City Council Approves Plan to Close Santa Monica Airport by 2028
Reprinted From a Santa Monica Mirror Article Dated February 6, 2023
City will now be able to plan for the airport’s closure following January 24 meeting
By Dolores Quintana
The Santa Monica Airport reached its 100th anniversary in 2022 and the City of Santa Monica now has plans in the works to close the airport by 2028. The City Council officially approved the process of closing the airport at a meeting on January 24.
In the City’s press release, Mayor Gleam Davis said, “This is the beginning of a community process to reimagine the Airport site, which accounts for an unprecedented 4.3% of the City’s land. We know this is an asset Santa Monicans care about and we want to work together to set goals and priorities to meet diverse community needs for the next several generations.”
The city of Santa Monica has had continual legal disagreements with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) over control of airport operations and the use of the 227 acres of land that the airport currently stands on. The city has used the passage of local regulations since the 1970s to respond to the needs of local residents with the quality of life issues that the airport’s operations have raised. The desire of many residents and the city to close the airport has been part of the community discussion for roughly fifty years.
Several campaigns have been launched to rally support and affect the airport’s closure. The Santa Monica Mirror reported on two of those groups, Citizens Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic (CASMAT) and Sunset Park Anti-Airport, Inc., (SPAA), and their efforts in 2013. Their stated reasons for closing the airport were that the airport was, “too close to residential neighborhoods; recent airplane crashes; new homeowners in the area immediately surrounding SMO who do not care for the airport; the potential closure of 2,000 feet of the runway; and, a poll where 80 percent of respondents favored airport closure.”
The “consent decree” that was agreed upon in 2017 between the city and the FAA will return the land and its usage to the city of Santa Monica on December 31, 2028, and allow the city to close the airport. In a document from the office of the Santa Monica City Clerk, the agreement was explained and said, “After years of trying to assert local control over Airport activities and use of the Airport property, the City entered into a Settlement Agreement and “Consent Decree” with the United States of America and the Federal Aviation Administration that resolved all outstanding disputes between the parties and relinquished all claims by the U.S. and the FAA as to Airport land.”
The city will now be able to plan for the airport’s closure and intends to “invite community participation in designing what may be the greatest transformative event of this century for the City of Santa Monica, and perhaps the region.”
Measure LC which was passed in 2014, does give the City Council oversight over the use of the 227 acres of land that will be freed up by the airport’s closure. The City Council will be able to approve the development of parks, public open spaces, and public recreational facilities, and the maintenance and replacement of existing cultural, arts, and educational use on the land. New real estate development is prohibited on the land approved by the voters, with limits on potential developments.
In the meeting, the City Council “confirmed the values establish a standard for the Airport conversion process, foundational goals of sustainability and resiliency for the future of the Airport, and goals for an inclusive community space centered around the concept of a Great Park and supporting land uses.”
The process that the City Council has confirmed will start with a Request For Qualifications (RFQ) in early 2023 that will search for qualified firms or multi-disciplinary teams to help the City develop a public-facing process that will be able to get the community to participate in the planning and add their input. It “will allow staff to evaluate the merits of each firm or team against an established criterion, before requesting detailed proposals. A shortlist of qualified firms or teams will be established through this evaluation and shortlisted candidates will later be invited to submit detailed process and cost proposals for the project.”
The next step is a Request for Proposal (RFP) after the RFQ evaluation. The RFP will include “input from the community so that residents and other stakeholders have the opportunity to articulate their interests in how the planning process is shaped from inception.” City staff will meet with Santa Monica boards and commissions, neighborhood groups, the Chamber of Commerce, Santa Monica Travel and Tourism, and business-related interests such as merchants’ associations and local business improvement districts. This is intended to provide a “detailed expression of community interest, concerns, and other factors that are important to Santa Monicans.” for the RFP which will then be released to the public in late spring of 2023.
The city’s press release identifies a timeline for the process of the closure of the Santa Monica Airport:
- Consultant Selection: Summer 2023
- Project Initiation: Winter 2023
- Existing Conditions: Spring 2024
- Scenario Planning (Preferred Scenario Approved): Spring/Summer 2026
- Specific Plan Initiation: Fall/Winter 2026
- Consent Decree Airport Closure Authorization: Winter 2028
- Specific Plan Adoption: Fall 2028-2033 or beyond
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Press Release – New Data, A New Time – Whiteman Airport Shouldn’t be Under Siege!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 18, 2022
Contact: Ron Berinstein CFII
New Data, A New Time – Whiteman Airport Shouldn’t be Under Siege!
LOS ANGELES, CA – Whiteman Noise Study Revealed – A New Perspective – An Open Letter to Elected Officials
“Whether we are a father or a friend or a community leader, we need to make sure that we are impeccable with our words and that we constantly be mindful of what we say and always try to be loving and caring with everything that we say,” Congressman Tony Cardenas
“City Hall hits a New Low. Is this a Turning Point?” LA Times.
SCAUWG.ORG, the aviation safety website operated on behalf of the Southern California Airspace Users Working Group, is issuing this open letter to Los Angeles Council Members and to Congressman Cardenas and asks that they should no longer be moved in the direction City Council previously determined regarding Whiteman Airport.
Whiteman Air Park was established in 1946, and purchased by LA County in 1970. City zoning has allowed building residences and businesses right up to the airport boundaries. Ironically, the LA County owned airport is blamed by city closure supporters for it’s proximity to residents. Now is the time for unity, not division in Los Angeles, now is the time for real community service, for community resident support, and not community misrepresentation, or political jockeying. Now is the time to take advantage of the local airport already in place, to reap it’s obvious benefits, and to plan future enhancements that will multiply it’s value for the neighborhood.
The recent Whiteman noise study results appeared to disappoint two vocal community organizers that promote airport closure. One, who has been aided by a City Councilwoman with a real estate background, already has plans rendered for airport closure and land development. SCAUWG.ORG wonders if implementing those plans might promote future area gentrification, and as a result, force current residents from their homes.
The second closure advocate initially called for the expensive noise study to be done again after hearing that there is no real noise to hear! The result as reported: Out of over 17000 Pacoima residential units, only 335 (less than 2%) are qualified for noise relief services under the part 150 process.
Additionally, the railroad noise from the tracks that closely parallel Whiteman’s runway, and train whistles (both appear much louder than the aircraft) were not requested to be evaluated, and neither was a study evaluating noise resulting from busy San Fernando Road which parallels the runway. Nor were any noise restrictions upon rail and road traffic requested at the recent Community Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting when the noise study results were announced, but a nighttime curfew was proposed by closure advocates for the airport, who were dismayed when the consulting firm expert revealed data that indicated only a voluntary curfew might be feasible.
Now those who may be biased against the airport whilst purporting to represent the local residents have a possibly uncomfortable choice to make. They can either support pursuing the Part 150 soundproofing for those units located very close to the airport that experience a sound level a little over the acceptable 65 Db, or they can choose to not pursue the relief, pursue closing the airport, and leave the current residents subjected to the noise that the anti-airport advocates have complained about for years, as Whiteman cannot be closed any time soon due to the County’s previous acceptance of Federal Airport Improvement Grants.
Closure advocates may be disappointed on the pollution front as well! Not only are aircraft LESSOR POLLUTERS than San Fernando Rd Diesel trucks right now (EPA 2007- citing more lead is located near freeways than at KWHP), a fact not accented by those who refer to that report, but GAMI 100 Octane UNLEADED fuel (Just FAA approved) is being looked into for KWHP. That fuel would replace the 100 Low Lead fuel currently in place, hence, it is possible that within a reasonable time period there may be no lead argument at all that those who claim pollution can advocate.
Finally, airport operators do not cause accidents. Think of a car low on gas with the driver knowing that there is a gas station a few blocks ahead. The driver continues toward the gas station, but the car runs out of fuel and slows. The car then gets hit by a vehicle following behind it. Does anyone conclude that the gas station should be closed? However, that is essentially the argument critics point to who accuse Whiteman Airport as a threat instead of a refuge, because a pilot experiencing mechanical difficulties in 2020, tried to reach Whiteman Airport, but failed to do so.
To our elected officials: SCAUWG.ORG is hopeful that you will be able to review your positions regarding Whiteman. Include Pacoima and Whiteman Airport in the healing process, and work together, not for personal interest, but for community interest.
The “privileged few” (those closure advocates criticize for having an aircraft at KWHP) are really those that live within easy airport access and take advantage of the community perks the airport offers. EAA Chapter 40 even invites area youth to help build an airplane that they will fly when completed! They offer free flying for youth monthly as well! The EAA Young Eagles program has flown over 9000 free flights at Whiteman.
These examples do not even begin to touch upon the KWHP Air Explorers program, Glendale Community College’s aviation program, the local jobs, aviation training and the GA flight community, the search and rescue facilities, the firefighting headquarters, the police activity facilitated, the public press helicopter support, the financial benefit for area businesses, plus the monthly free aviation safety programs sponsored by the FAA Safety FAASTeam, and more.
To find out more about aviation safety and airspace education, you are invited to join us at www.scauwg.org
To listen to the recent noise study report, you can access it at https://www.reenvisionwhitemanairport.com/resources
News Release- Should Whiteman’s Community Advisory Committee be Re-envisioned?
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AIRSPACE USERS WORKING GROUP
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 22, 2022 Contact: Ron Berinstein CFII
Should Whiteman’s Community Advisory Committee be re-envisioned?
LOS ANGELES, CA LA County PUBLIC Works staff confirmed that seated panelists tasked with providing serious advice to the County’s “Community Advisory Committee” (CAC) that is evaluating “the Whiteman Airport re-envisioning – a community-driven process” campaign, have not been asked to provide fiscal holding disclosures regarding if they, their families, or related businesses would benefit from the airport closing.
The Southern California Airspace Users Working Group (SCAUWG) has been addressing LA Airspace design, Airport Operations, and Pilot education including noise abatement procedures working together with the FAA for community benefit since 1986 when summoned to do so after the Cerritos air disaster.
Learn More about the working group at: www.scauwg.org
LA County’s resolution regarding the CAC includes the following:
“…would undertake a community-driven master plan for Whiteman Airport that will maintain the property’s primary function as an airport…”
However, certain seated members of the panel have openly pursued efforts to close the airport, inferring that the airport is a blight on the Pacoima neighborhood, and another actively seeks donations for their group and features a campaign to “shutdown Whiteman Airport.”
Currently, Whiteman serves as a home for the Civil Air Patrol, Glendale Community College Aviation Program, an LA County Firefighting Helicopter base, the EAA Young Eagles Program that provides free aircraft rides and free aviation education for community youth, the home base for over 600 aircraft, media helicopters, maintenance facilities, flight school learning opportunities, and it is a location for free FAA Safety Team education programs open to the public, among other positive programs and it provides community economic benefits. A recent Airport Open-House (June 25) that celebrated the airport’s 75th anniversary was described as very successful.
At the upcoming CAC virtual meeting Thursday, August 25th SCAUWG.ORG, associated with the working group will formally request that like elected and appointed officials that have legislative ability must disclose fiscal holdings, and like lobbyists who are regulated, the CAC panelists participating in this serious year-long effort charged with officially advising LA County officials to be asked to voluntarily disclose any related financial interests that would benefit should the airport be closed, and that in good faith, and as a matter of HONESTY and FULL DISCLOSURE, discussion on this matter be agenized.
This is so that opinion veracity can be better weighed by the County. Meeting information and Log on details available at: https://www.reenvisionwhitemanairport.com/
Of the nineteen CAC members, only a few are described as having an airport/aviation connection on the LA County re-envisioning Whiteman Airport website.
The name “re-envisoning – a community-driven process” alone suggests that change is implied.
SCAUWG.ORG is suggesting that “re-envisioning” the CAC panel via employing the request for relevant fiscal bias is prudent.
It is ironic that the local residents accused by some of being victimized by the airport and in need of protection from implied danger, should the airport close and area gentrification follow, could be victimized by higher cost of living expenses. Those residents might then be forced out of their neighborhood, and need to seek more affordable circumstances elsewhere.
Learn More by viewing this Background History.PDF file
Redlands Aerobatic Cup is On! Sept 2-4, 2022
This is event is not a public spectator event. This is for pilots, volunteers and support staff. The second annual Redlands Aerobatic Cup will be held at Redlands Municipal Airport over Labor Day weekend. For more information about the event check out the detailed write-up by clicking on the Events/Meetings tab of our website.
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Redlands Airport is a Civic Treasure
Reprinted from the Editorial Page of the Redlands Community News, 5-19-22
The Redlands Municipal Airport is a civic treasure with a rich an interesting history. As Shari Forbes reports in this week’s Focus package, airplanes were soaring over Southern California less than a decade after Orville and Wilbur Wright first flew at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903.
The University of Redlands held the first known “air meet” in 1911. That same year, Beryl Williams — who later moved to Redlands —became the youngest aviator in the country.
Forbes reports that celebrities flying to the West Coast often chose to fly into Redlands airport for its privacy and because it was often the only air strip in the region that was not fogged in.
The Federal Aviation Administration now lists Redlands Municipal as one of more than 120 “reliever airports” designated to reduce congestion at large commercial services airports and provide more general aviation access. Reliever represents the R in REI, the FAA’s official designation for Redlands Municipal.
In our case, the larger airport would be San Bernardino International Airport, just a few miles west of Redlands. About a year ago, the FAA issued a warning urging Inland Empire pilots to be vigilant about other aircraft in the vicinity.
Both airports have held air shows in the past until COVID stopped events that draw large crowds. Hangar 24 Craft Brewery, a successful brewery and bar near the Redlands airport, has held a dozen air shows that have become significant community events. SBA held six
shows that display larger airplanes. Last year, Hangar 24 lost some of the property where the air show was held because of the kangaroo rat, so it has agreed to merge with the show in San Bernardino. It was scheduled for May last year but didn’t happen. We have yet to see signs another show this year.
Ted Gablin, president of the Redlands Airport Association, foresees the airport being home to future technology such as Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) vehicles. Entrepreneurs are building these experimental new “air taxis” that were featured on
“60 Minutes” with Anderson Cooper. “Redlands Municipal Airport would be a prime location for a future eVTOL company,” said Gablin. We’d love to see Redlands become a leader in clean transportation of all kinds, such as the San Bernardino Valley College program to develop electronic freight trucks.
Redlands most famous author, James Falllows, who writes for the Atlantic Magazine, advocates for small, private planes as a way to travel safely and reduce traffic congestion. We can’t predict how widespread that might become, but a healthy municipal airport may
make it possible.
James Folmer, Editor