By Chris Thrasher
Local Resident 

The Closing of Santa Monica Airport Would Put the Entire Westside in Jeopardy

Just 7 residents are behind the movement to close the airport. Why do they get so much official attention?


October 9, 2016

Santa Monica Airport is an integral part of the national airspace system, a reliever for LAX and the jumping off point for emergency plans affecting hundreds of thousands of people in Los Angeles.

Dear Editor,

I find it alarming the level of untruths Santa Monica's City officials will tell in their effort to rationalize their illicit actions aimed at strangling and/or closing the airport ("Health Protected by Eviction of Airport Tenant, Santa Monica Official Says," October 3, 2016).

Nelson Hernandez (senior advisor to the City Manager on Airport Affairs) raises the issue of "Safety of residents" yet neglects to include the fact that closure of the only two providers of fuel at the airport would in itself put everyone in not just Santa Monica but the entire west side of L.A. in jeopardy, serious jeopardy.

Santa Monica airport is the staging and jumping off point for virtually every community's emergency evacuation and disaster relief plan of action on the west side of Los Angeles. It is from this vital airport that almost all search and rescue efforts, resupply efforts and other emergency services will base, in the event of a major quake or other disaster.

Nelson Hernandez neglects to offer any sort of plan by the City of Santa Monica to fill the void in these emergency plans that closure of the airport would assuredly cause. Why? Simple: Safety is not the problem.

If we are going to talk about safety, let's talk about the whole picture and not just the little piece of the puzzle that Nelson Hernandez wishes to speak on. I think most folks with even one shred of common sense will understand a couple things:

1. It's not a genuine safety issue at all. The City officials will say whatever sounds good and which they believe the public will buy into. Santa Monica airport is actually one of the safest airports in the United States. Not the constant danger that the City officials would have everyone believe.

2. The highways are far more dangerous and polluting than this little airport ever could hope to be yet the City has made no attempts to stem the flow of traffic on the freeways which pass through its boundaries.

There are roughly seven residents who are at the foundation of the anti-airport movement in Santa Monica. Unfortunately, they are also the only real political activists the City really has, so the City Council members are afraid to anger them for fear of losing the next election.

Santa Monica Airport is an integral part of the national airspace system, a reliever for LAX and the jumping off point for emergency plans affecting hundreds of thousands of people in Los Angeles.

Again, the City has not offered any alternative plan of action to fill the void that closing the airport would cause in every other westside's community emergency plan. The City clearly has no regard for the importance of other communities emergency plans nor for the residents who would be in harms way by such an action on the part of the Santa Monica City Council.

If there was a major disaster tomorrow the only way to get supplies and workers into the westside, if the freeways are down, would be KSMO. That is a very simple fact. The City cannot be permitted to close the airport without having alternative plans in place because nobody knows when the next disaster will strike, but we do know that without KSMO as a jumping off base, the entire westside of LA from Malibu to south of LAX could be rendered inaccessible.

When the Loma Prieta quake hit in 1989, General Aviation aircraft moved 500,000 pounds of supplies into Watsonville airport in one 24 hour period of time. This airlift potentially saved hundreds of lives and prevented mass chaos. How in the world the City Council of Santa Monica believes it has the authority to directly effect the emergency plans of other communities is just beyond me.

The City of Santa Monica is not going to succeed in closing the airport now or ever, and no amount of rationalization is going to change these facts. Its truly disturbing that Mr Hernandez seems so comfortable with the elimination of this airport without consideration for the overall effects doing so would have.

Thankfully, the FAA and the Courts, as they have done several times in the past, will step in and prevent the City of Santa Monica from breaking its long time, binding agreements, no matter how many temper tantrums the City officials throw. Its just not going to happen and it sure as H isn't a genuine safety issue. If safety was so almighty important to the City Council of S.M. they would make absolutely sure not to compromise the emergency action plans of the hundreds of thousands of citizens which would be compromised by a sudden closure of KSMO.

Chris Thrasher

Santa Monica

Santa Monica Airport is an integral part of the national airspace system, a reliever for LAX and the jumping off point for emergency plans affecting hundreds of thousands of people in Los Angeles. Santa Monica Airport is an integral part of the national airspace system, a reliever for LAX and the jumping off point for emergency plans affecting hundreds of thousands of people in Los Angeles.


Reader Comments

VeniceCitizen writes:

Umm..isn’t the Santa Monica airport at the junction of the Charnock and Santa Monica fault lines?

Schoonerbob writes:

@Dave; the area to which you refer was part of the 1984 Settlement Agreement. The FAA agreed to non aviation use of that area as part of that settlement agreement. Your assertion that anyone claimed the sole goal of developers are high rises is simply incorrect. Nobody said it will only be high rises. IF the airport is in fact closed, there will be development that is not a park. Of that I for one am certain. It's a safe bet that another settlement agreement will be reached between the City and the FAA, similar to what they did back in 1984. I suspect that will occur very soon now and that the airport will remain for several more decades under such an agreement. Both sides will get something new but in the end the airport will remain.

Flyguy writes:

The author of the Letter neglected to include a rather telling detail. Several years ago, the FAA offered to put in an arresting device at the ends of the runway but the city declined that safety improvement. Yes, that improvement would come with more Grant assurances the city would have to abide by, however the then City Council declined to install the safety system. Now we fast forward to a City official claiming it's a safety issue at the basis of their attempts to close the airport. Apparently the safety issues really aren't all that important to the city in reality though. At least not more important then the installation of overrun protection devices to the runway. The City made no offer to install the system itself, thus avoiding the acceptance of federal monies for that purpose and thus avoiding more grant assurance obligations. However they sure could have done the installation anyway. Why? simple, safety is just a smoke screen and not the real truth at all

Flyguy writes:

In 1989 the Loma quake resulted in the closure of both sfo and oak. Watsonville became the staging point for the relief effort. The fact that only one person died in Watsonville is testament to the effectiveness of the general aviation aircraft who flew in 500K pounds of supplies. If a big quake hits SoCal LAX may very well be closed like sfo and oak were. As such KSMO has been listed by the expert planners as the jumping off point. Assuming that LAX would be operational would be quite foolhardy. So the arguments of land at the beach, the freeways (probably jammed) and LAX will be next to impossible. I realize some won't accept that but it appears the FAA does and for this reason among many others is insuring that KSMO remains an airport, open to all. The emergency plans of all the neighboring communities pretty well trump the desire for a park imo.

Dave writes:

Uh.... The twelve acres that were once the site of an airplane parking lot at SMO are now being developed into park land. I'm sure this FACT is difficult for airport supporters to digest because it pokes a hole in their biggest myth, that the land at SMO will be sold to developers whose sole intention is to build high rises there. But, don't let me stop you guys, spin away!!

Donald writes:

What alarmist misinformation! The writer claims that during Loma Prieta quake that the Watsonville Airport “potentially saved hundreds of lives and prevented mass chaos.” What?! TOTOAL garbage. _ONE_ person died in Watsonville from the quake. According to the official fire reports there was “no significant Urban Search and Rescue requirements” Watsonville is out in the sticks, 30 miles from San Jose Airport. Santa Monica is just 5 miles straight down Lincoln Blvd from LAX. This writer wants you to forget that simple fact.

PPLattorney writes:

UNDERFLIGHTPATH - I would be very cautious with Doxxing people. Courts have been taking an increasingly negative view of people who post others personal information online or publicly. Harassment doesn't even have to occur. Its the negligent exposure of an individual to potential for harassment that is the liability basis. Many pilots are also members of protected groups whose personal information has been found to be protected to a higher threshold than the average joe. I gather from your comment that you are part of a group and have tasked several members with this sort of action. You may be putting the entire group at risk. I am not pro or anti airport. I simply read the story and the comments and saw your comments and thought you might benefit from a bit of a warning. Posting anyone's personal info online is a risky thing to do. It is surprisingly easy to discover the source of such postings. Defamation is a arena of law where a common error is assuming to know the law.

OPGuy writes:

I am a homeowner & supporter of SMO! City council & supporters are acting on pure emotions and not facts with very deep pockets of builders who will profit bringing yet more unwanted cars and people into the city. The airport & land are a gem in this city. It is a very nasty battle. While most uninformed supporters of closing the airport do not realize is without SMO, the so called noise and pollution they use as a reason will be replaced by lowering the ceiling for jets in and out of LAX to fly LOWER over SANTA MONICA, MAR VISTA, VENICE, much more noise and pollution!!! Don't mess with the FAA! They will prevail. The importance of SMO is huge for disaster and the agreement will stay in place. Supporters have the FAA......With an election upon us may there be position change of council member! STOP SPENDiNG MY TAX DOLLARS, I DO NOT APPROVE YOUR TACTICS.

Mystified writes:

Has anyone here ever tried to land a C-130 in a park or on a beach? If the West Side is cut off by an earthquake, how do you propose getting supplies to the beach? The naïveté of those who believe the lies of the City Council at the behest of seven selfish people and greedy land developer cohorts is astounding. There is simply no good reason to destroy this 100 year public resource and under the 1948 agreement it cannot be anything other than an airport. Since 1954, the City has run it's head into a brick wall. It is a waste of public money, of which recently according to the City Attorney over $3,000,000 has been spent on frivolous lawsuits. Image to what better and noble purposes that money could have been spent on. It's time for the NIMBY to end and for the appreciation to resume.

Aerobaticpilot writes:

@AlanL: 'When you have nothing else...' Are you ffin KIDDING?!?! Have you even read the letter from the FAA to the City recently? Do you think the FAA is joking or playing around? The Pro Airport people don't need anything else. They have the FAA in their corner and the FAA has the authority to really stick it to the City. Listen, I like the idea of a great big green park as much as the next guy but we all know that is never going to happen. Even if the City were somehow able to close the airport, there is little chance of it being turned into just a park. I know about LC and it doesn't matter. LC has loopholes that permit development without voter approval and they will do exactly that when the time comes, if it comes. IMO, the City should stop before the FAA hits them so hard, by the time they wake, their 1960s clothes will be back in style. Fighting the FAA is a losing effort


I haven't really been following this as much as I probably should. However, I have never bought the Park story. I know that is what the anti airport people claim but none of the residents I have discussed this with, believe for one second that the space will ever become a park. Its worth too much to developers to have that happen. Its a nice warm and fuzzy dream but I think that will be all it is. As far as the City goes, I read the recent document from the FAA to the City and the City is flirting with disaster if you ask me. The FAA doesn't screw around. They will have the Dept of Transportation shut off funding to Santa Monica in the blink of an eye. Its what they do when a City or Town acts as Santa Monica has been acting. Usually the loss of DoT funding results in a complete reversal of attitude from the City or Town. Santa Monica can not afford to lose its DoT funding. The city leaders are playing with fire here I think and should stop before it blows up in their faces.

StopTheGreed writes:

The personal greed exhibited by this vocal minority in Santa Monica is disgusting and against everything our country, or any form of human decency, stands for. Hey, I have an idea. I think I'll buy a house next to a power plant and then force the city to close it so I don't have to look at the poles.

AlanL writes:

Chris Thatcher is a pilot instructor at Proteus Aviation, a true fact he fails to mention. In case of a disaster we have a beach, playing fields, parks, and roadways that can be used if ever needed. The city's disaster plan includes all of these as well as the airport, and who knows, maybe the great park will be on the list soon. Fear and lies and attacks are liberally used when you have nothing else.

Zuma writes:

Truly Trump level bullsheet in this screed. Do you think we are that stupid?

Dave writes:

The amount of spin in this letter is astonishing.

ParksNotJets writes:

Chris Thrasher (the Pilot from Thousand Oaks) -- 15,500 Santa Monica Voters support the Park. See: Also, there are even more people who couldn't vote from WLA, Venice, MDR. Lastly, here are 300 specific park supporters who signed a letter --

UnderFlightPath writes:

Just seven residents are behind the movement to close the airport? Are you kidding me? On our street alone over 50 people voiced support for shutting down SMO at the last Venice neighborhood meeting and SMO receive thousands of complaints each month. The noise, disturbance, safety risks, and pollution created by flights in and out of SMO are an unacceptable nuisance for over 130,000 citizens. Currently there are several individuals collecting information on the pilots that do not obey the fly neighborly program or deviate from FAA regulations and are posting their home address and contact information publicly.


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