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City Council Candidates Take on the Airport Debate

Phil Brock For Council 2014

Sue Himmelrich

Paid for by the Coalition of Santa Monica City Employees (CSMCE).  Not authorized by a candidate or committee controlled by a candidate.

Airport Measure

Michael Feinstein for Santa Monica City Council 2014

Frank Gruber for Santa Monica City CouncilRichard Bloom for State Assembly 2014Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau

By Lookout Staff

Editor’s Note: The Lookout News sent several questions to the 14 candidates running for City Council. Each answer was limited to 125 words. The Lookout is publishing the candidates’ answers over several days. In each posting, the candidates' answers will be shown in the same order as their names appear on the ballot or in reverse order.

October 22, 2014 -- Should Santa Monica Airport fully or partially close as an aviation facility? Is so, when should this happen and when will it happen?

Name: Sue Himmelrich
Status: Challenger
Occupation: Attorney at Western Center on Law and Poverty
Answer: The city should close the airport and set a course to transform the site into a major public park with significant passive open space as well as recreational space as soon as possible.  The policies of maintaining development around the airport to no greater than currently exists and voter approval of any significant changes are sound. I pray we never see the day when a plane leaving from or arriving at SMO misses the runway and crashes into one of the surrounding residential neighborhoods. Not only is the noise pollution oppressive, the airport is a documented producer of ultra fine particle pollution up to 660 meters into the residential neighborhoods.  See, our Congressman Henry Waxman’s letter demanding explanation and investigation from the SCAQMD.

Name: Jerry Rubin
Status: Challenger
Occupation: Peace Activist
Answer: It should be closed in 2015 and turned into a wonderful park area. Wish it could be closed now!

Name: Pam O’Connor
Status: Incumbent
Occupation: Historic Preservation Planner
Answer: I support Measure LC for local control of the airport.  Regarding closure, I think all of the Council members have made clear that each of us, including myself, favors closure of all or part of the Airport if the adverse impacts of Airport operations are not significantly reduced.   Because we are in litigation, and the statements of seated Council members could adversely impact that litigation, we have been counseled not to say more, for now.  That’s frustrating but I have to put the City’s interests first, so I can’t say more at this time.

Name: Terence Later
Status: Challenger
Occupation: Entertainment Consultant
Answer: No, it should not close because we need Santa Monica Airport as an emergency resource. In 2012 the city spent nearly two million dollars to draw up an emergency plan that includes the Santa Monica Airport. We have an 8 square mile restricted airspace over our city because of the SM airport. Building height limits on the takeoff and landing path of the SM Airport would disappear if the airport was closed, causing a greater number of high rises to be built in Santa Monica and West LA.

Name: Frank Gruber
Status: Challenger
Occupation: Urban Affairs Writer and Lawyer
Answer: It should be closed, when the 1984 Settlement Agreement with the FAA expires next July 1. The airport has not benefited the City financially and is a major producer of air and noise pollution. The key strategic decision for the council between now and then will be how to make the decision to close the airport so that the litigation over that is in federal court, not FAA administrative proceedings. The FAA is doing everything it can to stay out of federal court, since the agency knows that it has no case.

Name: Phil Brock
Status: Challenger
Occupation: President/CEO of Studio Talent Group
Answer: In late 2015, our city can reclaim 35 acres of the westernmost runway without battling the FAA. With the shortened runway, large jets will no longer be able to use SMO. We should also change all leases to short term rentals at current market rates, and not renew any leases until they all expire in July 2015. The FAA has said they will return control of SMO to our city in 2023. At that time, residents should vote on whether to close the airport, and how the land should be used.  In the interim, we can seek permission to sell cleaner aviation fuel and stop flight schools. Vote NO on Measure D (promoted by special interest groups), vote YES on Measure LC for Local Control.

Name: Nick Boles
Status: Challenger
Occupation: Non-Profit Consultant/Entrepreneur
Answer: At this point in time, we should focus on pushing through a partial closure of the airport. We should begin this process immediately following November elections.  For this reason, I support Measure LC.  The city needs more leverage in negotiating future contracts with federal agencies that might alter operations at the Santa Monica Airport.  With greater leverage, the city will have a better understanding of the legal battles and carefully avoid costly losses.

Name: Whitney Scott Bain
Status: Challenger
Occupation: Journalist

Name: Zoë Muntaner
Status: Challenger
Occupation: Founder/Chief Compassion Officer, Writer, Creative Activist, Chief Strategy Officer
Answer: Look for the answer in my website, coming soon with a blog on this subject.

Name: Kevin McKeown
Status: Incumbent
Occupation: Apple Technology Consultant for Local Public Schools in Santa Monica and Malibu
Answer: Santa Monica Airport seen from above is an aircraft carrier afloat in a sea of homes.  No one would ever put it there now, with inadequate runway buffers, closer to more residences than any other airport in the country.  Sustainability and safety both argue for closing the airport. The Airport has about the same employment and economic yield as a medium-size strip mall.  Those meager benefits clearly don’t balance the safety, air pollution, and other impacts of having a jetport in a residential neighborhood. Airport special interests have mounted a deceptive campaign, trying to trick voters, stoking and manipulating fears of development.  Don’t be fooled. Retain our rights to the airport land we own. Please vote NO on Measure D, and YES on Measure LC.

Name: Richard McKinnon
Status: Challenger
Occupation: Business Owner
Answer: Closed. We should start the process of closure in 2015 when the Federal lease on the western end of the Airport expires and work from there. In the meantime airport aviation leases should become month to month, the City should insist on full cost recovery from the Airport, we should set stringent noise and pollution standards and begin to measure both with a view to prosecuting breaches. In the meantime the City should pass LC. And we should get the jets out of the airport.

Name: Jon Mann
Status: Challenger
Occupation: Teacher
Answer: I was the first candidate to advocate closing SMO when the lease expires in 2015, and use the land for a park as was originally intended with the bond money that purchased that property. Since litigation to close SMO is ongoing, during the interim, jets should be banned, runways shortened, stronger prohibitions against noise and toxic pollution must be imposed. Times have changed and Santa Monica has become densely populated, and if the people want a park, give the people what they want! The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few! A clean and pollution free park serves the residents, not out of town celebrities and rich politicians.

Name: Michael Feinstein
Status: Challenger
Occupation: Author/Writer
Answer: The ballot has Measure LC on it, which would give RESIDENTS control of the fate of the airport. I support converting Santa Monica Airport (SMO) into a multi-purpose/ multi-use great park – along with cutting edge solar power generation, underground water storage to help us in times of drought, and expanded/synergistic arts/cultural/educational uses on the southwestern end. I don’t support new commercial development at SMO. The land at SMO is land we own – we residents bought it with a park bond in 1926. We will regain control starting with the 35+ acres 'quit claim' parcel on SMO's western edge in 2015.

Name: Jennifer Kennedy
Status: Challenger
Occupation: Manager/Consultant
Answer: The Council should continue aggressive efforts to close the airport and continue to restrict aviation uses. Reclaiming the western parcel to shorten. The runway and eliminate jets is critical in 2015. I support a yes vote on Measure LC, and a no vote on Measure D.

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