Santa Monica Airport was a popular subject among candidates vying for seats on the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC) on Thursday night.
The council held an elections candidate forum at St. Bede’s Episcopal Church in Mar Vista, giving candidates two minutes each to speak on community issues important to them.
Patricia Peterson—one of three candidates for Mar Vista's Zone 6, the area that runs east from the airport to Washington Boulevard—was alone in her support of maintaining the Santa Monica Airport.
She cited a Rand Corporation study that recommended bringing in alternative fuels, electric planes and erecting sound barriers to eliminate pollution and noise there, she said. Peterson was also optimistic about future development of the airport grounds that could expand recreational amenities there, she said.
"We can capitalize in Mar Vista upon the things that Santa Monica offers because we are a very close neighbor of theirs," said Peterson. "They're going to bring in an arts-and-crafts environment, and a green museum, and various things that we can point people to that we're a part of if we take part in having a voice in what they're going to do in that airport."
Much of the Mar Vista neighborhood borders the eastern section of the airport at Bundy Drive, which is also the portion of runway where pilots make their landing approach. This section of the airport does the most to pollute adjacent neighborhoods with noise and engine particulate, said John Kuchta, who is running against Susan Klos for the community director seat.
"We do need to close the airport, because that's the only way to solve all the problems," said Kuchta. "There's no way to somehow mitigate the noise—unless you cut it down to one flight a day, but that would not sustain an airport. The only real way to eliminate the noise and the pollution—and to make it safer—is to shut it down."
The key to shutting down the airport, Kuchta said, is by getting federal officials to battle it in congress.
"If the FAA—which is, let's be honest, a little bit more powerful than Santa Monica Airport—wants to keep it open, it doesn't matter what Santa Monica does, they'll find a way to keep it open."
Two of the 17 candidates—Kate Anderson (Zone 3) and Mitchell Rishe (At-Large Director)—were not in attendance. Rishe drew support from candidate Chuck Ray (At-Large Director), who mentioned him in his speech, and Sherri Akers, Green Committee co-chair, who wore Rishe's campaign button.
Ray has been criticized for his candidate statement on Patch, in which he wrote that he hopes to be the voice of reason in what city hall could perceive as an extremist MVCC.
"What I meant by that was … I learned a lot about how the councilmen think and how the staff think," said Ray. "Two things that turn them on: money and votes."
Neighborhood councils can't raise money, said Ray, they only get what the city gives them.
"So we have to somehow show that we've got power of the people," said Ray. "But when we do go down there and try to be reasonable with them, they look for every reason to marginalize us and not listen."
Ray said that the MVCC has been called extreme by city hall, so it has got to appear to be reasonable by proving an understanding the pros and cons of various issues, he said.
"If we do that," said Ray. "It becomes more difficult for them to blow us away."
Elections will be held on Oct. 28 at the Mar Vista Farmers Market, located at 3865 Grand View Blvd., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
For a list of all candidates, visit the Empower L.A. website.