Bergamot Station Developer Makes Major Contribution to Effort to Close SM Airport
September 8, 2014
Making clear that the effort to close Santa Monica Airport is inextricably bound to the potential to redevelop low-density airport land, a developer was awarded the right to redevelop Bergamot Station just days after making a huge contribution to the committee trying to keep Santa Monica voters from having a say on whether to close the airport.
Jeff Worthe, president of the Worthe Real Estate Group, made a $10,000 contribution on September 5, 2014, to the committee supporting Measure LC, which the Santa Monica City Council placed on the ballot to prevent Santa Monica voters from voting on whether to close Santa Monica Airport and redevelop the land. Just days later, on September 10, 2014, the City Council awarded Worthe Real Estate Group the sole right to develop Bergamot Station, a major piece of city-owned land.
"Jeff Worthe's huge contribution makes a couple of things clear: first, city-connected developers understand that closing the airport could be a huge bonanza for them, while leaving the rest of us to deal with the traffic and congestion that will result," said John Jerabek, a member of Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development Decisions, which is sponsoring Measure D. "Second, the timing of the contribution and the City Council's vote to award the right to develop Bergamot Station smells like a back room deal."
Worthe's contribution also makes clear that while anti-airport activists have characterized their campaign as citizen-supported, in fact major funding is coming from developers. Developers such as Worthe Real Estate Group could make millions if the airport closed and the land was developed with homes.
"The anti-airport activists and their developer friends are motivated by greed and financial gain," Jerabek observed. "It's time for the voters of Santa Monica to see past their hypocrisy. Measure D is honest and straightforward. The City must seek voter approval to change the use of airport land, period. We look forward to prevailing in November."
Jerabek noted that the low-density land use at Santa Monica Airport protects the community from higher-intensity development that would add to Santa Monica's well-known traffic problems. Just as importantly, airspace restrictions around Santa Monica Airport protects residents from the development of high-rise buildings within many miles of the runway in all directions.
The Voters Decide Charter Amendment has two main requirements:
1. Voter approval will be required for any City plan to change the use of low-density airport land for non-aviation purposes.
2. Unless voters approve such a change, the City shall continue to keep airport land in low-density aviation use.
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. Paid for by Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development Decisions – Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association with Support from Local Businesses, Residents and Pilots, Major Funding by National Business Aviation Association and Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.