Santa Monica Lookout
CRAAP Backs Challengers in Santa Monica Council Race
By Jason Islas
October 2, 2012 -- Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution, a decade-old group that advocates for the closure of Santa Monica's airport, endorsed four challengers for City Council.
The group, which formed in 2003 when residents of West Los Angeles and Santa Monica became worried about the pollution from SMO, also chose to snub the two incumbents, Gleam Davis and Terry O'Day.
“We've decided not to play nice with the incumbents,” said Martin Rubin, CRAAP director, adding that the choice was “absolutely” a rejection of the current Council's record on SMO.
“Santa Monica Airport, under the conditions that it exists, it's time for them to close it,” Rubin said.
Instead of endorsing the incumbents, CRAAP endorsed Planning Commissioners Richard McKinnon and Ted Winterer -- both of whom have received endorsements by slow-growth groups like Santa Monica Coalition for a Livable City and Santa Monicans for Responsible Growth.
Former Planning Commissioner and Lookout columnist Frank Gruber also got the group's endorsement along with former City Council member Tony Vazquez.
“I'm honored that the concerned residents of Sunset Park and Ocean Park have trust and confidnece in my to carry out their mission,” said Vazquez.
Gruber, who said that he was “gratified” to receive the endorsement, said “I believe the airport must be closed not only to alleviate these impacts but also because of the once-in-a-geneartion opportunity the city has to regain the airport land.”
"In making our choice, we considered how candidates presented themselves at our September 13th SMO-Focused Candidates Forum and the opinions from our CRAAP group members, as well as other local neighborhood groups' opinions,” Rubin wrote in a press release Monday.
“Rising to the top of the list were these four candidates experienced with Santa Monica government," he wrote.
In Monday's release, Rubin listed three criteria that were important in the group's decision.
Each candidate had to show support for “open space in place of the airport and adding traffic arterials to help alleviate Westside traffic.”
They have also shown support for a resolution passed by the City Council in 1981, which calls for the closure of the airport as soon as possible.
Finally, the candidates had to show support for “for adding Los Angeles representation to the Santa Monica Airport Commission in an advisory non-voting capacity.”
Rubin -- who lives to the Southeast of SMO in West Los Angeles - - said that O'Day would've gotten the endorsement except that O'Day did not support the third criterion.
The decision, O'Day said, “shows that CRAAP has a strong L.A. influence.”
“I took a position that is the wisest for Santa Monica residents. Ultimately this is Santa Monica's airport and Santa Monica's responsibility,” he said.
The group's endorsements paralleled the ratings given to candidates by another group concerned with closing the airport -- Community Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic (CASMAT).
Though CASMAT does not endorse candidates, on September 24 the group released a rating of each candidate which reflected how CASMAT members believed the candidates would vote on airport matters.
Vazquez, Winterer, Gruber and McKinnon got high marks, according to CASMAT's rating system. The incumbents received low scores. (Anti-Airport Group Has Little Confidence in Santa Monica Council Incumbents, September 25, 2012)
CRAAP weighed, “all available information before deciding whom we support to be seated in the year 2015 when the Council will make very important decisions regarding the future of SMO,” Rubin said.
All of the Council members elected this November will still be serving in 2015 when the lease governing SMO -- held by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) -- expires.
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