Santa Monica Lookout
|Airport Measure Litigation Halted Until After Election|
By Jonathan Friedman
August 30, 2014 -- A California Court of Appeal panel this week rejected an anti-Santa Monica Airport faction’s request to take the aviation interests-backed Measure D off the November ballot. This marks the third legal defeat for the faction in a little more than a week.
Jonathan Stein, attorney for the faction, told The Lookout none of the defeats are based on the merits of his client’s lawsuits, but rather the decisions said they were filed too early. Stein has another lawsuit against Measure D pending with the Court of Appeal.
"If somehow [Measure D] were to win, we would bring these exact same issues back into court," Stein said.
Measure D supporters were celebrating Stein’s latest legal defeat in a press release issued Friday morning with the sub-heading "Lawyer filing lawsuits now 0 for 3, and all voters should be glad he struck out."
The press release quotes Measure D supporter John Jerabek saying, “The costly harassment lawsuits by Mr. Stein and these plaintiffs have not distracted us from our goal of giving voters the power to decide the future of 227 acres of low-density airport land.”
If passed, Measure D would establish a requirement of voter approval to make most changes at the airport property, including partial or full closure of the aviation facility.
The property is owned by the City, and Measure D backers have advertised Measure D as a method to prevent municipal officials from “over-developing” the site.
Stein shares an opinion with many other opponents that calling Measure D a solution for limiting development is deceptive. The measure’s true purpose, opponents say, is to keep the airport open indefinitely.
"The reason we filed the lawsuits is because Measure D is all about preserving the status quo of the airport, and yet it says it's about redevelopment of airport land," Stein said. "That fundamental deception is at the heart of these lawsuits."
Responding to Measure D supporters’ baseball-themed dig at him, Stein said, "If they think that is striking out, they must assume baseball has one inning. I always thought it had nine. All we did is strike out in the first inning, and we have eight innings to go."
Even if Measure D passes, it is not clear it would go into effect. In response to Measure D’s qualification for the ballot through a petition signed by 9,800 residents, the City Council decided to offer voters the rival Measure LC that would give municipal officials more flexibility on the future of the property.
Some legal experts say Measure LC would cancel out Measure D if it were to receive more votes.
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