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Santa Monica Airport Advisor Nelson Hernandez Shares Final Thoughts
I hope this email finds you in good health. I consider this a very special email because it will be my last communication to you as a group. I am happy to share that on October 6th, I am retiring and will be leaving my post as Senior Advisor of Airport Affairs.
Thirty-four years of military, federal, state, regional and local government service is enough, or as we say in Spanish, Basta! (Or is 34 years enough? See below.) Indulge me as I share some of my personal insights on the past two years of work. It has been quite an adventure!
“Closing the airport is a lost cause, the FAA will never agree.”
“The City is not serious about regaining control of airport land.”
“Big money interests will never let the airport close.”
“The former City Attorney is secretly trying to sabotage the case.”
“The 1948 Instrument of Transfer is iron clad."
“The 1994 grant assurances are bullet proof.”
“SMO is part of the national aviation system and the entire American aviation system will collapse without it!”
I listened to these opinions, and began my work determined and optimistic.
Many people thought shortening the runway would never happen yet construction to shorten the runway begins October 9 and is scheduled to be complete by December 30. According to national aviation experts and local air traffic controllers, we anticipate a 45 percent reduction in jet traffic.
How did we accomplish this? It started and ended with community support and courage by the City Council, City Manager and City Attorney. In my view, our outside legal counsel at Morrison & Foerster also did an outstanding job.
But in the end, it was people power over a small but determined elite. To you, the Santa Monica Community, I say congratulations!
In 2017, because Council’s policy to eliminate subtenant leases, and bring all tenants to market rates, the Airport will generate over $13M in annual rent revenue.
This means the airport will be financially self-sufficient, generate enough funds to repair and replace facilities, (there is a huge back logged of deferred maintenance) and finally repay the debt owed to Santa Monica taxpayers. A job well done.
Bad times is when you need friends and family. I am hurt deeply by what happened to Puerto Rico -- the enchanted island that truly lives up to its name. If you want to help Puerto Rico, I encourage you to visit when the time is right and stay for as long as possible.
Despite the new travel restrictions imposed by the President my passport is valid, I think?. So, eventually once Puerto Rico is a bit more stable I will travel overseas and return to the USA, if allowed back in. Ha ha! I will also definitely teach yoga. Given the zaniness in DC, I will continue to write political satire.
I will miss the work at the City and hope you will continue to remain engaged and active on all airport issues and the City in general. And by the way my, my encouragement to remain engaged in airport issues also applies to the pro-aviation activists.
I want to thank my colleagues at City Hall for their support. I encourage everyone to treat each other with respect and work together to keep Santa Monica a wonderful community.
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