What’s the future of the Santa Monica Airport?

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Photo from @NoJetsSMO

For months, “No Jets” signs have been cropping up in the front lawns of homes all around Santa Monica. It’s the visual cue for one side of a legal battle that’s raging.

City leaders and some homeowners who complain of noise, pollution and unsafe conditions want the Santa Monica Airport closed by July of next year. The Federal Aviation Administration has said “no way.”

Last week, airport tenants, aviation groups and pilots, including actor Harrison Ford, filed a complaint with the FAA claiming that the airport must remain until at least 2023, as a condition of a federal grant it received to improve the facility.

Some residents want the 227 acres turned into a park. Frank Gruber, founder of Airport2Park, told KCRW’s “Which Way LA?” that the land is a “two billion asset” that belongs to the residents.

“Airports are being turned into parks all over the world and this could be a fantastic park, more than doubling Santa Monica’s park system, which is vastly undersized,” Gruber said.

John Jerabek, a board member of the Santa Monica Airport Association, disagreed. His group circulated a petition for a ballot measure and signatures are currently being validated by the LA County Registrar. The outcome is expected to be announced this month.

Jerabek said that closing the airport was a regional concern economically and development-wise, and not just an issue for Santa Monica voters. The noise pollution complaints of homeowners is overblown, he said.

“Listen if you purchase a house deliberately close to an airport because you could get it at a lower price,” Jerabek told KCRW, “and then you spend the next years … complaining about it so you can get a bump in the value your property, than who is really being selfish here?”

Santa Monica City Council is considering competing measures over what to do with the airport.