Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Airport Petitions

 


Wow! 15700 signatures collected at local markets, to preserve SMO for aviation. Which you already knew, if you’ve been to a market anywhere near Santa Monica recently.

As you probably also know, residents around the airport have spearheaded a drive to close the airport and build, well anything else. Their first choice would be to convert the airport to a large park. As if the airports 227 acre land grant weren’t worth 227 Billion dollars, or thereabouts, to developers.

Rather than comment further on the topic, we’re going to present you with the press releases issued by the opposing groups.

Santa Monica Voters Deliver More Than 15,700 Signatures

For Charter Amendment More than needed to qualify for

November Ballot

Proponents of a City Charter Amendment requiring voter approval for any plan to redevelop the land currently occupied by Santa Monica Airport submitted more than 15,700 signatures to the Santa Monica City Clerk today. The signature total is approximately 6,000 more than required by law.

“In spite of efforts to stop the voters from speaking on this issue, voters will now have a chance to decide if 227 acres of the most valuable land in California will remain in low-density airport use or whether politicians and special interests will force their plans on the people of Santa Monica,” said John Jerabek, a board member of Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development Decisions, the sponsor of the Charter Amendment.

“Politicians, developers, and special interests have a long history of seeking this low-density airport land for their high-density development schemes. Since as far back as the 1960s, they’ve studied or proposed everything from shopping centers, to office buildings and parking structures, to a huge gated mixed-use community,” Jerabek added. “In fact, politicians have submitted about a dozen major plans. One massive office development proposed in 1989 was so out of sync with community sentiment that a referendum was required to rescind approval. 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.”

The Charter Amendment has two main requirements:

1. Voter approval will be required for any City plan to change the use of airport land for non-aviation purposes.

2. Unless voters approve such a change, the City shall continue to keep airport land in aviation use.

“This Charter Amendment is an insurance policy for the citizens of this city. If the legal status of the land changes, the City can make whatever land use decisions it wants. But, it must get voter approval rather than listening to a few political insiders,” said Lauren McCollum, a local businesswoman and one of the Amendment proponents. “The City has wasted millions in fruitless litigation with the federal government at the behest of a few pressure groups. But the courts have made it clear that the law requires the City to continue operating this land as a low-density airport,” McCollum concluded.

Flora Yin, a Santa Monica voter and another of the Amendment proponents, commented on the overwhelmingly positive response by voters during the signature gathering process: “Voters like me are tired of the insider political game that has gone on too long. It’s a very simple Charter Amendment and people agreed with us and quickly added their names to our campaign. The only people against voters having a voice before the airport can be used for other purposes are a few politicians and pressure groups.”

About Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development Decisions: The Santa Monica Voters Decide Initiative is being led by Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development Decisions. The committee believes the City and airport opponents have not been forthcoming with voters and taxpayers about redevelopment and land-use plans for the valuable airport property. The committee is supported by local pilots, businesses and residents and receives major funding from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

Aviation Lobby Group Turns in Signatures in Effort to Block

Air Quality, Other Changes at Santa Monica Airport

A deep-pocketed lobbying group turned in petitions to the Santa Monica City Clerk today (June 10), in an effort to block the city’s efforts to reduce or eliminate the health and safety hazards from Santa Monica Airport (SMO).

The Washington, D.C.-based Airport Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) is hoping the tens of thousands of dollars it poured into its effort through paid signature gatherers has produced enough signatures to overcome a campaign against the measure by a coalition of neighborhood groups with unpaid volunteers.

Community groups across Santa Monica advised their members not to sign the initiative. Many residents who did sign have asked the City Clerk to rescind their signatures. The community campaign was effective enough to push the price-per-signature the AOPA paid from about $4 originally to as much as $20 this week. Sworn affidavits have been collected regarding false statements used by the gatherers, including claims that the state or the City Council itself backed the initiative; that the measure would reform SMO to make it pollution-free; that the City Council had approved massive housing developments at SMO; one even claimed that no jets currently use the airport!

The City Clerk and the County Registrar of Voters have 30 business days to determine whether valid signatures total at least 15% of Santa Monica voters. Other key procedural requirements and deadlines also must be met before the initiative makes it onto the ballot.

In response to AOPA’s submission of signatures, Airport2Park, the organization residents formed last year to turn the airport into a great park, issued the following statement:

“The AOPA has spent freely to try to buy a spot for its measure on the November ballot. It’s prepared to spend much more in its effort to block the city’s desire to increase airport rents to market level and to mitigate SMO’s current negative health and safety impacts, and prevent Santa Monica from ultimately closing the airport and building a great park. The incredible effort by local volunteers to counter the AOPA-funded signature gatherers was a wonderful example of democracy in action, and those efforts will continue if this deceptive measure does qualify for the November ballot. In that case, A2P is confident that the voters of Santa Monica will see through and defeat this special-interest power grab.”

 

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