Los Angeles / SoCal Airports are critical assets in fighting wildfires.
NASA Damage Proxy Maps depicting areas likely damaged by the Woolsey Fire. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
This week, the horrific Malibu wildfires have been sweeping through the city, destroying hundreds of homes, closing the 101 Freeway and PCH and forcing evacuations just nine miles from Santa Monica’s city limits. It’s worth noting that the SoCal network of 18+ smaller airports, including the Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO), play a key role in protecting people, their homes and businesses from disasters like these destructive wildfires. Aerial firefighting equipment including the “Super Scooper” air tankers based at Van Nuys, fire attack helicopters at the Whiteman Airport and DC10 air tankers based at San Bernardino have been serving our communities with valor.
The Malibu wildfires come less than less than a year after the December 7, 2017 Skirball fire in the Sepulveda Pass, which were only five miles from Santa Monica’s city limits. SoCal’s smaller airports, with their available runways, taxiways, fuel, maintenance and FAA air traffic services, are crucial assets in keeping fires like the Skirball and Malibu wildfires from quickly burning out of control and consuming whole cities. The picture above right shows Santa Paula airport full of firefighting aircraft during the Thomas fire of 2017.
There is no doubt that SMO serves a key role in disaster relief especially when danger strikes inside our community. Yet, Santa Monica city politicians continue to ignore their own “All Hazards Mitigation Plan”, which identifies SMO as “critical and essential infrastructure”.
See pages 37-39 @ https://www.smgov.net/OEM/AllHazardsMitigationPlan.pdf
In their zeal to close and redevelop the airport, the SM City Council consistently makes decisions that threaten the safety of its residents. City officials have chosen to shorten SMO’s single runway from 4,993 feet to 3,500. Current plans to spend over $3 million taxpayer dollars to remove pavement at the airport would rule out the facilities use by larger firefighting and disaster-relief aircraft. This needless project, with its enormous price tag, would accomplish only one thing, making our City and our citizens less safe. This unsafe and fiscally irresponsible project must be stopped!
The Santa Monica City Council’s stated policy is to continue to cripple and ultimately attempt to close SMO completely in 2029, just ten years away. If our short-sighted politicians ultimately choose to close the facility in 2029, the loss of SMO as an airport, along with the City’s stated “creative reuse” of its structures and the loss of the airport’s controlled airspace, would eliminate the incalculable value of SMO in times of disaster while greatly exacerbating population density and traffic congestion within the City limits and neighboring communities forever.
The SM City Council’s actions threaten the safety and prosperity of the 93,000+ residents of Santa Monica and surrounding communities.
SPEAK UP FOR SAFETY! If you are concerned about Santa Monica City Council airport policy, you can contact city council at: [email protected] .