Santa Monica Lookout
Bike Ride Promises Glimpse of Santa Monica Airport's Possible Futures
By Jason Islas
September 3, 2013 -- Two advocates of closing Santa Monica's embattled airport will host a bike tour of the 96-year-old airfield on September 15 to discuss its future.
With the City's agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration set to expire in 2015, airport-closure advocates Frank Gruber and Michael Brodsky will host a 4.5 mile bike ride around the 227-acre parcel.
Billed as part community outing and part information session, Gruber and Brodsky promise that participants in the Sunday bike ride will “learn about some of the current issues relating to this facility and hear about potential creative new uses for this property.”
As the group rides around the airport, the “hosts will make presentations, offer views & options for this space at different stops along the ride,” according to a press release put out by the organizers.
The ride, which starts at 10 a.m. at the southwest corner of Clover Park, will be “about looking at what other uses that property would be good for,” said Cynthia Rose, director of Santa Monica Spoke, the local chapter of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition.
Rose said that Santa Monica Spoke will be providing ride support for the excursion, which she described as a chance for “information gathering” about what uses the public would like to see for some or all of the land currently used by the airport.
“A lot of those uses are basically more public access, so we are excited to support the ride and get the presentation that can illuminate some of those visions,” Rose said.
The ride will also be an opportunity for participants to learn just how difficult it may prove for the City to close the airport.
While 2015 marks the end of the City's operating agreement with the FAA, it remains unclear just how much discretion Santa Monica will have over whether the agreement is extended.
The agreement was signed in 1984 after the FAA successfully challenged the City's attempts to cap operations at the airport.
The expiration of that agreement, however, has become a pivotal date for many opponents of the airport who see it as an opportunity the City to close the airport, either partially or totally.
There is also another agreement, signed in 1948, which FAA officials argue requires the City of Santa Monica to operate the airport in perpetuity.
Airport opponents point out that roughly 2,000 feet of runway isn't covered by that agreement and could theoretically be replaced by a park or other non-aviation use, effectively restricting the types of plans that could fly out of the airport to small propeller planes.
The airport has proven to be a very divisive issue in Santa Monica, with supporters arguing that it is an important part of the bayside city's history. They have also cited the economic advantages of having an airport in the city.
Opponents have called the airport a health hazard and a source of constant noise pollution.
The September 15 bike ride is about exploring all possibilities for the future, Rose said, since it is possible that the FAA could require that the airport remain open as-is.
“Just not talking about (that possibility) doesn't make it go away,” she said.
Organizers are planning a follow-up meeting on October 3, when the hosts will ask participants to design a public park that could theoretically be built on the airport site.
For more information about the September 15 ride, visit SMSpoke.org.
|copyrightCopyright 1999-2013 surfsantamonica.com. All Rights Reserved.|