Santa Monica Airport Supporters Fight Back with Petitions

Courtesy Santa Monica Daily Press, Daniel Archuleta

With only about a year left until the July 2015 deadline, when the Santa Monica city council claims it can take back a large parcel of land currently occupied by the Santa Monica Airport, airport supporters are fighting back with signed petitions that were turned in to the city clerk's office this week. The petitions were in support of adding a charter amendment on the ballot for the city's elections in November that would require voter approval for any changes to the Southern California airport land aside from aviation use.

The petition was funded by AOPA and launched by Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development Decisions. The organization said it submitted more than 15,700 petitions to the Santa Monica City Clerk on Tuesday afternoon.

"Politicians, developers and special interests have a long history of seeking this low-density airport land for their high-density development schemes," said John Jerabek, a board member of Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development Decisions. "This Charter Amendment will require that voters be consulted in advance for a change, ensuring that open community dialogue precedes any new direction or scheme at SMO."

In order for the measure to be put on the November ballot, 15 percent of the registered voters of the city of Santa Monica, or roughly 9,100 verified signatures, are needed. The city has 30 days to verify the signatures.

Christian Fry, a member of the Santa Monica Airport Association, who helped hand in the petitions, said: "Now the work begins to educate the people about the issue. The ballot initiative is a step in the right direction, but we have to make the voters understand the importance of Santa Monica Airport."

But supporters of a closure of SMO continue the fight on their end. A group of Santa Monicans filed a lawsuit against the petitions on May 9. On May 13, the Santa Monica City Council voted unanimously to draft a counter ballot to "protect the City Council's discretion to manage the airport, including Council's authority to terminate particular land uses and leases," according to the meeting's agenda.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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