Fire at SMO and what just what is a contract anyway?

May 16, 2012 by Bruce Landsberg

If you’ve been following the continuing saga of the Santa Monica airport (SMO), it’s easy to see how things have become so contentious, and yet this is precisely why we have laws. It keeps things relatively civilized—mostly. In summary: SMO Airport began as a grass strip in the 1920s, and shortly afterward Douglas aircraft moved in and began building the first and subsequent generation of airliners (DC3-DC7).

During WWII, Douglas was running 24 hours a day, and L.A. and Santa Monica rezoned the area to allow housing right up to the perimeter of the airport so the workers could be right there! The government took over the airport during the war and in 1948 offered the airport back to the city with the stipulation that it must remain an airport in perpetuity. The city agreed and signed the contract.

Douglas started building jets in the 1950s, and these aircraft were, according to some, 10 times louder than they are today, but the production moved to Long Beach. GA jets arrived in the ‘60s, and they were loud, too. A high-roller operation to move people out to Las Vegas in the early evening and have them back before dawn, presumably broke but happy, did not please the neighbors. The first class-action lawsuit cropped up in 1967 and the airport won. In ’69, a second lawsuit prevailed to establish a curfew from 2300 to 0700. Other restrictions regarding pattern work and flight paths were also introduced.

In the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, GA operations were at an all-time high, running nearly 360,000 per year. It has since dropped to levels not seen since the 1950s due to decline in GA activity, and many aircraft are much quieter.

But history has a way of being repetitious—some of the neighbors would like to shut down the airport and develop it into something else, but there’s this nasty business of contract law (some would say “dealing with the devil”).

Here’s an excerpt from a letter to the editor of a Santa Monica blog:

“According to the article, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association claims a survey it conducted shows that two-thirds of Santa Monica residents believe the airport should remain open. I would be interested to know where the pilots association got their “facts” and where these pilots actually “live?

The airport serves the few not the many, and we living near it can no longer tolerate the constant barrage of noise, pollution and toxic cancerous particles raining down on our homes and gardens. If the city will not fight the FAA to take back the land when the lease expires in 2015 it is time to vote all of them out of office.”

The lease that is referred to does not override, according to those who know such things, the contract of 1948.

AOPA and other groups have put considerable effort into attempting to bring some reason and legality to an emotional argument. The contract between the city and the FAA is binding, as several audits have shown. Would some of the homeowners be defensive of their own property deeds, some going back to 1948? If one decided that they just didn’t care for what the homeowner was doing—even though they were doing less of it and had been doing it since long before the newer neighbors moved in—made no secret of that fact, and in fact had a contract that allowed them to do it, how would that play? (You might accuse me of being a bit rhetorical—not to mention long-winded!)

Here’s where the educational outreach by AOPA and the Foundation come into play. Instead of attempting to move the goal posts after the rules of the game are established, it’s much better to help people understand how the game is played before they put a team on the field. In SMO’s case, it’s tough to put the toothpaste back in the tube, but how much better would it have been to have been: 1) Educating the community about the benefits of the airport before things became completely polarized; 2) Requiring that an avigational easement be a part of every property sale within the noise impact area of SMO so no one could claim they didn’t know; 3) Offering rides, airport tours, and school and civic club presentations to affect number 1; 4) Looking for ways to be a good neighbor consistent with safety.

How does your community feel about the airport? It’s far better to be a fire marshal and prevent the fire from starting than to call out the fire department after it gets going—there will inevitably be damage.


Bruce Landsberg
Senior Safety Advisor, Air Safety Institute

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  • Fred von Zabern

    Airport neighbors should be careful what they wish for. You look at other airports that have closed for the same reasons SMO neighbors claim, and ask them now if they are happy with the results. I believe neighbors at TOA (under similar contract; if that airport closes, the land reverts to the FAA, who can do as it pleases) are much more educated, hence that airport thrives. Years ago, privately-owned Meadowlark airport (L16) in Huntington Beach, CA closed, after a protracted pro-and-con decision-making process. Now, condos and a shopping center contribute to that neighborhood’s traffic congestion, arguably resulting in decreased standard of living. With land in SMO as valuable and political cronyism as it is, I can see that land being developed into a high-tax potential project (read: high density housing and/or high-rise office space). Some say airports are going the way of horse property. If that is true, so are the reasons we came to California years ago. Idaho is looking better every day.

  • R. Judy

    I agree with all the points that Bruce has made. When I was purchasing my current residence, a home I looked at (but ended up not buying) was directly below the ILS at my home airport. The realtor told me this was a “drawback”…I told her it was a “feature”…she laughed.

    Anyway, it should be a requirement that these people be informed when buying their houses that this is an AIRPORT and it makes NOISE. If you don’t like it, go somewhere else.

    To the others that didn’t want to believe that an airport makes noise…I would be that SMO is one of the busiest GA airports in the area…so I say to them…either put up with the noise or move!

  • Martin Rubin

    This is a Public Health issue here at SMO. If it can’t be fixed it has to go.

  • Bruce Landsberg

    In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that Mr. Rubin is a member of Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution and may not be a fan of SMO.

  • adele1959

    Oh, please. You airport folks are under some illusions. Give it a break. And go somewhere else. You don’t live in Santa Monica, anyway. You just benefit at the expense of our taxes.

  • Charles

    This is ludicrous!

    It is not about residents versus jets or pilots. It is not about whether someone is a fan of the airport or not. It is not about whether someone knew there was an airport near their home when they purchased it.

    What is it about?

    It is about unsafe pollution issues, it is about an airport that has runways not capable of handling jet air travel, and it is about an airport immediately surrounded by residential homes and schools. The vast majority of the residents want the airport closed. But is this just a selfish desire?

    What does an independent study say?

    Hu S, Fruin S, Kozawa K, Mara S, Winer AM, Paulson SE. Aircraft emission impacts in a neighborhood adjacent to a general aviation airport in southern California. Environ Sci Technol. 2009 Nov 1;43(21):8039-45. []

    “The observation of highly elevated ultrafine particle concentrations in a large residential area downwind of this local airport has potential health implications for persons living near general aviation airports.”

    What has the independent UCLA community health assessment group recommend after studying SMO and the surrounding neighborhoods?

    UCLA CHAT (Community Health and Advocacy Training) Program, Castro A, Chen L, Edison B, et al. Santa Monica Airport – Health Impact Assessment (HIA). Feb 2010.[]

    “Closure of SMO would eliminate all health risks associated with airport air and noise pollution.”

    ” Notify all potential property buyers, residents, and affected community members in the vicinity of SMO of the noise and air pollution health risks.”

    “Maintain a runway buffer zone of at least 660 meters to protect surrounding residents from the harmful health effects of jet fuel exhaust byproducts during idling and take-off.”

    Simply the airport is unsafe, particularly for jet travel due to insufficient runways and the FAA know it and casts a blind eye towards the safety of the residents.

    The airport is spewing pollutants in large quantities into close abutting neighborhood and residential homes and the EPA doesn’t want to even study what is going on.

    The facts are we can live without the airport and due to the lack of health and safety there is really no option but the airport must close.

  • Catherine shaw

    O.K. I bought my home in 1997 and contract included the fact that I was a mile or so from a “local airport” small put put aircrat and a few small jets during daylight hours. Doable yes.
    Within less than a year, I heard jets take off around 2-3am. Later jets were taking off and landing sometimes every 10-15 minutes. Jets idling were spewing toxic fumes into my neighborhood .we are constantly closing doors and windows. Along with toxic pollution there was/is noise pollution where normal life is on hold until that jet finally departed. Now our house is constantly “buzzed” by flight-school students”…noisy and scary. When might they crash into my home or street.
    Recently my daughter and husband who have spent $30,000 on architectural plans to expand and build Upwards to create a wonderful home for their daughter and other future children, have decided that they want to move away. They are afraid to expose their daughter and any future children to toxic benzene fumes. It’s just not worth it to them to live near SMO they are sad that they can’t live in a community they love and have invested in
    If only the City of Santa Monica had the balls to stand up to the FAA et al. And bring back the idea of S.M. As a Green city, my family and thousand of other families could live the way we are supposed to…in peace and quiet, with greenery and fresh air…no noise, no toxins and no fear of airplane crashes

  • SM Resident

    “The government took over the airport during the war and in 1948 offered the airport back to the city with the stipulation that it must remain an airport in perpetuity. The city agreed and signed the contract.”

    That is inaccurate. The federal government LEASED the airport from the City during the war and when the war ended prior to the expiration of that lease, the Feds and the City entered into an agreement to return the property early and the covenant was inserted into that agreement.

    If you want to analyze it on a contract basis, then what would be the remedy if the City were to breach its obligations? Returning the airport to the Feds for the duration of their lease (which expired about 7 or 8 decades ago)?

    You could also say it is a land use covenant that runs in perpetuity requiring an affirmative action by the servient landowner. Those tend to be frowned on as a matter of law and courts tend to be loath to tell someone they have to do something (that pesky 14th Amendment and all).

    The City is and should be free to make decisions about what is in its best interesst. If the City decides that keeping the airport open is the best course of action – great. However, if it decides that there are better uses for this land (that is worth billions of dollars up front plus tens of millions of dollars per year in property taxes if utilized even for single family housing) and the tax payer dollars that are currently used to subsidize its operation each year, that is their decision too.

  • Rich 66

    Cathherine Shaw, If the notification of the presence of a “local Putt putt airport” or something like that is what you got then your beef is with the misrepesentation made by your realtor.
    As you stated, all this airplane activity was going on and the realtor knew it and didn’t tell you.
    You are barking up the wrong tree.

    If only the city of Santa monica had the “balls” to live up to it’s agreement (ie CONTRACT) and tell home owners the facts this would be a non issue.
    I bet there is alot more car traffic now than there was in 1997.

    And all those pesty home owners ,like you, with their cars and barbecue grills and lawn mowers and string trimmers are what is contributing to it.

    Congratulate your daughter and husband. Their departure will be improvement to the neighborhood. One less family of complainers,
    Oh, and make sure they warn the prospective buyer about all the “pollution” coming from all those big old dirty jets before they sign on the dotted line.

  • Ric Lee

    Since the airport was established in 1920, it should not be a surprise to people who purchase a home next to it. I find it simply amazing that these folks complain about airport pollution when they live in the most polluted area of the United States.

    Airplanes are only running briefly and then gone. Autos run day and night throughout the area spewing continuous pollution. If you are really concerned about your health you would not live in the Los Angeles basin, period.

    I have stayed in the L.A. area at times and within 3-4 days my lungs begin to ache from the air pollution. Upon returning home it stops.

    The Santa Monica Airport is an economic wonder that brings millions and millions of dollars into your local economy. It also provides services that many do not think of until needed. Disaster relief, lifeflight, firefighting and police aerial patrols all benefit local residents. Think about that the next time you have a major earthquake or fire.

  • Tom Garfunkle

    It’s the Jets, stupid! Most people are fine with the little prop planes, and even the occasional old war birds. It’s the massive private jets that are the problem. A compromise on both sides could be to ban the private jets. They really should be flying out of Van Nuys anyway. I’m a pilot by the way.

  • Sedona

    The issue is, do we choose life or do we chose death as a community? Is it really ok to take a small airport near homes and develop them into giant monstrosities? I think not. There is no comparison of the a small airport for local pilots and a busy jetport with 100,000 air events or more per year.
    As human beings do we have a right to breathe clean air and have clean water to drink or is that only for a few people?

    Money? Who cares about money, the world goes around no matter what. I don’t rely on anything related to the airport to make money. The airport has a human cost in dollars in property damage, health care costs and death. This is why the next UN Summit in Rio is discussing an International Aviation Treaty; you are about to lose your right to fly cheap. The real cost of aviation is going to borne by pilots and passengers instead of the entire planet. Only 5% of the earth’s population even uses airlines or planes.

    This is not an emotional argument Bruce. I have the VOC blood tests and lead tests to prove this is a health argument. If the airport is so important, then buy every single house around SMO because the area is no longer fit for habitation by anyone. Disclosures mean nothing to a fool who signs them because they are uneducated and do not understand what they are dealing with. There should be no houses around SMO. The EPA admitted 99% of all cancer around Chicago Midway was caused by the airport. Most people do not know the airport gives their kids lead poisoning either.

    Some of the comments I read here are made by uneducated, medically ignorant, self-centered, mean, human beings. You think the airport is not a problem just because it is not your back yard. Killing, raping and robbing should be ok too, as long it is not my friends or family. A lot of people actually feel this way and only the law and threat of prison keeps them from committing crimes.

    The fact is we have a national airport problem. Small airports built too close to homes which were never a problem, are expanded into larger airports and then it destroys the area. This is happening in small communities all over the United States right now. Aviation is insatiable in its demands to expand, there is also competition for finite resources. The more humans we have the more space they need and want. The more cars they drive, the more planes they fly, the more electricity they use, the more food they eat and more pesticides get used.
    Are we over breeding? Humans find the idea of over population appalling to even consider; people want to have lots of babies.

    People seem to think we have unlimited resources but we don’t. The air is getting dirtier, the water is polluted and comes out of the tap in many places unsafe. We have over crowded cities and highways. The police harass the people who drive and the traffic is bad, so people quit driving everywhere and get a plane.

    My neighbor just died from a rare form of liver cancer at age 21. Young people do not get liver cancer in our country, that is a disease of the elderly and Hep C patients. She lived along a wash and at the mouth of Carol Canyon, where the jet fuel, jet exhaust, lead and particulate matter collect. The taxi and take off exhaust also flows down Carol Canyon past her home and to Oak Creek. Two weeks after she died my other neighbor died from a sudden onset of pancreatic cancer. Dozens of us have liver pain, liver spasms, elevated liver enzymes, intermittent high blood pressure, racing pulse, kidney pain and low GFR. We all live near Red Rock Crossing.

    This young woman who died lived here since age 8; at the time we had a few single piston aircraft per day and a small runway. Someone saw an opportunity to cash in on our small town and made the runway bigger and able to support large jets. Now he makes his easy retirement money living off our red rocks and park land. We have are geographically a tiny basin, 19 miles total, with smaller basins, canyons and washes inside it. We have had 80,000 aircraft per year flying over our homes sightseeing. The aircraft have destroyed our quality of life, are making people sick and killing people. Our airport is inside our town. Due to our geology there is no way for the pollution to evacuate, it sinks to the bottom of the valleys. Millions of people come here to see the natural beauty but the aviation user group is ruining it for everyone else. Less than 1% use the airport but they impact the other 99%. What can I do to impact your neighborhood and life negatively and give you cancer and lung disease?

  • Natalie

    It is clear that the pilots know that the end of SMO is at hand. You can tell by their vile comments. As stated by many above, it is not a matter of what came first the chicken or the egg. It is about the safety of families and children from the constant barrage of toxic fumes and ultrafine particles which cause PERMANENT brain damage. And why should this persist? b/c a privileged few want to fly without having to wait in lines and go through security? I agree with everything Charles stated above and appreciate all the scientific support set forth.

    A couple of additional points are worth noting. First, the instrument of transfer only covers a portion of the land that constitutes the runway – about 3000′. The balance is land owned by the City of Santa Monica that is under no contractual obligations after 2015. So one easy solution is for Santa Monica to just take this land back in 2015 and keep the airport open for any planes that can land on a 3000′ runway. And I am sure that now someone is going to say that the FAA will just cease the land with eminent domain. So to squash this right now. the FAA is a branch of the Department of the Transportation with no powers of eminent domain. The FAA only has the powers given to it by the legislative branch. Further much of this landed is deeded park land so it cannot be developed in many of the ways that are set forth by Fred above.

    Further it should be noted that the airport has never been a good neighbor. I recently read an article that suggested that all the flight schools be outfitted with silencers. These cost between $5-$7 and apparently increase fuel efficiency, safety and the resale value of the planes yet despite the fact that these planes circle around endlessly all day long and residents complain about the noise, nothing has been done to alleviate the problem. Further the planes land after curfew and take off at all times of the day and night. We reported a plane for doing a slip manuever over our house and the airport reprimanded them and then the plane came by and buzzed our house. Very neighborly.

    And for the record, Ric, I would like to see any support for your ludicrous claims that SMO brings millions into our economy. It is public record disclosed at numerous Santa Monica City Council meetings and in recent studies that SMO is a money loser that the City subsidizes and pretty much anything else that they put there will make more money. And the further BS that you spill about the police and fire and life light using SMO is just that. I have lived adjacent to this airport for nearly 8 years and NEVER ONCE have I seen any of those organizations flying out of SMO. You don’t even live here and only come to visit for 3-4 days. How can you pretend to have any idea what goes on here? If you stay by the airport, it’s no wonder you can’t breathe. Neither can my two children and the 100s of other kids in the neighborhood which is why it is time for the behemoth that is SMO to go.

  • Art Eisenson

    SMO is not what it was when envisioned as a community airport for small private planes. It’s not what it was in the early 1980’s, a Friday night and Sunday night livable nuisance of small prop plane take offs. SMO has been, for more years than its supporters will admit, a public health hazard, from both chemical and noise pollution. The science on this will not go away. The denial must. Cognitive dissonance can become hypocrisy far too easily. So the cure for those who don’t think SMO is a problem is spend a day close to it. Try to read. Try to compose a letter to a five year old child about how microparticulants won’t harm her developing brain. And, oh yes, put your money where your mouth is. Ante up some money to cover the health costs of those damaged by this jet port. Prepare to be defendants in a class action suit, because health and safety issues always trump even contract law in litigation. Do not believe anyone who lives near SMO and who has lived with the consequences is going to put up with anyone who endangers our healths.

  • PB

    The SMO naysayers are hysterical in their approach – it’s a shame they can’t be objective, but it is what it is.
    The arguments about environmental damage fail (air quality and noise). I quoted (objectively) on their local newspaper the El Toro International Airport EIR that showed that airports put out very little pollution. While a jet aircraft might put out noise and exhaust, if compared to a mixed use development (which has a minimum of ten vehicular trips per day) the actual noise and emissions are minuscule by comparison. I was shouted down by their naysayers so I walked from the argument. Of interest was a professional study that a naysayer referred to which showed air pollution, but I saw that the fact indicated that the air pollution was light until sensors east of a nearby road showed an increase – from vehicles on that road – in other words, the cars created the pollution, not the planes. Laughable, but these people cannot be swayed.
    The other argument is the risk of aircraft crashes, heightened by a student pilot within two years ‘losing it’ and coming down in a street, sliding into a house and scaring the hell out of two housepainters (who ran for their lives). My thought was that cars and trucks crash too – with greater loss of life over time.
    I have no personal interest in SMO, other than my daughter and her family live under downwind, and they find the planes interesting to watch. They feel a greater risk from heavy vehicular traffic and crime creeping in from Venice (south of SMO) rather than risk of a plane crash.
    The opponents will stop at nothing to get their way – and the crazies that run the city support them. Logic is meaningless. Yet they just cannot get through their skulls that a mixed use development will bring all the ills they want to eliminate – traffic, air pollution, crime. Somehow these people seem to imagine a park with flowers and nymphs caroling, rather than high rise buildings, movie theaters, shopping malls and restaurants. It’s a pity that they can’t see the future and understand that what they have now is a low density use which brings jobs and very little neighborhood impact. If they would be objective they’d applaud the airport use – but, alas, they just can’t see it!

  • mark corbin

    Mr. Landsberg. What you fail to mention is that the amount of pollution (lead based particles) along with the increased number of jets flying in and out of SMO, is what residents of Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Mar Vista and surrounding communities want resolved. I have lived near the airport for over 10 years and during that time have seen a marked increase in flights and corresponding pollution. I knew very will that there was an airport next door when I purchased my home. I had no problem with that! But with the increase in flights, the noise and pollution have become unbearable. There are days when I can’t even go out of my front door without being almost asphyxiated with jet fumes. So because of that, that is why residents are wanting to close the airport. I would rather deal with more traffic and congestion, than to keep dealing with planes that use lead fuel and the ever increasing rate of jets flying in and out of SMO. So the luxury that you and your fellow pilots reap by using SMO does not warrant the Santa Monica council to keep the airport. This is not a war, like you imply in your letter, its just active citizens wanting to live a healthy life, free of noise and pollution!!

  • Mike

    Like Mark, when I bought my home I had no issue with the airport. The small planes weren’t a bother to me. Then came the jets. I put $80k into my house to completely soundproof it and improve the air, but there’s nothing I can do about the outside jet fumes. They blanket our neighborhood all day long. The kids on our street have a 4-7pm jet fume curfew when they’re not allowed to play outside. And on Sundays forget it, it’s impossible to go outside for any more than twenty seconds before you come running back inside to escape the exhaust. It’s like living your life standing behind a diesel truck.

    To all of you pilots from other areas, you should know this….EVERY SINGLE LOCAL PILOT I’VE SPOKEN TO IS IN FAVOR OF ELIMINATING JETS FROM SMO. Why? Because they know the current situation is unsustainable, and the end result will be no airport at all. But if jets are eliminated, and some sort of leaded avgas phase out is established, then we can go back to peaceful harmony as airport and neighbors.

  • Donna Richards

    Laws are also meant to be changed when they do not serve the needs of the community or when the laws are no longer relevant or when the laws are actually causing more harm than good.

    Santa Monica Resident that is tired of sniffing your fumes.

    Donna Richards

  • Dan Walker

    Having lived under this noisy, polluting, dangerous menace for 30-plus years, my daily mantra is: “SMO, It’s gotta go!”.

  • SandraB

    As a result of an agreement between the City of Santa Monica and the FAA, the maximum noise level set for SMO is 95.0 dBA Single Event Noise Exposure Level (SENEL). According to the Santa Monica Airport Noise Report for April 2012, during the month there were 18 noise violations (14 jet, and 4 propeller), an increase of 80% from the noise violations recorded during April 2011. Why is the number of violations increasing, rather than decreasing? Why do pilots and aircraft owners disregard the noise ordinance? Probably because of those 18 noise violations, 16 of them only got a ‘warning’, even though 2 of them recorded over 100 dBA.

  • Josh

    I invite any and all to my home on a Thursday or Sunday afternoon to hang out in the front yard. Our house sits less than 300 yards from the east end of the runway.

    If the proponents of keeping jet traffic flying in and out of SMO have the same opinion after actually spending some time in our neighborhood, then I will be much more receptive to their opinions. Until then, please, keep the uninformed opinons about auto exhaust and related polutants to yourself – they are clearly ignorant of the facts on the ground. Exhaust from jet pollution is unique in it’s ability to change the quality of the air to unbreathable. The moment the jet is no longer idling, shockingly, the quality of the air improves.

    If you choose to take me up on my offer, I can be reached at [email protected].

  • Jamie

    SMO is no longer the cute local airport it once was and has out grown the community. The influx of corporate jets and flight schools has made it a nuisance to the surrounding neighbors. The constant noise and leaded fuel is not welcome any more. The many studies show that leaded fuel is not healthy for people (pets, children, and gardens). When people bought their homes years ago the airport was not like it is today. Many pilots do not ” fly friendly” but actually are making it their mission to zoom over people’s homes and circle the skies.
    I think it is time to close it and let the pilots go to Torrance or Van Nuys.

  • Pat Berry

    As a pilot I agree the airport should close. It is hard to land there and many times I have had close calls. I find my fellow pilots feel the same way and are willing to move to another airport and stop pissing off the locals.

  • Thorens

    The most serious problem is the huge output of poisonous exhaust from idling, big jets. I live over a mile away and must go inside when they spew their filthy, toxic fumes. It’s unbearable.

  • Nan Waldman

    My niece and I were teaching twin cousins to ride their new two wheeler bicycles in Cloverfield Park, immediately adjacent to the airport. There was no signage or notice. There was no indication while in the park, which is open to the public, that fumes would engulf us, that we would be literally flooded in eyes, ears, mouth, nose, skin — with a wet fog of exhaust while running/pedaling and panting from the exertion of sport.

    It literally took our breath away. Our chests began to hurt. The children cried. Our eyes stung. It was hard to breathe for days afterward. I had to go to an allergist and to a doctor. We had to leave the park immediately and go home to take showers. We live in WLA and went to the park for fresh air and recreation!

    How ironic is it that a public park is a toxic place to be??!!!

    I pity the residents who live so close.

    The pilots and airport stakeholders do not seem to understand that the increase in toxic pollutants — nevermind the noise! — takes away liberty interests which cannot be compensated with liquid damages of money in court. The liberty interest is health and safety, the right to breathe without being harmed by known dangers and toxins.

    The UCLA studies on the health hazards of this airport’s toxicity provide ample evidence that it is a hazard and is inconsistent with health and safety for people, pets, children and families.

    Have a sense of civic responsibility and find a bit of compassion for your fellow human beings. If some of us are reasonably and rationally stating we are suffering because of X — well, have the human decency to consider the needs of those who are suffering, and forget about your toys, and your petty little superpowers of entitlement and flight. I don’t understand how anyone can give to charity and then fly in a private plane and harm their neighbors with such benign and happy neglect of the status quo.

  • John Porter

    The airport is an environmental issue. I live on the eastern edge of the airport, which means I reside in Los Angeles, not Santa Monica. I could care less what Santa Monica does within its’ city limits, but when the pollutants and particulate matter cross into my city, that’s another matter altogether. Since the airport has no way of controlling these airborne pollutants, there in the fundamental problem lies.

    I’m quiet sure any Santa Monica residents who support the airport, would not like me to drive my weekly garbage and dump it on their streets. That is basically what the airport does to me on a daily basis.

  • Chuck Mason

    Prop planes: Civilians spreading their wings. A prop plane gliding overhead is dreamlike.
    Jets: Corporations and the 1%. Noise, pollution, and high tension when they take off or land.
    Lose the jets and the kleptocracy of Santa Monica will close SMO to make more money on a shopping center.
    So …………… jets or The Grove?

  • Jan-Peter Flack

    The airport has to go since the Health and Safety concerns cannot be eliminated. Our right to a safe, clean city supercedes the frivolous aspirationes of a few hundred flyers. Most of which don’t even live in our neighborhood.
    The path is clear:
    An clean, transparent survey would quickly reveal that the majority of local residents are opposed to the airport. The City of Santa Monica in conjunción with our neighboring Cities should put a legal strategy and team together and take on the FAA for breach of it’s own safety standards.
    We all celebrate the morning the bulldozers dig into the tarmac!

  • RobN

    I have lived in Ocean Park since 1995 and we NEVER had low altitude, pattern flying student planes until mid 2009. SMO wanted to expand jet operations and in order to do so they pushed the slow loud obnoxious piston driven planes over our homes. So for all the jerks that say the airport was there first you’re just plain wrong, the airport expanded and the flight schools are now crapping all over our homes with horrible noise. My neighborhood sounds like swarming Kamikazes at Pearl Harbor. Planes circle every 2-3 minutes on weekends for an average of 40 seconds per plane because they are so bloody slow. The sad thing is the flight schools know they should fly higher and eliminate steep turns over our homes, but do they care…. obviously not at all. Close SMO it’s horrible.


    When SMO is closed those who are disappointed shouldn’t blame the parties that sought closer but should instead look to 1) the flight schools and 2) the jet owners, operators and clients, both of whom took advantage of the small airport and ruined it for everyone else.

  • John Murdock

    Bruce Landsberg, I read your bio (courtesy of the link you provided) and found it most interesting that you have a degree in psychology and your primary area of emphasis in the AOPA is safety and education regarding aviation matters. Why is that so interesting? Because when I read your article about SMO, your entire emphasis is on contract and educating the residents to live with the city’s contract and the status quo, not on safety. Your bio does not include a law degree, yet you state with supreme confidence that the city’s contract with FAA is “binding” and the residents should stop complaining and learn to live with it. We will let the courts decide what is “binding”, but we do not accept the notion that a binding contract allows the parties to the contract to spew life-threatening pollutants into the air. Curiously, for someone in a position of responsibility, you utterly fail to address the serious health&safety issues raised by independent academic studies, of which I am certain you must be aware. Is your interest in aviation safety only in the safety of the pilots who are members of the AOPA? Does your interest extend to the safety of children exposed to leaded fuels and ultrafine particulate matters that are known health hazards? In your work for the aviation industry, have you learned of the safety problems associated with breathing jet-fuel exhaust and leaded fuels? If you believe the residents are overstating the health hazards, perhaps you could use this forum to educate them with some scientific data on the extent of their overstatement and exaggerated fears, and explain to the Nan Waldman, the woman from West L.A. who writes above, that she and her niece and the twin children must have all been mistaken or imagining things when they all suffered the same effects from exposure to exhaust fumes at Clover Park. Or explain to Mike and his neighbors they are merely being “over-protective” parents by having a jet-fume curfew for their children because there is really no health issue caused by the fumes. Please, Bruce, we would love to see you raise the level of discourse above the yahoo-cowboy belligerent pilots who write to bully and belittle the residents, telling them to just get lost, improve the neighborhood by moving away if they don’t like airplanes. Your effort at amelioration falls far sadly short of the mark.

  • David Birney

    SMO is a health–noise and pollution– and safety hazard. It should be closed.
    David Birney

  • D Rant

    The People of the People’s Republic of Santa Monica are ignorant fools, operating under a delusion that the airport is toxic. As a resident of Los Angeles I find their arguments highly entertaining.

    Does your local airport really offer a greater hazard than the pollution from Los Angeles International just a few miles away, and the millions of vehicles traveling through the area daily? Of course not.

    You people are the definition of ponce. As one commenter said here, be careful what you wish for. Your airport, if it ever did close, would be developed into another rat trap for more arrogant hippies with illogical solutions to imaginary problems. Santa Monica isn’t special, it’s a dump. The airport is just a scapegoat. You only have yourselves to blame for your deteriorating lifestyles.