Accountability- or a Lack Thereof

President’s Corner
Taken from the 2006 July August CALPILOTS Newsletter

When do you think it happened? In May I was reading the various articles on SB 2501, and I thought, ?When did we give up our rights?? When did we collectively decide that ?you can?t beat city hall?? It must have happened, because we clearly have been sitting by for years and watching our politicians, and various local elected officials, make bad, and sometimes scandalous decisions regarding our airports. Case in point-SB2501. Let me bring you up to date, and let?s be honest here, as written SB2501 is a thinly veiled attempt to close Santa Monica Airport. It asks that the taxi times of ALL aircraft at Santa Monica Airport be monitored and recorded, as in timed from taxi to take-off, and from landing to shut down. In its early form, this ill advised bill covered all airports in the areas LA south and out to Palm Springs. Somehow, tower personnel are supposed to figure out how to perform this useless task, while also performing their real jobs, providing safe control to the mix of business jets and smaller GA aircraft. Why? It is another strategy using environmental issues, real or imagined, to create issues for an airport. When all else fails, pull out the environmental card.

Why you may ask, is this happening? Is there a problem? Yes there is. Over the years Santa Monica planners and elected officials have allowed developers of housing projects to build well beyond airport encroachment. Houses are now so close to the airport that neighbors are complaining they are worried about health risks due to jet fumes (multiple studies have already proven this to be false). Predictably, as a result, in rides the ?white hat politician? to the rescue. After all, this could mean lots of votes for him, and when it comes down to the bottom line, that is what many politicians worry about.

Is there a real problem? Airport neighbors say they can smell jet fuel fumes. When on shore winds are active, I would not be surprised if they could; but then again, I would not have bought a home so close to any airport, nor would I buy close to a freeway, a train or bus station, or truck depot. These are all noisy and sometimes smelly places.

Seems like these days, unless there is some gross mistake made by these elected officials, we tend to shrug and grumble about our losses. It is time for a change. It is time to point out, in mass, every time a bad decision is considered, and point out those done in the past when these types of issues surface. Unfortunately, we have lots of examples of bad decisions made regarding our airports, and Santa Monica is only one of them.

The truth is, LA County has ignored Caltrans Division of Aeronautics Comprehensive Land Use Plan guidebook for years. This guide provides accurate and detailed methods to insure the airport and neighbors can exist in harmony, if it is used. The city of Santa Monica is now paying the price for ignoring it, in the form of unhappy airport neighbors. This scenario is playing out over and over across the state. Enough is enough. Make your voices heard when a bad decision is proposed by your elected officials, or shrug and grumble when your airport is closed.

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