Santa Monica Lookout
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New Foundation Aims to Bring a Park to Santa Monica Airport Property

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

February 25, 2015 --There’s a new nonprofit in Santa Monica with a familiar name that has a goal of bringing a park to the City-owned Santa Monica Airport site.

Santa Monica Airport2Park Foundation announced its formation in a press release on Tuesday. 

The organization already existed under the same name as what Airport2Park board member John Fairweather told The Lookout was "an informal organization."

Fairweather wrote in an email that the move to a formal nonproift was necessary "because of the imminent likelihood (given the expiry of the 1984 agreement on July 1 or this year) of new park space being created on airport land, and the need to seek finance for any required park development."

While it is true that the 1984 agreement between the City and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that settled airport use expires in July, there is disagreement on whether that means any significant changes can be made. Among those who disagree are the FAA and other airport advocates.

"The legal underpinnings guaranteeing the airport remain unaffected," Santa Monica Airport Association President Bill Worden told The Lookout in November.

He added, "The City is still obligated under the federal loan guarantees until 2023 and the land is still dedicated to airport use in perpetuity under the 1948 instrument of transfer of the airport property to the city from the federal government after WWII."

Airport2Park looks to the recent election results as evidence the community is behind it. In November, Measure D that would have limited City Council control of the airport lost by nearly a 60-40 margin. The opposing Measure LC won by that same margin.

"Now that the election is over, we can return to constructive efforts to build a park for the benefit of all," said Airport2Park President Neil Carrey in the organization’s press release.

He went on to explain regarding the upcoming expiration of the 1984 agreement, "The City will gain control of nearly 12 acres that currently serve aviation purposes. This land was classified in the 1984 Agreement as 'non-aviation land,' but has had to be used for aviation purposes because of other requirements in the 1984 agreement. 

Carrey continued, "Those requirements expire July 1, and we at the foundation will be advocating for the City to take immediate steps to make that land available for public use."

Although there is disagreement on what can and will happen this summer, many people agree that the final decisions on the airport property will be made in a courtroom. 

Among those people is somebody who is very familiar with airport litigation--City Attorney Marsha Moutrie.

"This is not a situation where the federal government will easily let go of its hold on this land; and anyone who thinks that--and I say this with respect--is naive," said Moutrie during an August council meeting, adding that the status of the airport "will take years to sort out."

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