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Santa Monica Anti-Airport Groups Question City’s Anti-Pollution Proposal

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Lookout Staff

October 27, 2015 -- An anti-pollution proposal the City Council will take up on Tuesday is being dismissed as “hogwash”  by the resident group allied with City Hall in the battle with federal officials to close Santa Monica Airport.

Sending out email alerts to its members, Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution (CRAAP) says the proposal by City Attorney Marsha Moutrie to reduce aircraft emissions at would do little to curb pollution.

The way to stop pollution is to prevent aircraft from using the airport at all,  said Martin Rubin, the organization’s director.

Rubin said he regards the City’s pollution plan as a sign that City officials have given up the battle to close Santa Monica Airport as soon as possible, shifting their attention to lesser measures.

“We’ve been doing  this 15 years,” Rubin said of the efforts by his members to shut the airport, which they and others complain generates noise, hazardous pollution and is far too close to homes to be safe.

“None of the recommendations contained within (the proposed ordinance) will reduce the jet traffic at the airport for a long time, if ever. Did we say, ‘Hogwash?’ We are too polite!”

In a letter to the Council Monday, Rubin said he is “disappointmented with the failure of the City” to actively address the public health concerns due to the aircraft emissions.

The City, Rubin wrote, “has failed to even attempt arguing this issue with the FAA outside or inside of court. How many deaths have resulted from these toxic emissions? Has the City of Santa Monica investigated? The City thoroughly investigated the economic aspects regarding SMO; why not the negative health aspects?

“The City has made it crystal clear to me that it is far more concerned about the liabilities that could arise from this issue than it is about protecting the multitudes whose public health continues to be compromised.,” Rubin wrote.

The proposed restrictions on aircraft pollution the Council will consider Tuesday are part of the City’s attempt to strike a more assertive posture with its main combatant -- the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), officials said.

In her report to the Council, Moutrie acknowledges that the City faces a road full of obstacles as is struggles to shut down aircraft operations at the century-old airport. But one action it can take fairly quickly is curbing pollution from the airport, she said.

One recommendation is a total cap on emissions. In addition, flight school leases would prohibit use of lead fuel for training, and leases to those who sell aircraft fuel at the airport would be required to start remediating any contamination.

Also recommended is possibly ending third-party fuel sales at the airport and giving the job to the City as a way to assure the most “environmentally sound” fuel available is used. (“Council to Consider New Pollution Restrictions for Santa Monica Airport,” October 22, 2015.

The decades-old fight over the future of the airport has resulted in years of litigation pitting the City and aviators and the federal government, which has authority over the operation of the nation’s airports.

Santa Monica’s most current war is with the FAA, which has delayed making a key administrative decision three times on the City’s contention that its airport lease with the FAA has expired, putting more control of the airport land in Santa Monica’s hands.

Aviators contend an FAA grant accepted by the City extends the current lease that was set to expire last year until 2023.

Mayor Kevin McKeown has been outspoken in his anger about the FAA delays, but Rubin said he is unimpressed by the mayor's ire over the postponements and  his enthusiasm for the anti-pollution proposal.

“He points the finger at the FAA, but I could point the finger at McKeown for two decades of delaying,” he said. “The jets have to go. There is no question about it. They are constant torture, constant noise.”

McKeown could not be reached for comment.

Last February, a federal judge tossed Santa Monica's lawsuit to take control of its airport from the federal government. City officials and community activists have vowed to keep fighting.

Their efforts were bolstered last November when voters approved a ballot measure that would give the City greater control over the fate of the airport.

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