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|Clash Over Shortening Santa Monica Airport Runway Goes to Commission Tonight|
By Niki Cervantes
May 2, 2017 -- An idea meant to curb jet traffic at Santa Monica Airport is heading for a potential collision tonight, as two versions of proposals for shortening the runway by almost a third go to the City Airport Commission.
Reducing the runway is a key feature of the “consent decree” between the council and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which was announced in January and, it is hoped, will end decades of battling by closing SMO at the end of 2028 ("City, FAA Agree to Close Santa Monica Airport in 2028," January 28, 2017).
In the interim, the decree cleared the way for shortening the length of SMO’s runway by 1,500 feet, potentially precluding jet operations.
But those who fought for decades to see the airport closed are skeptical of how committed the City is to reducing jet traffic with a new runway design.
Alan Levenson, of No Jets Santa Monica Airport, said his group supports placing the shorter runway in the middle of the former runway, giving equal separation to the homes on either end.
But National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) has filed court documents contending the reduction is, in effect, a near-ban off jets at SMO.
As much as 96 percent of existing jet operations would be made impossible by the 1,500-foot reduction of the runway, now almost 4,900 feet in length.
The NBAA is asking the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. for a stay and an injunction on the reduction ("National Aviation Group Asks Court to Delay Reducing Santa Monica Airport Runway," March 8, 2017).
The Airport Commission meeting is at 7 p.m. tonight on the second floor of City Hall, at 1685 Main St, in the Civic Center.
Levenson is clearly unhappy with how the project is being handled.
“We had originally been told on January 28th by City Manager Rick Cole and Mayor Ted Winterer that the shortening would be completed in 3 months,” he said in an email circulated to rally groups members to Tuesday’s meeting.
Then, Levenson said, the process became longer.
He said his organization was told the reduction would take more time “because of the difficulties with the processes of removing the 1500 (feet) of what we now know is recyclable asphalt.”
“The latest completion estimate is now the end of the year with no removal of asphalt, just painting some yellow lines, moving some lights and adding some short taxiways,” he said. "Yes, that will take almost a year to do!"
Talk of using white lines for planes to taxi and use of the ends for “takeoff and roll out ... effectively lengthens the runway beyond the mandated 3500,” he said.
The comment form on the shortening can be found at http://bit.ly/RunwayForm
The City Council will consider the recommendations from tonight’s meeting on May 24.
“If the City Council does not take action on actually removing the asphalt to shorten the runway and/or agrees with aviation to paint white lines, then the consent decree will have the effect of giving away to aviation the use of the Western Parcel," Levenson wrote.
This would leave neighboring residents "with a growing jetport for at least twelve long, dangerous, noisy, unhealthful years,” he said.
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