Why Tuesday's Vote To Close SM Airport is a Huge Victory
Closure resolution reaffirms 1981 resolution that the City's official policy is to close the Airport
August 28, 2016
It is my great pleasure to forward City Council actions that we demanded for over 4 years!! The "FBO policy" which authorizes the eviction of Atlantic Aviation – which accounts for 90% of jet flight operations – is attached.
This vote represents nearly 100% victory by Sunset Park Anti-Airport (SPAA), dedicated activists such as David Klass, Ben Wang, David Goddard and Alan Levenson, and outraged residents such as yourself. Here are the key points.
First, we have fought to evict Atlantic Aviation, which accounts for 90% of jet flight operations. The FBO policy authorizes City manager Rick Cole to begin legal action to evict Atlantic Aviation and other "FBOs" with a 30-day notice to be served on or before September 15. We will be in constant communication to see that that happens.
Second, aviation leases ended July 1, 2015, but were extended with temporary leases and even a vote by the City Council to give 3-year leases – both of which we defeated with the help of outraged residents such as yourself. The FBO policy makes sure no new aviation leases will be given.
Third, the City passed a March 2016 leasing policy that prevents aviation businesses that generate flight operations from locating at the Airport. But a "wink wink" policy of allowing existing aviation businesses to stay without leases was in effect – for example all 15 jets housed at Gunnell Aviation stayed after Gunnell Aviation left. The FBO resolution ends this practice – we hope!! We will be in constant communication to make sure it does.
Fourth, SPAA for 4 years has urged the City to divide land use issues from runway issues. The FAA wants the runway open, but the City can force out 98% of runway users located at the Airport. Once they leave, 2% of flight operations is OK until court tests end. Both measures recognize for the first time that the runway might stay open, but most everything else can close now.
Fifth, the Closure resolution reaffirms the 1981 resolution that the City's official policy is to close the Airport. I found that 1981 resolution, after City staff had ignored it for 30 years.
Sixth, activists such as David Goddard and Ben Wang found that the Western Parcel – about 50 acres – is not under the 1948 Instrument of Transfer and can be permanently closed to aviation use immediately. Separately, the runway can be shortened thereafter – making large jet landings impossible. These measures are authorized to begin.
Seventh, a true "double clutch" resolution to close the Airport was adopted. I originated that phrase, based on driving an old "double clutch" bus around Harvard Square to help pay for my college education. This measure (i) sets policy to close the Airport, setting up a court decision on the question, but (ii) avoids steps that might trigger a federal injunction.
And eighth, a definitive timeline to get all this done is established: September 15 to begin evictions; December 31 to begin offering "legal minimum" aviation services; and March 31, 2017 for the City Manager to come back to City Council and residents to discuss what has been accomplished and what has fallen short. We will give you the biggest 'heads up" you have ever seen for March 31!!
In conclusion, a $2 billion public resource is being taken out the hands of a very few users, many of whom are wealthy, and made available to 90,000 residents. We look to Airport2Park to lead that effort. Take down those fences!!
Law Offices of Jonathan Stein