denounced the competing amendment as misleading July 23.
“The City Council’s competing initiative is missing three magic words in its ballot question regarding the future of the airport, in that it doesn’t make clear that the Council can close the airport ‘without voter approval,’” said John Jerabek, a member of Santa Monica Voters for Open and Honest Development Decisions, in a media release. “This omission muddies the simple issue that should be before voters in November: whether Santa Monica voters are asked for their approval before politicians, developers and special interests can convert 227 acres of low-density airport land for their own purposes.”
The organization’s Santa Monica Voters Decide website provides information on the charter amendment supported by aviation groups, which garnered more than 15,500 signatures to place it on the November ballot. The measure would require voter approval for any city plan to change the use of low-density airport land for nonaviation purposes. The city council did not need to gather any signatures to place the competing measure on the ballot.
“Santa Monica voters will not be fooled by the City Council’s action tonight,” said Jerabek. “They make an empty promise that voters may be consulted on the redevelopment scheme they come up with, but voters are shut out of the question of whether it makes sense to redevelop 227 acres of low density land in the first place. Our initiative is honest and straightforward. The City must seek voter approval to change the use of low-density airport land, period. The voters will see a clear choice and pass the Voters Decide Charter Amendment over the objections of special interests.”
AOPA Pilot and Flight Training Managing Editor Sarah Deener is an instrument-rated private pilot and has worked for AOPA since 2009.
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