than 100 Rally for Airport Safety
By Anita Varghese
August 29 -- In what resembled
more a sports pep rally than a political
demonstration, more than 100 neighbors
of Santa Monica Airport voiced their
vehement opposition Tuesday evening
to a runway safety plan crafted by
The rally on the City Hall lawn -- which was
aired on evening newscasts -- took place before
Federal Aviation Administration officials presented
a plan to the City Council that fails to shorten
the length of the runway and would allow larger
jets to take off and land close to homes.
Rallied by Concerned Residents Against Airport
Pollution (CRAAP) and Friends of Sunset Park,
more than 75 residents of Santa Monica, Mar Vista
and West Los Angeles then packed the council chambers
to testify at a study session on airport safety.
“For more than 20 years, Santa Monica Airport
has been operating – by the FAA’s
own current standards – without any defined
runoff safety areas for emergency situations,”
said CRAAP director Martin Rubin.
“At Santa Monica Airport, in
case of an unforeseen emergency, aircraft
would run off either end of the runway,
continue down an embankment, over
a highly trafficked road and then
into the homes as close as 175 feet
from the runway,” Rubin told
The proposal by Federal Aviation
Administration officials -- which
is scheduled to be taken up by the
City Council on August 28 -- would
install 155-foot safety areas at either
end of the 5,000-foot runway.
But residents and City officials say the proposal
falls far short of the 1,000 total feet of safety
area mandated by FAA standards, but exempted at
Santa Monica Airport, which was built in 1946,
long before the regulations took effect and the
airport became a prime destination for corporate
FAA officials counter that the plan adequately
accommodates the larger D-2 aircraft
that are increasingly flying in and
out of the general aviation airport.
They contend that installing 130 feet
of light concrete beds at each end
of the runway to arrest speeding aircraft
is an dequate safety measure that
does not require shortening the runway.
Rubin, U.S. Congresswoman Jane Harman, Los Angeles
City Councilman Bill Rosendahl and airport area
residents believe the FAA’s runway safety
plan focuses too much on designs that would ensure
jet operations -- which have skyrocketed in recent
years -- continue and not enough on safety threats
to surrounding neighborhoods.
“Residents of Santa Monica and Los Angeles
who live near Santa Monica Airport are put at
heightened risk because of substandard safety
zones,” Rosendahl said in a written statement.
“The FAA has decided its top priority is
to maintain and enhance the airport’s operational
Harman, who represents Los Angeles
neighborhoods that surround Santa
Monica Airport, called the FAA plan
“After months of input from Santa Monica
Airport officials and the surrounding community,
I believe that the FAA’s recommendation
to mitigate the risks of runway overshoots is
insufficient to guarantee the safety of airport
users or the neighboring residents,” Harman
wrote to FAA administrator Marion Blakey.
“Continued access to the airport
needs to be balanced with safety for
all – pilots, passengers and
neighbors alike,” she wrote.