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Library Meeting Will Discuss Possible FAA Changes for Santa Monica Airport

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 Hector Gonzalez
Staff Writer

June 8, 2015 -- Residents will get to weigh in on a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposal for flight path changes involving more than 22 airports across the Los Angeles Basin, including Santa Monica Airport.

Specifics of the FAA's Southern California Metroplex Project were scheduled to be released this week when the agency makes public a federal environmental assessment of the plan. On Wednesday, June 17, at the Santa Monica Public Library, 601 Santa Monica Boulevard, from 4 to 7 p.m., FAA officials will host a public workshop on the document, the agency announced.

Federal aviation officials are trying to solve congestion, “airport activity in close proximity” and other “limiting factors” that stymie airport efficiency in regions with higher concentrations of airports, according to an FAA website devoted specifically to the project.

Officials collected input from in-house and outside experts to create specific plans for each of 21 “metroplexes” the FAA identified across the country, including the LA Basin. Southern California Metroplex includes airports from Santa Barbara to San Diego and as far east as Riverside.

“By optimizing airspace and procedures in the metroplex, the FAA provides solutions on a regional scale, rather than focusing on a single airport or set of procedures,” according to

Each metroplex plan takes into account “myriad factors, including safety, efficiency, capacity, access and environmental impact,” the website said.

An advisory from the City urged residents to attend the June 17 workshop while also noting Santa Monica “has not been involved in identifying or evaluating changes to flight procedures,” said City spokesperson Debbie Lee.

“City staff continues to reiterate to the FAA Santa Monica's opposition to any modifications that would change headings on takeoff from the current heading, by which aircraft fly directly to the coast rather than over Santa Monica's hills and more residences,” said Lee.

On its website, the FAA says the SoCal Metroplex Project “would not result in any ground disturbances or increase” the number of flights over Southern California.

But in its advisory,  the City said that the project would create “a narrower flight path resulting in a concentration of flights over certain areas.”

“Residents in areas under the concentrated flight path may experience more noise,” said Lee.

At a City Council meeting in March when the Santa Monica Airport was on the agenda, more than a 120 people turned out to speak at a public hearing that stretched well past midnight. Judging by that turnout, FAA officials could get an earful next week.

Community Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic (CASMAT), which brought dozens of members and supporters to the public hearing in March, is gearing up for the workshop, its website said.

“We likely won’t know until June 10th if this project makes any significant changes to SMO flight paths, however, we are posting this information here early to let you know that we may need to mobilize people to attend on June 17th  if it does,” said a June 5 posting on CASMAT's website said.

Airport opponents view the end of this month as a milestone in their battle to close the facility: It's when Santa Monica's 1984 agreement with the FAA to operate Santa Monica Airport as an airport expires.

But in a lengthy legal opinion to the City Council in March, Santa Monica City Attorney Marsha Moutrie  wrote that any move by the City this year to close the airport would result in “immediate action” by the FAA to keep the facility operating. (“FAA Would Likely Win Court Battle to Prevent Santa Monica Airport Closure, City Attorney Says,” March 19, 2015)

Santa Monica probably won't gain full control of the airport until all legal disputes are resolved in court, Moutrie wrote.

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