Santa Monica Measure D and the battle to preserve SMO and prevent the redevelopment of its 227 acres.
Our 97 year old Santa Monica Municipal Airport is under looming threat of closure by our City Council.
In direct response to this threat, Measure D was created and over 15,000 signatures were gathered in support.
YES on Measure D guarantees voters and actual vote on any future decisions regarding land use at the Santa Monica Municipal Airport.
Measure LC is the City Council's counter measure to D and not a single signature was gathered to place it on the ballot. This measure is the Council's attempt to deny voter participation in decisions to close SMO and re-develop its low-density land.
Key Measure LC language:
"...City Council shall have full authority, without voter approval, to...close all or part of the Airport to aviation use."
"However, this section shall not prohibit the City Council from approving ("without voter approval") the following on Airport land that has been permanently closed to aviation use: parks, public open spaces, and public recreation facilities; and the maintenance and replacement of existing cultural, arts and educational uses."
If LC passes, the above language added to our City Charter would allow the Council to begin full scale re-development at SMO "without voter approval". Council could begin construction on, a park (which city staff has clearly stated we cannot afford - see Measure D Document #1), unspecified recreational facilities (this could be a stadium for SMC), and the replacement of all existing cultural, arts and educational uses.
These categories can be applied immediately to almost 40 acres of airport land and would allow Santa Monica City College to massively expand their Bundy Campus with zero voter input.
Measure D gives VOTERS, and not the City Council, the right to decide whether or not we close the airport and begin the re-development process in the first place, and if so, exactly what form that development would take. Any re-development of airport land should require voter approval. Otherwise, the Council and their developer friends may continue to carve away pieces of airport land "without voter approval" until nothing is left.
Passage of Measure D will require a simple majority of voters to agree to close SMO in a general municipal election. (If 100 ballots are cast, 51 is the majority.) City Council would be forced to present voters with a clear and comprehensive plan for closing the airport and re-developing it's 227 low-density acres.
Measure D language addresses the City Council's "starvation" plan to effectively close the airport by eliminating fuel sales and aviation services.
There is no "ministerial" element to Measure D. In fact, California law forbids ballot measures from being "ministerial" in nature. Day-to-day airport management remains with the airport staff and the City Council with the advice of the Airport Commission. Measure D does not restrict the City Council from making positive changes at the airport to improve safety, noise, and pollution, or manage leases, and other routine matters.
Mr. David Goddard, Chair of the Santa Monica Airport Commission, confirms on the last page of his "SM Airport Commissioners Report 9/22/14 v6", that Measure D does not maintain the status quo or limit the City's discretionary approval over changes at SMO.
"This (Measure D) does NOT say "maintain the status quo". It only says "in a manner that supports its aviation purpose."
"So, if this (Measure D) passed, the city manager would still have discretionary approval."
As a result of the Santa Monica Airport Agreement between the City of Santa Monica and the FAA in 1984, no aircraft shall exceed a Single Event Noise Exposure Level (SENEL) of 95.0 dBA as measured at the Airport Noise Measuring Stations. Santa Monica is one of the very few airports that limit aircraft single event noise. An electric hand drill produces around 98 dB. No airport has limits more stringent than Santa Monica Municipal Airport.
In 2013, measured CNEL (Community Noise Equivalent Level) levels at all six of SMO's active noise monitors yielded results from 53.3 - 59.3 dB. Noise violations were down 14% from 2012-2013 to 134.
Total aircraft operations were down 7% from 2012 to 2013. Jet operations represent less than 15% of total operations and saw a slight 15% uptick from 2012-2013. From 2011-2012 jet operations were down 6%. Note that jet operations fluctuate up and down between 5-15% per year but have been declining overall for the last decade. This is clearly NOT the 30% year-to-year increases touted by the LC camp!
The above statistics and the below graph come directly from the "Santa Monica Airport Noise Management Program Annual Reports for 2012 & 2013"
What if a voter likes the airport but would like to see it reduce the number of flights and larger planes?
This question speaks directly to how unaware most voters are regarding operations at the Santa Monica Airport. Voters should take the time to look at the most recent SMO Annual Noise Report for real data about operations and noise.
First of all, only 15% of operations last year at the airport were jets. On average in 2013, less than 20 jets arrived and departed from SMO each day. This is hardly a large number especially compared to total traffic numbers on any of the roads or freeways surrounding SMO. South Bundy Drive, one of the major roads at the airport’s boundary, sees 40,000+ cars, trucks, and busses each day. Jet operations and total operations have been declining overall for the past 10 years. That is a fact verifiable by reading the above mentioned City report. Assertions that the number of jets using SMO is large and escalating exponentially are simply false.
Secondly, the Santa Monica Airport operates an active system of microphones to enforce the 95dB maximum noise level allowed for any aircraft that operates at our airport and financial penalties are assessed against violators. In fact, SMO’s noise limits are the most restrictive in the the nation and effectively limit the size and types of aircraft that are able to use our airport. This system does not allow the largest corporate aircraft to use SMO and last year only 132 noise violations were registered out of 95,152 takeoffs and landings. 100th of 1% of operations were in violation of our noise abatement procedures. The fact is, the airport is doing an exemplary job managing noise.
Finally, our National Airspace System consists primarily of Public Use Air Space and functions in some ways like our interstate highways. Airports are the on-ramps and off-ramps into this national system. Attempts to ban specific types of aircraft or limit access to our public air space have been and will continue to be meet with litigation by the Federal Government and the FAA. The active noise monitors, operational curfews, and other noise abatement procedures in place at SMO since the early ’80’s, do a excellent job at limiting the size and number of aircraft using our municipal airport.
Santa Monica Airport Faces Critical Ballot Measure
Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO) is at the center of a battle for its own survival and to keep the city from shortening the runway or closing the airport entirely. A dedicated group of aviators, including SMAA members, is leading the fight that moves to the voting booth next month.
This group is actively working for approval of a local ballot initiative in Santa Monica known as “Measure D.” It is also called “The Voters Decide Initiative” and would prevent any land use changes at the airport without a majority vote of Santa Monica residents. The airport supporters have been assisted extensively by AOPA and NBAA, and is continuing wide public outreach on the ballot question.
It’s important for the community: Closing SMO would eliminate 175 businesses and 1,500 jobs on the airport, as well as displacing 269 aircraft based there. It would eliminate a major component of the area’s disaster relief program, especially in an event where Interstates 405 and 10 are disabled and/or traffic-choked.
Over the last 30 years, the city has tried six times and squandered millions of tax-payer dollars to close the airport despite FAA and court rulings that have confirmed the land’s use as an airport. Measure D will make Santa Monica voters the only group that can decide to close the airport. It also prevents the city from stopping fuel sales or refusing to renew hangar leases, as the city has proposed.
The city is pursuing its counter-initiative, Measure LC, to override Measure D and control the airport's future without voter approval. Measure LC, written by the anti-airport City Council, allows immediate development on all land closed to airport uses without voter approval. It encourages partial or full airport closure as soon as possible, allowing the land to be utilized for high-density development.
More information is available through these sources:
• Visit the Santa Monica Airport Association website, the SMAA Facebook page, and SMAA's twitter's page. The association is currently seeking volunteers and media contacts to get their message out to the community.
• Santa Monica Voters Decide is on the web at www.smvotersdecide.com. The organization is actively seeking endorsements and donations to further the initiative before the polls open.
If you do not live in Santa Monica and cannot vote for Measure D, we encourage you to contact your friends and acquaintances in Santa Monica and urge them to vote YES for Measure D (and NO for Measure LC) on November 4th.