I seldom go to Santa Monica City Council meetings unless I feel my input is important. At past meetings I've found myself waiting several hours to speak on an agenda item. However, on Tuesday, August 23, the item I wanted to comment on was at the beginning of the meeting. I made a special effort to prepare a two-minute comment to the council regarding agenda item 3-B that was about -- you guessed it -- Santa Monica Airport. I had information that I wanted to put on the public record. I knew I had two minutes so I spent several hours drafting a comment that I could deliver comfortably within the two minute time limit and yet would cover the material I felt the council should be aware of.
For well over a decade, I have been asking the City of Santa Monica to do something about air pollution from their private and corporate jet traffic, and although Santa Monica is on record of supporting addressing air pollution from their airport, they seem to treat my efforts as antagonistic. It feels like it’s their way or the highway. That continues to be the case.
Because of a slow computer and printer, I found myself running behind schedule. I planned on being at SM City Hall by 6:20 PM, allowing myself enough time to fill out a speaker card and say hello to my brother Jerry etc. However, I had to rush to arrive at 6:37 PM. That is just seven minutes after the earliest time the Council meeting could start. When I arrived at the table that had the agendas and speaker cards, I noticed another CRAAP member heading from the table to Council Chambers. I filled out my card to speak and entered the council chambers to hand it to the clerk. I noticed my brother Jerry was in the queue to speak on the Consent Calendar items. I felt I arrived just in time as that was the item I wished to speak about. I immediately handed the clerk my speaker card for consent calendar agenda item 3-B. “Analysis and consulting services for air space management effecting Santa Monica Airport and surrounding communities”
This item was asking for another $10,000 on top of the already allocated $65,000 to pay their consulting firm to come up with anything that would keep SMO IFR flights anywhere other than over Santa Monica.
My prepared comment was:
First: Regarding ARSC’s “Analysis and consulting services for air space management affecting Santa Monica Airport and surrounding communities.”
Do the surrounding communities include the SMO neighboring Los Angeles communities, and have you invited interested Los Angeles City officials into this process?
Second: Reinitiating the pre-1990 IFR departure procedure to take the 250 degree turn immediately after departure would significantly reduce the amount of toxic air pollution from jet aircraft during their idling/hold stage as they would not need to wait for clearance from the LAX control tower. A 250 take-off would improve the efficiency of instrument rated departures, reducing delays for users of SMO and LAX by eliminating flight conflicts with departing aircraft from LAX.
Third: The 250 take off would be a safety enhancement as it would provide the necessary lateral separation from SMO IFR piston departures and LAX north airfield departures.
I urge you to include the City of Los Angeles in this process as you move forward.
Furthermore, I urge that you have ARSC place a high priority on reducing air pollution as well as enhancing safety in this analysis of space management at Santa Monica Airport.
Well, as fate would have it, the bell signaling my time was up rang while I was about halfway through the second point above. I asked if my two minutes were up and Mayor Richard Bloom informed me that late requests to speak were allowed just one minute. I let him know I spent several hours to come up with my two-minute comment. He informed me politely that I could give my written statement that I was reading from to the clerk to pass around. I did just that and left the chambers to go home and have dinner.
Basically, I feel that the City of Santa Monica is doing everything it can to assure that aircraft departing their airport do not fly over their city. They have done more in two years on behalf of their residents to fight potential noise impacts to their residents from their airport, than they have done in two decades with regard to TOXIC air pollution impacts from their airport on their Los Angeles neighbors.
Although I surely recognize the need for time restraints at council meetings, I also believe that a certain degree of courtesy is appropriate at times. The Mayor has the prerogative to grant such courtesies. It seems my many years of work to address SMO’s negative impacts on all the surrounding communities did not warrant my being allowed to have another minute to finish my comments. Read them yourself and time it. I did it at home with twenty seconds to spare. Before beginning my comments, I spent a few seconds wishing the Mayor and Council a good evening. If only I knew that I would be limited to one minute, I could have done away with the pleasantries, read it more quickly, and maybe I might have finished it.
I guess I shouldn’t take it personally since I recall when newly elected Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl had his statement halted by then Santa Monica Mayor Pam O’Connor. She abruptly let Bill know Council had to move on, and indeed they did.
Santa Monica Mayors might better understand the power that a little courtesy toward their Los Angeles neighbors at their Council meetings would have. Otherwise their politeness seems somewhat disingenuous.
If you review the video archive of the council meeting, and if you listen closely, you can hear someone say something like, “motion to hear late chits to speak one minute each.” So be it. However, it is the prerogative of the mayor, or any of the council members, to ask that I be allowed to finish my brief comment. The City of Santa Monica blows smoke on their Los Angeles neighbors, and I get the impression they just don’t want to hear about it.
If you would like to review the video, go to: City Council Archives (August 23, 2011).