Turning Santa Monica Airport into a Park for Everyone


Santa Monica, CA – Airport2Park.org, a coalition of residents and groups formed to turn Santa Monica Airport into a great park will sponsor a workshop to envision what the park could be. The workshop, “From Airport to Park: Turning Santa Monica Airport into a Park for Everyone,” will be open to the public and will take place Thursday, October 3, 2013, 6:00 – 9:00 p.m., at the Mount Olive Church, 1343 Ocean Park Blvd., Santa Monica 90405.

Airport2Park.org is a coalition uniting residents who want to seize the once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a great park in place of the Santa Monica Airport,” said John Fairweather, Chair of Community Against Santa Monica Airport Traffic (CASMAT).

Background: On April 30, 2013, the Santa Monica City Council directed city staff to investigate reclaiming from the airport the “Quitclaim Parcel,” which includes the western 2,000 feet of the airport’s 5,000-foot runway, after July 1, 2015, which is when the City’s 1984 agreement with the FAA expires. Council members expressed their desire to replace the Quitclaim Parcel with a park.

Also on July 1, 2015, all leases to aviation tenants terminate, and in a very short time the airport might have a much shorter runway and no aviation services. Then it may be possible to close the entire airport and turn the whole runway and adjacent areas into parkland. When combined with adjacent Clover Park and the existing sports fields and dog-park at the airport, this would create the largest park in Santa Monica if not the entire Westside.

Surveys have shown that the public overwhelmingly favors turning Santa Monica Airport into a park. A park could provide for recreation and sports; trails and facilities for walking, hiking, jogging, and cycling; playgrounds for children; activities for seniors; artworks, gardens, quiet places and the re-creating of natural habitat. Airport buildings on Airport Avenue could become arts and cultural facilities. Buildings north of the runway now used for aircraft operations could become space for tech, environmental, and other business incubators; the rents to the city for these uses can support park operations. A park will also allow for improvement of north-south street connections to improve traffic circulation.

The Oct. 3 workshop will feature speakers who will discuss park conversions of other airports in the U.S. and around the world, and present ideas for the park that would replace the airport. Attendees will divide up into groups to contribute their own ideas for what the park could be.

Airport2Park.org is a coalition of residents that includes:

15 thoughts on “Turning Santa Monica Airport into a Park for Everyone

  1. I sued the city over this issue and still have a case to be presented to the court. This land was purchased with a parkland bond measure in 1926 and was paid off in the 60s. This land is either a park or an airport or both! No commercial development. There is a reason those soccer fields and dog park exist and not the over one million square feet of comercial development that was planned. Don’t make the same mistake as the playa vista wetlands ….get your governor to make it a regional park.

  2. It has been a dream of mine for almost 30 years the the airport get turned into a botanical garden park. I was even thinking of having a perimeter of low cost senior citizen housing and pre-schools so the elderly and children could help with the park and work together. But even if it is only a park that would be such an amazing blessing for our children and their children’s children for generations to come. A well thought out permaculture botanical garden would allow for low maintenance and offer a wonderful sanctuary for many to enjoy for centuries.

  3. The dream of stopping those nasty airplanes from flying around overhead is not a new one. I distinctly remember when I started flying out of Santa Monica in the late 1950’s, how passionately many local residents felt, wanting to close the airport.

    Who can deny the delights and benefits of turning what is now a smelly, noisy place, into a beautiful park ?

    Here’s the problem. We have an exploding population with an ever-increasing demand for various public services. Public services require funding. Tax revenue provides funding. Grass and trees are not known revenue producers. Development is.

    You really want Santa Monica Airport closed ? Be careful what you wish for – you just might get that. Now – be serious – you really think a typical revenue-starved govt. like the City Of Santa Monica can behave so criminally irresponsible as to do away with a potential major source of revenue ?

    You who are legitimately concerned & disturbed about the ever-increasing nastiness of city life…ARE BEING USED BY THE DEVELOPERS. THINK THRU what you are proposing.

    Peter F. Hartmann

    • Peter, I assure you we have thought this through, especially the financing, very thoroughly. We have no intention of allowing developers to ruin this once in a generation opportunity to improve the quality of life in and around Santa Monica for generations to come.

  4. Peter, we have thought this through and if you did a little investigation about the deed behind the land that the airport sits on you would know that it is deeded as a park. Ironically an airport is a considered a park but an office complex is not. My family lives downwind of the jets and to be honest, I would prefer just about anything else and it would be better for everyone’s collective health. The airport loses money and costs the City. If revenue is the issue, there are a lot of better alternatives. What is required is visioning and planning and that is what this group is doing. I applaud that. Further I have a hard time believing that the City of Santa Monica is revenue starved and unable to spend on public projects. Look at the greening they just did of Ocean Park for no other reason that aesthetics.

  5. I live under the approach path to rwy 21. in fact, AT the MAP. (missed approach point, where the pilot decides whether or not to go around. ) so we hear our share of planes. Every one of them. You can read “goodyear” on the tires. Heck, I can tell if a bolt is loose. and the Jet noise? Astounding. We might as well tell our friends that we live IN the airport. We have a 1 year old daughter and are looking to move her out of the constant smell of jet fuel asap. I am a pilot, and have always loved airplanes. Currently I hate them. BUT- when we move away, I’m sure I will find a love for them again. My point being, this is a personal temporary condition brought on by my stupidity to move to this house in this neighborhood. its not the airports fault, its mine. and any of you who live nearby and want to see it closed- shame on you for being so selfish. the airport was there before you were. You knew better. unless you bought the realtors BS pitch that ” there are talks to close the airport, sign here..” In my humble opinion the screwup was when the constituents allowed a 1995? decibel raise from 85 to 96db. this was to generate income from jet traffic for the city. ( my numbers are close, not exact, but get the point) the airport was failing and needed revenue, and this jet revenue was the solution. In my opinion, you’re beating your head against the proverbial wall trying to get it altogether closed. It’ll never happen. Try a middle ground. Ill bet, that if the jet traffic was reduced to 5 jets per day instead of 25, and the jet engine mechanic shops were kicked out, the airport could be part park and part small airport with capacity to aid in emergency situations and not be such a bother. Also, the small planes pass our house and you hardly hear them. (Unless they go around and slam it full throttle over my garage. )they knid of inspire a tranquil representation of personal freedom, trundling by. But the Jets? different story… but these are small costs of living in a city near an airport, whereas runaway runway usage by Jets is bordering on ridiculous. The city does earn money from the airport. far more than from trees, as Peter stated. Try a harmonious balance, as a complete closure will just never happen. ditch the jets and i bet youll all calm down. just my 2 cents.

    • Great post Jake. Jets are more noisy, smelly, and jarring, and so (for good reason) folks are bothered by them. I too think it would be interesting to see how local residents opinions would change if only piston engine planes were flying in and out of SMO…

      On a slightly different note, while I’m aware that in order to prove a point, folks often emphasize certain points and ignore others, I wonder about the less offensive forms of pollution that don’t get the same level of attention and activism – cars. Specifically, I wonder what the impact is of the daily flow of planes at SMO, compared to the daily flow of automobiles. I also quietly wonder how many supporters of the park initiative drive their cars to meetings, bike rides, and rallys, and if those folks consider the effects their car pollution has on area residents.

      • Josh,
        As a matter of fact, CASMAT did a post on exactly that subject (see ” http://www.casmat.org/2011/11/lead-in-aviation-fuel.html “). It turns out that pattern flying at SMO has historically been the equivalent in terms of lead content of around 1/3 million today’s cars driving past our front doors each day! That is piston planes only, not jets, so I’m not sure much would really change unless the flight schools were gone.

        Pattern flying has gone down a bit since the new landing fees were introduced, so that figure may have dropped somewhat.

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  9. There has been an airport here since before World War II. I love the fact that we have a small airport in the neighborhood- did you know you can take flying lessons? Can you name one other small airport in Los Angeles? I can’t. Isn’t it also wonderful that we have a cafe and a museum dedicated to planes within our local, very small airport/park. What a boon! There are other ordinary parks within walking distance. Go to those if you prefer a park without planes. If you purchased your home before WWII, then you definitely have a right to complain about the darned little airport. If not… then do the community a favor and please get over yourself.

    • Everyone under the pattern flying loop knows that you can take flying lessons at SMO, the noise drives the neighbors crazy. Local surveys with thousands of respondents prove that. There are 6 fixed-winged FBO flight schools based at SMO, no other general aviation airport in the state has more. Furthermore, no other airport in the state is as closely or as completely surrounded by houses. Also, did you know there have been 36 fatalities associated with SMO since the year 2000 alone (six this year, two last), and that 2/3 of the accidents in the last few years have been flight-school related? Here are some other things about SMO you should know.

      We have LAX, Van Nuys, Burbank, Torrance, Hawthorne, Compton/Woodley, Long Beach, Whiteman-Pacoima, El Monte, Los Alamitos Airfield within 40 minutes drive of SMO. Twenty airports within an hour. Most metropolitan areas might have one or two airports.

      The cafe and museum are great, but I’m sure both would have a lot more visitors if there were a great park next door used by thousands of people each day.

      As to the argument that the airport was there first, such arguments cannot be used to prevent dealing with an obvious hazard. See this counter argument.

      Like it or not, change at SMO is inevitable after 2015, the City’s recent lawsuit makes that abundantly clear. Airport2Park was established to make sure that any land no longer required for aviation is repurposed for a park as overwhelmingly favored by the community. We are not here to debate the merits or lack thereof of the airport, we are here to discuss what happens to the land when the airport is gone.

  10. I don’t hold out much hope for the lawsuit – I reckon it will be dismissed on statute of limitations grounds, meaning that the City won’t be able to get a prior judicial determination of its rights and will have to just hope that the FAA won’t try to seize the land when it tries to close the airport. I think the campaign needs to focus on getting Congress to include SMO in a lands bill, authorizing cession of the federal claim, since it looks like the FAA won’t do it on its own. (CT)

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