May 8, 2014
By Elizabeth A Tennyson
A new website launched May 8 is making it easier for those who want to preserve Santa Monica Municipal Airport to show their support for a proposed charter amendment that would put any decisions to redevelop airport land in the hands of the voters.
The Santa Monica Voters Decide website answers common questions about the amendment, provides the text of the proposal, and allows visitors to register their support and make financial contributions to the amendment campaign.
“SMO is a valuable community asset and Santa Monica residents deserve to have a voice in its future. We fully support this proposed charter amendment because it would let voters, not developers or politicians, make the decisions about any plans to redevelop airport property,” said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of airports.
Dunn and Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airport and state advocacy, recently spent four days in Santa Monica, meeting with community leaders, local aviation advocates, and airport business owners and tenants to discuss the proposed amendment.
“The effort to get this issue on the ballot is really gaining momentum and we’re pleased to see so many aviation supporters getting engaged with this fight,” said Dunn. “Several thousand individuals have already signed the petition to put the amendment on the ballot, but many more signatures are needed to ensure the measure gets to voters in the next local elections.”
Santa Monica residents are encouraged to sign the petition now being circulated at public locations citywide.
AOPA has been heavily engaged in efforts to preserve the airport, which delivers some $250 million in annual economic impact, hosts 175 businesses, and is responsible for 1,500 jobs in the city. The field also serves as a vital general aviation reliever airport in the congested L.A. Basin. The fate of the airport has broader significance as well. More than 200 airports nationwide operate under similar agreements with the federal government. If Santa Monica is allowed to disregard its obligations and close the airport, other fields could suffer a similar fate.
Director of Government Affairs and Executive Communications Elizabeth Tennyson joined AOPA in 1998, the same year she earned her private pilot certificate. She also holds an instrument rating and enjoys jumping out of planes almost as much as flying them.
AOPA expressed concern in a meeting with town officials from East Hampton, New York, that restrictions proposed to curb airport noise “overwhelmingly” generated by transient commercial flights would unfairly burden traditional airport users.
West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin on Feb. 18 signed into law a bill that will add liability protection for land owners who allow aircraft operations at their privately owned airstrips and farms.
Montana awarded more than $700,000 in grants and loans to airports across the state Jan. 22, reinvesting general aviation fuel taxes into the aviation system.
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