Closing Santa Monica Airport: Something does not add up

Santa Monica Airport Development

Closing Santa Monica Airport: Something does not add up

Opponents of Santa Monica airport, including all seven members of the Santa Monica City Council and a tiny minority of Santa Monica households, .0001%, from August 2015 airport reports, are working to close the airport, they claim, on the grounds of noise, safety and pollution. Their arguments make no sense and don’t add up. Let’s briefly look at the arguments;

  • Safety
  • Aircraft are THE safest form of transportation in the City of Santa Monica. See SMPD road transportation accidents, deaths, injuries and drunk driving statistics for any recent period you choose. The City’s worst transport disaster was the 2003 Farmers Market accident, 10 deaths, 80 injuries. Now compare that with Santa Monica Airport and citywide aircraft accident statistics — using FAA and NTSB statistics. It’s not even close. Clearly, Santa Monica Airport poses no major safety threat to citizens.

  • Noise
  • SMO is one of the top four most highly regulated and quiet airports in the nation, as described by the City’s own independent noise expert. The most recent, August 2015 airport noise report shows 99.7% compliance with stringent noise standards.

  • Pollution
  • No credible evidence exists for major pollution at SMO. Period.

    If the above arguments do not add up, why are the City Council and a small minority of residents trying so hard to close the airport and develop it? In two words, Development and profit. AKA: a “Land Grab”.

  • Development
  • The City and surrounding Westside get a positive economic benefit of $275.2 MM per year, from Santa Monica airport, as detailed in a city-sponsored study (page 20). If the airport was to close, residents would have to pay higher taxes or suffer fewer critical services, such as fire and safety, to offset the loss. If airport land is developed into a retail, business and residential “park” similar, for example, to what has occurred in Downtown and the Water Garden complex, then three key sources of revenue will begin to flow.

  • Property taxes.
  • Sales tax revenue.
  • Business tax revenue.
  • Furthermore, all other regions of Santa Monica and the Westside would be able to build into airspace previously reserved for the airport resulting in more traffic and congestion for those living near Ocean Avenue In summary, Development equals profit for airport neighbors and land developers. How much profit? For the City, in the order of hundreds of millions of tax dollars over just ten years. Look at the current city tax base of around $350m per year to get an idea. A closed Santa Monica Airport will never become a recreational park. If the airport were to close it would be developed into something like Century City West.

  • Profit
  • With the aforementioned “Land Grab” there is profit aplenty for the small vocal minority of landowners surrounding the airport, who by the way, purchased their properties at a discount because an airport was close by. And don’t forget the profits to be made by Land Developers. Here’s how:

  • Developers.
  • If SMO were to close, developers could then build, lease and/or sell and reap huge profits from the 200+ ocean view acres currently used as an airport. This is not to mention the development potential of the entire Westside once the “protective bubble” (which restricts the height of buildings in a 5 mile radius of the airport) of the airport is gone. Sunset Park and Ocean Park as well as the character of adjacent Santa Monica neighborhoods would be destroyed.

  • Anti-airport residents.
  • Their home values rise at least 20-30% if the airport closes. In an area of $1m+ homes a nice $200k-$300k + bonus, just for loudly complaining and deceiving other city residents with arguments that do not add up.

To sum up the Santa Monica Airport Land Grab:

You may ask, “What’s wrong with the City and a few people making a large profit?” The problem is that it would come at a very high price for the majority of Santa Monica and Westside residents. More traffic, more congestion and more development will inevitably follow if the Santa Monica Airport is closed. Is this what Santa Monica and Westside residents want? Traffic, congestion and rampant development are among the top concerns of all Westside residents. Not paying attention to the details will enable the small minority (with big financial interests) harm the quality of life for the rest of us.

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  • Jay Jonstone

    Ont important point that the article missed is that the FAA must be repaid the original grant the city was given to build the airport in the first place. That would be a $40 Million bill due immediately upon closure.

  • Art Friedman

    Unforeseen consequences: Under FAA rules, drones are currently not allowed within the airspace (4.6 mile radius and 2500 feet above) of a towered airport. If the airport closes, the few airplanes it currently serves may be replaced by swarms of drones…

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