While the Los Angeles City Council has no legal authority over the Santa Monica Airport (SMO), it voted unanimously last Wednesday to close six operational flight schools at the airport and alter departure procedures. The vote will have no effect on current operations, although the moves have angered pilots, who wonder why a city council governing nearly four million people has no more important issues to discuss than subject matter over which it has no governing power. The airport is located in and operated by the city of Santa Monica.
But the symbolic vote was part of a continued effort to close the airport in 2015, headed, among others, by LA city councilman and local Santa Monica resident Bill Rosendahl, who said to the LA Times: "An airport makes no sense in that urban environment with all the noise, air pollution and flights over neighborhoods." But he never discusses how much noise, traffic congestion and air pollution would be produced by any alternative use of the large area of real estate, pilot groups have noted.
Coincidentlly, AOPA’s president and CEO, Craig Fuller, was at SMO the same day of the vote, attending a meeting with Friends of Santa Monica Airport (FOSMO) — an organization aimed at keeping the airport alive for future generations.
In a speech to a crowd of well over 100 people, Fuller pledged AOPA’s full support of the effort and said he is certain that the FAA will also do everything in its power to keep the airport operational. Prior to the speech, Fuller, AOPA vice president of local airport advocacy Bill Dunn, and other representatives from AOPA met with the board members of FOSMO to help develop a strategy for its mission.
While the fight over the airport property has been going on for years, it is certain to become increasingly bloody during the next couple of years. (Click here to read Pia Bergqvist’s blog Save Santa Monica Airport!)