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Wed, Oct 19, 2011

Santa Monica NIMBYs Protest

Residents Exploit Leaded Fuel Issue As Part Of Closure Campaign

Residents of Santa Monica, California and two other nearby communities gathered to protest over the weekend, calling for the closure of the Santa Monica Airport and blaming aircraft operations for noise, pollution and compromised safety in their neighborhoods. The Santa Monica Daily Press reports that protesters from West Los Angeles and Venice joined locals to picket on the sidewalks at the intersection of National Boulevard and Bundy Drive Sunday.

The signs held messages including "Fly Clean or Don't Fly" and "Santa Monica: No on cigarettes, soft on jet pollution," and the paper reports extra signs were prepared in advance for passers-by who wished to join the protest. But some of the comments of individual participants suggested the real issue is noise, despite quieter planes and declining operations in recent years.

Roger Allen of Sunset Park told the paper, "We want to be able to sit outside and relax, or sleep in on the weekends." Allen says he's lived in his home for about 15 years. The airport has been there since 1919.

There was also mention of the leaded avgas used by piston aircraft, which has been an issue widely publicized by environmental activists in California lately.

On Saturday night, a group calling itself Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution held a rally in West Los Angeles, which was to have featured tour stops by John Stewart and Dan Glass, two activists associated with a protest group in the UK called Plane Stupid. But British media report that Glass was unable to get a visa to travel, and Stewart was intercepted by the FBI in New York and sent back home.

Glass became famous for attempting to attach himself to Prime Minister Gordon Brown using superglue smuggled in his underwear during a protest in 2008. And, yes - Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution does use the acronym CRAAP.

The Daily Press reports protesters are being galvanized by the approach of the year 2015, when they believe any grant assurances to the FAA forcing local communities to keep the airport open will expire. The FAA says the actual date falls in 2023, but that the Santa Monica Airport must remain an airport "in perpetuity."

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