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Santa Monica Airport Commission Chair Says Planned Commercial Flights Set ‘Alarming Precedent’  

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By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

January 27, 2017 -- In a little more than a week, low-fare commercial flights are scheduled to begin taking off from and landing at Santa Monica Airport (SMO). Anti-airport activists told the City Council on Tuesday that this should not happen.

Among those addressing the council was Santa Monica Airport Commission Chair Peter Donald, who said JetSuiteX’s plan to begin commercial flights at SMO on February 6 would set an “alarming precedent.”

“SMO was never intended to be used by this kind of commercial jet traffic,” said Donald, who was reading from a letter approved by the entire commission the previous night.

He continued, “This is a dangerous intrusion into our community’s life. It is unconscionable if allowed to proceed.”

The council has not taken an official position on JetSuiteX’s plan, although Mayor Ted Winterer was quoted in local media this week saying the City would use all “legal means” to prevent the company from beginning its operation without permits.

Winterer is expected to speak at a rally against JetSuiteX taking place near the airport at Santa Monica Business Park on February 4.

The event was organized by Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution (CRAAP) and supported by various other groups, including the Airport2Park Foundation.

JetSuiteX CEO Alex Wilcox told The Lookout earlier this month that the company does not need any permits for its operation, saying the City was "illegally attempting to regulate air commerce."

The company had applied to lease space at SMO, and Airport Director Stelios Makrides refused to process the application because he deemed it incomplete since it did not include an environmental analysis and other information (“Santa Monica Officials Illegally Attempting Air Commerce Regulation, JetSuiteX CEO Says,” January 13, 2017).

This dispute is likely headed to court, increasing the City's list of ongoing SMO litigation--including legal disputes with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and aviation tenants it is trying to evict from the airport, which sits on City property.

Although the City is taking on various legal battles, anti-airport activist Alan Levenson told the council on Tuesday that the governing body needs to take more aggressive action.

He called for the council to take “real action,” which he defined as “the kind of action that leaves no doubt in anybody’s mind that we mean business, that [the council] mean[s] business.”

Levenson added, “It’s time for us to be the aggressor, not in words but in actions. Please defend our land and our citizens from an enemy who does not care about our laws, our property, our community or our health.”

No council member responded to the public comments. The people were speaking prior to the council going into closed session to discuss various lawsuits, including several involving SMO.

Council members are prohibited by State law from talking about what happens during closed session unless official action is taken.

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