Voters in Santa Monica will play air traffic controllers in November, as two competing measures regarding the Santa Monica Airport will appear on the ballot.
The Santa Monica City Council this week finalized language for a measure that would give the city more control over the airport - including the ability to close it - though a public vote would be required for any major redevelopment. It will appear on the ballot this way:
Shall the City Charter be amended to: 1) prohibit new development on Airport land, except for parks, public open spaces and public recreational facilities, until the voters approve limits on the uses and development that may occur on the land; and 2) affirm the City Council’s authority to manage the Airport and to close all or part of it.
As the Santa Monica Daily Press reports, that measure will go "head to head" with one supported by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and other proponents of keeping the airport open. Its ballot title:
An initiative measure amending the City Charter to require voter approval in order to close all or part of the Santa Monica Airport, change use of the airport land, or impose new restrictions on fuel sales or use of aviation facilities.
The vote will take place against the backdrop of Santa Monica's ongoing battle with the Federal Aviation Administration for control over the airport's land. After a judge threw out a city lawsuit in February, the City Council approved a plan to continue pursuing control over the airport and look for options for closing it in July of 2015.
Many Santa Monica residents and city officials favor closing the airport or substantially reducing its aviation operations, but some other residents, private jet owners and flight school operators see it as an economic engine.