Jul 30, 2014
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Detested Plan to Divert Noisy Flights Ditched

City manager reacts to "fears and perceptions" about the proposal.

Detested Plan to Divert Noisy Flights Ditched

Santa Monica's unpopular—and expensive— is off the table, City Manager Rod Gould announced Tuesday night.

"Public fears and perceptions have escalated to the point that it is impossible to imagine that this test would be able to receive fair and objective evaluation," he told the Santa Monica City Council.

In response to longstanding complaints from Santa Monica and Venice residents about aircraft noise, the proposal was to pay flight schools based at the to divert repetitive takeoffs and landings by pilots-in-training to other municipal airports.

Flight schools would receive $150 for each flight that resulted in a minimum of four takeoffs and four landings conducted at other airports on weekends and holidays during a six-month testing period. The total cost to Santa Monica taxpayers was to be about $90,000.

Gould called it a "creative response to community wishes."

"The experiment was intended to reduce patterned flying above and around Santa Monica and our neighboring cities and with little impact on surrounding airports," he told the City Council.

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But it was met with opposition from Santa Monica residents and neighboring communities.

Torrance Mayor Frank Scotto told the Daily Breeze that Santa Monica, in effect, was attempting to export its noise complaints.

"We're extremely displeased they are going down this path," he told the newspaper. "If there's an increase in traffic to Torrance Airport [as a result] we're going to figure out a way to restrict it," he said.

The process chafed residents and community leaders, too.

Martin Rubin, head of Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution, said it was ironic that Santa Monica City Manager Rod Gould said the proposal wouldn't get an impartial review. The City Council was ready to fast-track approval in early June by bundling it with other agenda items that would have been approved in a single vote.

"This whole fiasco started with [flight schools] and Santa Monica staff—without any vetting of the details in their effort to hastily and secretively get it through on their consent calendar," Rubin said.

The fact that the plan was tabled indefinitely at the last-minute Tuesday night upset leaders in Torrance, who were en route to Santa Monica to voice their objections. The proposal was on the night's agenda, and the council had previously indicated that it would vote to approve it.

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"After the Torrance City Council meeting, Councilmen [Tom] Brewer and [Cliff] Numark drove off the Santa Monica to attend the council meeting," John Bailey, president Southeast Torrance Homeowners’ Association, Inc. wrote in an email. "I sent out an email last night after the 'slick maneuver' which ended up on their cell phones so they turned back to Torrance."

Rubin said he was pleased that city officials opted to heed community concerns.

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