Santa Monica Lookout
Efforts to Turn Santa Monica Airport into Park Get Sierra Club’s Support
By Lookout Staff
October 1, 2013 -- Plans to turn Santa Monica Airport into a public park have won the backing of the Sierra Club, Airport2Park.org, the coalition spearheading the drive, announced Monday.
The national organization lauded the plan, which would require the closing of the 96-year-old airport when the 1984 agreement between the City and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expires in 2015 and replacing it with a park on the 227 acres of publicly owned land.
“The Sierra Club believes that the replacement of SMO with a great park including land for hiking and restoration of native species would not only address public health needs, but would also offer very much needed open space to the west-side of Los Angeles and Santa Monica area,” said David A. Haake, M.D., Chairman of the West Los Angeles group of the Sierra Club.
In a letter to Airport2Park.org, Haake said the club “strongly supports” the coalition’s effort and urges the City of Santa Monica, the City of Los Angeles, the County of Los Angeles, California State, and Federal legislatures as well as all appropriate Federal agencies and administrations to “work toward that end.”
Airport2Park.org welcomed the group’s support.
“We are pleased to receive this endorsement from the Sierra Club,” coalition officials wrote in a statement issued Monday. “In the future we expect to receive more endorsements from environmental groups, but given the Sierra Club’s stature in the environmental movement, we are honored that this is our first environmental endorsement.”
The coalition was formed after the City Council in April directed staff to investigate reclaiming the “Quitclaim Parcel” that includes the western 2,000 feet of the 5,000-foot runway from the airport after the agreement with the FAA expires on July 1, 2015 and replacing it with a park.
When the agreement terminates, coalition officials said, “all leases to aviation tenants terminate, and in a very short time the airport might have a much shorter runway and no aviation services. Then it may be possible to close the entire airport and turn the whole runway and adjacent areas into parkland.”
The new park could be combined with adjacent Clover Park and the existing Airport Park to create “the largest park in Santa Monica if not the entire Westside,” according to coalition officials.
The coalition is composed of individuals as well as a number of groups, including Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution (CRAAP), Community Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic (CASMAT) and Sunset Park Anti-Airport, Inc. (SPAA).
Its goal is to galvanize community opposition to the airport around the idea of building a park ahead of 2015 when an agreement between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the City officially ends.
Airport2Park.org will hold a public workshop Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Mt. Olive Lutheran Church (14th and Ocean Park Boulevard), to “envision what a park could be and what it could mean to the community,” coalition officials said.
The workshop will feature an illustrated talk from noted landscape architect and parks designer Mark Rios, who recently designed the award-winning Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles and has done work in Santa Monica.
After the talk, attendees at the workshop will break into groups to brainstorm over ideas for what features a park at the Santa Monica Airport site might contain, coalition officials said.
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