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Officials Call Again For Santa Monica Airport's Closure

SANTA MONICA ( — Local elected officials are calling again for Santa Monica Airport to be shut down as soon as July 2018.

Santa Monica City Council voted unanimously on a resolution calling for the closure of its airport as soon as legally permitted, with the goal of shutting down the facility on or before July 1, 2018. The council also directed the city manager to take preemptive measures to reduce any adverse environmental impacts of the airport until operations permanently cease.

The resolution noted the airport is a regular source of noise and air pollution, and is a safety hazard as well. The airport has been the site of several plane crashes, including one involving actor Harrison Ford and another that killed two people, prompting a previous call in 2013 for the airport to shut down.

"Through our unanimous vote, the council demonstrated our commitment to stop the harmful impacts the airport has on our community. Transitioning our land into a 'great-park' is the single most transformative action this council can take," Mayor Tony Vazquez said. "The land needs to be transformed from a source of pollution and potential danger into a community asset."

The council is working toward converting the land into a park under Measure LC, a ballot measure Santa Monica voters approved in 2014.

"Our council and community in solidarity want to close the airport that predominantly caters to the 1 percent that can afford to travel by private jet. We have directed the city manager to take every step possible to expedite the transformation of our land from airport to park," said Mayor Pro Tem Ted Winterer.

The measures the city manager is authorized to implement include petitioning the Federal Aviation Administration to remove the far west segment of the runway from aviation use. This would shrink the runway by 2,000 feet and consequently reduce the adverse impacts of the airport, according to a statement from the council.

The council also adopted a Fixed Based Operations policy for the city manager to implement to replace private aircraft support services with services provided by the city, by Dec. 31 at the latest. Currently, aeronautical services, such as fuel and aircraft storage, are provided by two private companies.

"This change, allowed under FAA regulations, would significantly diminish the incentive for private companies to market their services to corporate and personal jet traffic," the statement said.

The effort to shutter the airport gained steam after actor Harrison Ford, flying out of the airport, experienced engine trouble and crash-landed his World War II-era light plane at Penmar Golf Course in Venice in March 2015. He was injured but has since recovered.

The FAA ruled last December that the airport must stay open at least until 2023. Santa Monica elected officials and anti-airport activists countered that the airport could be closed earlier because all obligations to the federal government have expired. But the FAA said provisions of a $240,600 federal improvement grant received by the city in 2003 require that the general aviation hub remain open 20 years after accepting the money.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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