Los Angeles Times
Santa Monica city officials are considering on Tuesday, July 10, 2012 a plan they say would cut airport noise. This is a file photo from the Santa Monica Airport.
The Santa Monica City Council on Tuesday is expected to take up a controversial flight incentive program that they say could cut flight traffic and reduce airport noise.
Under the plan being considered, city officials could approve up to $90,000 that would go toward reimbursing Santa Monica-based flight schools to take some of their traffic to other regional airports.
Neighboring cities are already up in arms over the potential for the plan.
"I'm against it," said Lomita Mayor James Gazeley, who sent a letter to Santa Monica officials requesting a study on impacts to neighboring cities. "I don't think it is right or fair to burden other cities."
Torrance Mayor Frank Scotto, who also sent a letter to Santa Monica, questioning the plan.
"It's very disappointing," he said. "Normally cities work together."
He said he's spoken with pilots in the Torrance Airport Association, who said that if the plan is approved, they would fly to Santa Monica Airport and do "touch-and-goes" there.
"But we don't want that to happen," Scotto said.
If approved, the plan would pay $150 per flight to take off and land at other local airports during federal holidays and weekends. The plan would start out as a six-month voluntary program, which would be set to expire on Dec. 31, 2012.
The airport staff gets frequent complaints from residents about aircraft noise and a majority of the calls come during the weekends and holidays, Santa Monica officials said.
Many of the flights come from repetitive takeoff and landings by the airport's pilot flight training.
According to its website, the Santa Monica Airport, which sits five miles northwest of LAX, houses 422 aircraft, which includes 19 jets, 381 propeller planes and 22 helicopters. In 2010, it had 104,950 takeoffs and landings, the website said. The airport operates on a $4.3 million annual budget.
Although the number of take-offs and landings at the airport has dropped by a third since 2001, according to the airport's website, city officials say the impacts from noise from flight school operations are more disruptive because it is a constant presence in the area.