Future of Santa Monica Airport Up For Debate - NBC Southern California

Coverage of the debate surrounding the safety of the Santa Monica Airport

Future of Santa Monica Airport Up For Debate

The council expected about a hundred people to speak out about the future of the airport - a contentious issue that has the city divided.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Harrison Ford’s recent plane crash is putting Santa Monica’s airport at the center of a heated debate, as neighbors are strongly push for the airport to close down. Angie Crouch reports for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 23, 2015. (Published Tuesday, March 24, 2015)

    Opponents of the Santa Monica Airport are rallied outside Santa Monica City Hall Tuesday night in advance of a city council meeting.

    The council expected about a hundred people to speak out about the future of the airport — a contentious issue that has the city divided.

    The future of the Santa Monica Airport is literally up in the air as the city council plans to vote on how the facility should be operated moving forward.

    Opponents want the 227-acre airport shut down altogether, citing pollution, noise and safety. They cite 11 crashes of planes coming or going from Santa Monica airport since 1989 — the most recent being actor Harrison Ford’s crash on Penmar Golf Course.

    "The Harrison Ford crash was the crash heard round the world," said Alan Levenson, who lives near the airport runway.

    He is among those who planned to attend the city council meeting to complain about safety. Officials said the meeting may last until after midnight.

    "There’s too much risk here to have a plane 300 feet from houses on both ends," Levenson said.

    The city of Santa Monica’s agreement with the federal government for the use of the land expires July 1. Lawsuits are pending over what will happen to the land after that.

    The Federal Aviation Administration contends the city has to continue using the land as an
    airport indefinitely, but the city believes it has the right to limit operations.

    But airport supporters say the airport is needed during natural disasters, and if the airport is shut down air traffic from LAX would be allowed to fly lower over Santa Monica — and high rise buildings could go up along the shoreline.

    Pilot Christian Fry says the airport needs to remain operational.

    "The anti-airport people are fear mongering. We’ve never killed a Santa Monica resident in 100 years of operation that wasn’t in a plane," he said.

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