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Airport Advocates Submit More than 15,000 Signatures

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By Daniel Larios
Staff Writer

June 11, 2014 -- Supporters of a measure that would make it more difficult to shut down the Santa Monica Airport submitted approximately 15,704 signatures to the Santa Monica City Clerk's Office Tuesday afternoon.

The proposed measure would amend the City charter to require voter approval for changes made to the Santa Monica Airport land.
To make the ballot, approximately 9,100 signatures from registered Santa Monica voters will have to be verified by the Los Angeles County Registrar’s office within 30 days of receiving them.

A small group from the pro-airport committee "Santa Monicans for Open and Honest Development Decisions" (SMOHDC) gathered outside City Hall around 4 p.m. with a couple of boxes filled with signed copies of the petition.

"In spite of efforts to stop the voters from speaking on this issue,” said John Jerabek, a board member of SMOHDC, “voters will now have a chance to decide if 227 acres of the most valuable land in California will remain in low-density airport use or whether politicians and special interests will force their plans on the people of Santa Monica.

"Politicians, developers, and special interests have a long history of seeking this low density airport land for their high-density development schemes," he added. "As far back as the 1960's they've studied or proposed everything from shopping centers to office buildings and parking structures, to a huge gated mixed-use community."
Airport2Park, the organization residents formed last year to turn the airport into a park, quickly responded to news that the petitions had been submitted.

“The AOPA [Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association] has spent freely to try to buy a spot for its measure on the November ballot,” Airport2Park officials wrote in a statement. “It’s prepared to spend much more in its effort to block the city’s desire to increase airport rents to market level and to mitigate SMO’s current negative health and safety impacts, and prevent Santa Monica from ultimately closing the airport and building a great park.

“The incredible effort by local volunteers to counter the AOPA-funded signature gatherers was a wonderful example of democracy in action, and those efforts will continue if this deceptive measure does qualify for the November ballot. In that case, A2P is confident that the voters of Santa Monica will see through and defeat this special-interest power grab.”

At 4:15 p.m., City Clerk Sarah Gorman personally received the petition from airport proponents, making a quick check on them in a conference room before taking them back to her office.

Santa Monica resident Flora Yin was among those who submitted the petition to the City Clerk.  Lin was one of the three residents who initially filed for the initiative.  The other two are businesswoman Lauren McCollum and Nikos Kokotakis.

"Voters like me are tired of the insider political game that has gone on too long,” Yin said in a statement.. “It's a very simple Charter Amendment and people agreed with us and quickly added their names to our campaign.

“The only people against voters having a voice before the airport can be used for other purposes are a few politicians and pressure groups," Yin said.

Among those who gathered at City Hall was Christian Fry, vice president of the Santa Monica Airport Association.

"We have more than 15,000 signatures. That really says that people are really interested in this topic," Fry told the Lookout. "We all have a right to have our voices heard."

The City Council has the discretion to place the measure, if it qualifies, on the November ballot or call for a special election, Gorman said. The Council, which opposes the measure, has directed staff to draft a rival measure.

“I think it's a waste of time and energy," said Fry. "We're giving the people of Santa Monica a chance to weigh in on this."

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