Santa Monica Lookout
|Residents’ Health Protected by Eviction of Airport Tenant, Santa Monica Official Says||
By Jonathan Friedman
October 3, 2016 -- One of the City’s top officials defended last month’s eviction of a major Santa Monica Airport airport tenant as a method to protect residents’ health.
Nelson Hernandez, senior advisor to the City Manager on Airport Affairs, told The Lookout that because longtime tenant American Flyers sells lead fuel, it is responsible for spraying Santa Monica and Los Angeles residents "with about 1,100 pounds of toxic lead fumes annually."
American Flyers was handed a 30-day eviction notice on September 16.
The company contacted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to challenge the eviction. Fellow longtime tenant Atlantic Aviation made the same move to challenge its eviction (“Major Santa Monica Airport Tenant Issued Eviction Notice,” September 16, 2016.)
The FAA announced last week that it had opened an investigation against the City about its recent airport practices, which critics say is an attempt to starve the facility out of existence (“FAA Opens Probe of City Plans to Close Santa Monica Airport,” September 28, 2016).
Regarding American Flyers, Hernandez noted that lead is a toxic material not considered safe at any level by the Environmental Protection Agency.
"Despite the known dangers of leaded fuel and a viable alternative, FAA has yet to phase it out and they are trying to stop us from offering an unleaded alternative,” Hernandez wrote in an email.
He continued, “Of course the City will continue to protect the health, safety and welfare of Santa Monica and Los Angeles residents.”
City officials had a very different opinion of American Flyers nearly two decades ago when they approved the first multi-year lease in 2000 for the company that had been at the airport since 1997 on a month-to-month agreement (“American Flyers Lands Long-term Spot at Airport,” April 19, 2000).
A staff report for an April 2000 City Council meeting does not address the issue of lead, but praises American Flyers for its understanding of “the sensitivity of its proximity to the residential areas.”
Although the lease was not necessarily approved with the enthusiasm of bringing a major restaurant to the city, then-Mayor Ken Genser called it “the best we can do now” and “one that's compatible with the neighbors."
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