City attorney recommends alternative ballot measure to initiative designed to “preserve the status quo” at SMO


AOPA spotted in Santa Monica?

Santa Monica’s City Attorney, in a report to the City Council, says a proposed ballot measure by “the aviation community” would “deprive the City Council of its authority to…address adverse impacts of Airport operations on surrounding neighborhoods.”

At the Tues., June 24, City Council meeting, city staff will recommend that the council put an alternate measure on the ballot in response to the aviation lobby’s effort to wrest control of Santa Monica Airport (SMO) from the city.

The report, signed by City Attorney Marsha Moutrie, says the current initiative is backed by “vested interests at Santa Monica Airport” and would block the city from managing its leases with all businesses at SMO. Staff is currently exploring measures to reduce both noise and the sale of leaded fuel for piston-driven planes, as the availability of unleaded fuel increases. Such efforts would be halted if the initiative passes, the report says.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) has funded the initiative. The County Registrar of Voters is currently checking to see if it has enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. Still, Moutrie’s report insists it puts the city at risk because it is “clearly intended to preserve the status quo at [SMO] for the benefit of Airport businesses and Airport users.”

The report disputes AOPA’s contention that closure of SMO would mean overdevelopment of the city-owned land. “Council rejected this contention” at a March meeting and in May, “Council reiterated its commitment to low-density use of the Airport land… .,” the report says.

Moutrie has long contended that the ultimate question of whether SMO will close won’t be decided for years due to inevitable lawsuits and the certain involvement of the Federal Aviation Administration. Her report, however, states that:

“ [T]he proposed initiative goes much farther than giving the voters the right to decide the Airport’s future.  It attempts to also deprive the Council of its power as land owner to regulate the use of leaseholds and of its police power to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents and neighbors…” and that: “[Although] the presently proposed measure may well have appeal to voters because it would allow them to cast their vote on a singularly important land use matter, it would also protect vested interests at the Santa Monica Airport by shielding them against Council action.”

3 thoughts on “City attorney recommends alternative ballot measure to initiative designed to “preserve the status quo” at SMO

  1. I don’t understand how giving the people of Santa Monica, the power to chose the fate of the airport is a bad thing. Could there be agendas and interest in the council that would oppose this? That is a disturbing thought, if the council can act contrary to the voters of the city and the will of the people. Shame on the council to oppose this ballot process. Let the people speak for themselves. Regardless of how the item got to the ballot, in the end the people of Santa Monica can decide, not a small group of officials that each have their own agenda.

    • As a pilot based in Colorado, why would you be so interested in what happens in Santa Monica?

      Oh yes thats right, you are president of Peak Aero which operates private jet charters, and on its site quotes “Santa Monica, CA to Park City, UT” as one of Peak Aero’s ‘best value’ services using nice new Embraer Phenom 100 and 300 jets.

      In other words you and your company are one of those privileged few that we city residents are subsidizing.

      Please don’t bother pretending you give a hoot about the people of Santa Monica or their right to decide. You care only that this deception succeeds and your profit margin remains intact.

    • Charles, in the aviation industry’s measure, there is NO mention about the future fate of the land. It only stops CHANGE at the airport, and thus stops the park. It’s very deceptive if you spend time to really understand what it says, what its intentions are, and the political strategy behind it. Please reply if you find ANY language that talks about the “fate of the airport” land.

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