By Russ Niles
April 11, 2011
While many would accept a U.S. Court of Appeals decision as the final word on most issues, the friction between Santa Monica Airport and its tightly packed neighbors seems to find new ways to flare up. Two months ago the court affirmed the contract between the city of Santa Monica and the FAA which prevents the city from banning any type of “aeronautical use” from SMO because of the grant money it’s accepted from the FAA. The latest wrinkle is an amendment to the FAA Reauthorization bill inserted just before House passage of its version a couple of weeks ago by Rep. Henry Waxman. The amendment would require the FAA to enter “good faith” negotiations with Santa Monica to address safety concerns the city and some residents feel are raised by business jet traffic at the airport. “The amendment I offer today is simple and straightforward,” Waxman is quoted by the Lookout News as saying in his address to the House. “It urges the FAA to continue its discussion with the City of Santa Monica to identify a meaningful solution to address serious safety concerns at the Santa Monica Airport.”
The amendment will have to make it through the Senate/House negotiations on a final form for the reauthorization bill and even then it’s not a certainty. The White House has said it will veto the combined bill if it contains any language restricting union organization or bargaining rights, which are contained in other amendments. Even if the bill survives with the Santa Monica amendment, that won’t be enough for at least one anti-airport group in the city. In a letter to the editor in the Santa Monica Dispatch, Martin Rubin, Director of Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution, called the amendment “weak” and says it fails to address the broad range of concerns about the airport, including environmental impact.