LA Times Takes City of Santa Monica to Task

Newspaper blasts the city as the FAA has so far been unable to halt Santa Monica’s efforts to close the embattled airport.

Santa Monica Airport
An LA Times editorial defended Santa Monica Airport and chastised City Council over its attempts to shutter the historic airport.Flying

In a Sunday editorial, the LA Times took on an aviation-education role for the public in the greater Los Angeles area by chastising the Santa Monica City Council as it attempts to "make the airport [Santa Monica] so inhospitable and difficult to use — essentially 'starving' the airport of services — that tenants leave and planes stop flying in and out." The paper also detailed the airport's benefits, as well as outlining its role in the national transportation system.

Santa Monica City Council has been in a heated fight for years with the FAA and airport users over the city’s desire to close the field as quickly as possible, citing what Santa Monica calls noise and safety concerns. The city began issuing eviction notices to some tenants last week, even though the earliest the city believes it might close the field is July 2018.

Sounding more like AOPA, EAA or NBAA, the LA Times wrote Sunday, "Residents' complaints notwithstanding, there are plenty of compelling reasons to keep the airport running." The paper explained that while SMO's 90,000 annual takeoffs and landings are less than Van Nuys' 210,000 or even Hawthorne's 104,000, Santa Monica Airport still serves as "a crucial air-transportation artery in the region … and as a 'vital transportation hub,'" also zeroing in on the fact that SMO "isn't a frivolous playground for the '1-percenters.'"

The LA Times detailed the airport's value for business travelers, organ-transplant and animal-rescue flights, as well as its role as the home to Angel Flight West, the organization that last year completed nearly two flights each day carrying people with serious medical issues to regional treatment centers at no charge. "And in the event of a natural disaster, the airport could be an important port for rescue and supply operations," the paper said, not to mention the effect closing Santa Monica would have on an already crowded LAX.

At present, nothing short of a lawsuit filed by the FAA appears likely to slow Santa Monica's efforts to kill the airport, unless, of course, the city was to try something as dramatic as the city of Chicago's destruction of Meigs Field in 2003.