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Santa Monica Keeps Trying To Shut Down Its Airport

Santa Monica Airport (Photo by Nic Adler via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Santa Monica is very interested in shutting down their 227-acre airport and turning it into a park. However, the FAA has maintained that this is impossible until at least 2023. The Santa Monica City Council voted Tuesday to close their local airport by July 1, 2018, according to a release from the city. The Council says that the airport causes too much noise and air pollution, and could be better used as a park or some other community asset.

Santa Monica Mayor Tom Vazquez said via a statement:

Through our unanimous vote tonight, the Council demonstrated our commitment to stop the harmful impacts the Airport has on our community. Transitioning our land into a 'great-park' is the single most transformative action this Council can take. The land needs to be transformed from a source of pollution and potential danger, into a community asset.

Mayor Pro Tem Ted Winterer said that the airport "predominantly caters to the 1 percent that can afford to travel by private jet." The L.A. Times reported that in 2015, over 300 takeoffs and landings occurred on a regular basis. Many of these aircrafts belong to private citizens, such as Harrison Ford. Santa Monica is where Ford took off from before he crashed his plane in 2015, breaking his pelvis.

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This is the third time that Santa Monica has tried to shut the airport down. In 2014, the city passed Measure LC, which both allows the City Council to make decisions about the airport, and demands that if the airport is shut down, it can only be repurposed as some kind of park, open space or recreational space. They've largely been unsuccessful at closing the facility because of the FAA. The FAA ruled last year that the airport would have to stay open until at least 2023 because Santa Monica received a federal grant of $240,600 in 2003 that called for the airport to remain in operation for 20 years. The city, however, has argued that this requirement actually expired in 2014, which was 20 years after they initially accepted a larger $1.6 million grant. The extra $240,600, they argued, was part of that grant and accepting it did not mean they were signing up for new requirements.

The Santa Monica City Council hoping they can at least convince the FAA to get rid of the far west part of the runway, cutting it down by 2,000 feet.

The Santa Monica Airport is located about 6 miles north of LAX. It was first called Clover Field for WWI aviator Lt. Greayer "Grubby" Clover, and was used by the Army in WWII. According to the Santa Monica Airport's website, this single-runway airport has over 130,000 residents within 2 miles of the Airport. Their "Fly Neighborly" program imposes noise restrictions on the pilots who use the airport.