Santa Monica City Council Continues it's Underhanded Airport Tactics

Editor’s Note: The Santa Monica City Council has refused to issue permits to two flight schools at Santa Monica Airport. One can’t help but be suspicious of what the Santa Monica City Council is trying to accomplish. Obviously, they want to insure that the airport does not remain successful – why would that be? It’s becoming more obvious they have a hidden agenda here.
Read the Editorial from the Santa Monica Daily Press.

Let the market be your guide


I was disappointed to read the article “Two flight schools at SMO denied by City Hall,” page 1, Dec. 24. Why was the answer “no” when Santa Monica’s own airport director approved and passed on the application?

A lawyer would start saying things like “restraint of trade.” From the case of Mitchell vs. Reynolds: “It is the privilege of a trader in a free country, in all matters not contrary to law, to regulate his own mode of carrying it on according to his own discretion and choice. If the law has regulated or restrained his mode of doing this, the law must be obeyed. But no power short of the general law ought to restrain his free discretion.”

In the free-market system it is the market which decides whether or not there are too many providers of a product or service. It should not be the job of City Hall. To City Hall: Approve the applications and let us see how they do in the market!

In the meantime, there will be more jobs added to Santa Monica as well as providing a wider range of service providers. Local businesses would profit from the new flight schools. Certainly the new flight schools will need staff; will probably be buying computers and software locally; maybe they’ll need office supplies, desks, chairs; they’ll buy fuel, maintenance services and avionics support locally, that is, from other Santa Monica Airport suppliers. It doesn’t say in the article but perhaps they would buy their planes locally, too, rather than bring planes down from Washington (one of the applicants is from Washington state). The newly hired flight instructors as well as their students will no doubt be patronizing the local restaurants on the airport and the new employees would probably rent local apartments or buy houses locally.

The market is certainly trying to work. One of the applicants, Angel City Flyers, is reported to have said in your newspaper that they are “focused … on minimizing the impact on the surrounding community” and that they would use “newer planes … giving [the] company a lesser environmental impact.” The flight school representative was trying to differentiate his company in the marketplace and deal with local objections to flight operations.

The point that flight schools do “repetitive, low altitude operations” is suspect. I can tell you from experience that students spend most of their time far from the local airport at practice areas. Certainly when they return they might do a touch-and-go or two but to characterize training flights as spending most of their time locally is false.

The bigger point is that Santa Monica has an airport and it should be able to freely operate in the market as an airport. Do City Hall and the Planning Commission regulate the number of nail salons, bakeries, and baby clothes stores? Not as far as I can see; so what’s an “an adequate number of flight schools?” Let the market decide how many schools are adequate. If the new schools draw many new students then it’s good for business and jobs in Santa Monica. I would hate to think that City Hall and the Planning Commission are pandering to the small but vocal minority of people who don’t want an airport in the community under any circumstances.

A cynic might wonder what would have been the response of City Hall and the Planning Commission if it were not two flight schools that were applying to set up businesses but rather two developers. City Hall and the Planning Commission would be tripping over each other’s feet to get first in line to approve the applications.
Reynold Dacon
Santa Monica
December 27, 2010

Read all the stories on Santa Monica on the web site and come to your own conclusion.

To view the letter on the smdp web site click here.