Back to Squawk list
  • 35

City Council Votes To Close Santa Monica Airport

The City Council of Santa Monica has voted to begin the process of closing Santa Monica Municipal Airport (KSMO). The vote, which occurred January 24, was greenlit by an agreement made in 2017 between the FAA and city officials allowing the closure to happen. According to the FAA, the 2017 agreement “requires the city to maintain continuous and stable operation of the airport for 12 years, until December 31, 2028, and after that the city has the right to close the airport.” The agreement also… ( More...

Sort type: [Top] [Newest]

blueashflyer 48
May the fleas of a thousand camels infest the pants of the Santa Monica Council
Derek Morris 7
Ah! Another fan of Johnny Carson. I use this occasionally and I am quite happy to see it here regarding KSMO.
Michael Stansfield 35
I am going to take a wild swing at this. The city will get more tax dollars per square foot of dirt with houses, apartments, or businesses occupying the ground that the airport currently built upon.
sparkie624 4
that would have been my first guess... But no.. According to the Article they are going to convert it into into public use: "city council to approve the development of parks, public open spaces, and public recreational facilities. Real estate development is prohibited on airport land unless approved by voters." as stated in the article.
golflaw 28
Heard same story when city of Blue Ash in Cincinnati closed Blue Ash airport a dozen years ago. For 2 years it was only a “park” with walking trail around the runway and taxiways. Fast Forward a few years, 3 big restaurants, huge condo developments, million dollar houses and more to come.
Jay Cee 5
With California's extensive and conflicting zoning laws, it will take many years for the vultures to actually enjoy the results of their perfidy. There is an airport south of Santa Monica that closed a few years ago. I am pretty sure they still have not successfully developed that land.
Jay Cee 4
Public use changes will still tend to drive up the value of the other nearby homes and properties allowing for increased property tax dollars when they change hands. They can't raise taxes on a home until it sells in California due to Proposition 13.
avionik99 0
All those fancy words are city council's way of saying it will be turned over to the homeless!
Put away your Ouija board, you are cheating. Plus, any crystal ball would know that.....
btweston 0
Probably not.
williamsmr 33
Too Bad, I flew our G450 in an out from Dallas for some of our businesses located in Santa Monica, two blocks away from one of them, a $10B Company. Then they shortened the runway so that left me flying in my Cessna CJ4. We will be relocating these businesses over the net two years to Dallas and let Santa Monica figure out how to cover for the loss in business and property taxes. Santa Monica has gone into the black hole on business creation and sustainment. Neither any on the council are qualified to fathom.
Patty Vanoy 1
Sorry, meant upvote, thumb not working correctly. IDK how to change this, so help please!
panam1971 13
Someone needs to fly a 727-200 or a DC9-14 in there and show these people what real aircraft noise sounds like.
John Taylor 9
An F-15 with both afterburners lit.
srobak 6
A Harrier conducting VTOL drills would wake up the neighbors :)
Alan Glover 2
And fully armed....oops!
David Rice 11
Yes, a huge loss for GA on the CA coast. Also note that the city of Santa Monica took federal dollars in exchange for agreeing to keep KSMO open. Starry eyed politicians taking advantage of both sides of a coin. I'm sure their constituents don't care about past commitments either. What a shameful decision. Should we fly at the VFR minimum over Santa Monica now just to be sure they still get their share of noise? Ha!
John Taylor 4
I can't imagine the cost of fuel in California. People can hardly afford to fill their cars. It must be an expensive hobby to do in California. A shame too because there is so much scenic beauty there but the leftists will be leftists.
Max Lang 3
Yet traffic remains the same or worse.
James Simms 0
I’ve read in the past, airlines headed for the Peoples Democratic Socialist Republic of Kalifornia (PDSRofK) destinations top off their fuel tanks before heading out; just to avoid as much as possible the insanely high fuel prices there.
John Rogers 1
If only I lived in California...
captainfourbars 21
In one sense, that is the beauty of democracy. However, closing airports, as was uprooting the railroads is a one-way-street (no pun intended!). Many of us, our children and certainly our grandchildren will deeply regret it. Aircraft are getting quieter and cleaner at a rate of knots but that isn't taken into account by the myopic complainers. As for being turned into a green space, just wait and see how long THAT lasts.
CactusDave 9
Terrible loss.
srobak 9
From the article:

"[...] neighborhood groups sprang up in opposition to the airport, arguing that the airport [...] was too close to residential neighborhoods"

This is a factually incorrect statement. Residential neighborhoods were too close to the airport. There is a distinct difference - and it is one that has plagued damn near every airfield in existence.

In short - if you don't like planes then DO NOT build or move next to an airport.

Rocket science, I know.
WhiteKnight77 6
I saw the same thing back in the 80s after a developer built a "luxury" housing development and golf course next to PHF on former dairy land. The airport wanted to expand and build maintenance hangers on the far side of 7/25 and those who lived in said development howled about possible noise increases. Sorry, that airport existed for 40 years before your house was built. They have just as much right to expand and bring other businesses in to be a productive part of the city. Don't want to live near a noisy airport? Don't move in to begin with. If you do, you cannot complain about any noise.

Businesses that offer aggressor type training for both the Air Force and Navy are based at said airport, so PHF still provides a military capacity that dates back to WWII with Camp Patrick Henry.
Mike Mohle 5
We have the same problem here at KSDL. People on the "Phoenix" side of the departure path have actually asked at town halls: "why can't the airplanes take off the other direction?" Rocket science indeed.
WhiteKnight77 4
I saw the same thing back in the 80s after a developer built a "luxury" housing development and golf course next to PHF on former dairy land. The airport wanted to expand and build maintenance hangers on the far side of 7/25 and those who lived in said development howled about possible noise increases. Sorry, that airport existed for 40 years before your house was built. They have just as much right to expand and bring other businesses in to be a productive part of the city. Don't want to live near a noisy airport? Don't move in to begin with. If you do, you cannot complain about any noise.
James Simms 1
Kalifornians & NIMBY’s aren’t noted for their intellectual capacity or reasoning.
Alan Glover 0
...or care for anyone but themselves...even though their decisions often impact THEM negatively!
mustangjosh350 25
The airport has so much potential for the airport itself and the surrounding areas along with making even more money. But the city and Nimbys don’t think that.

The Nimbys want a “park”, which if you visit basically any park in the city of Santa Monica is filled with homeless, drug addicts, and mentally unstable individuals. So that wouldn’t make any sense to put in another park for them to occupy. Also a lot of people in the community don’t want to visit the parks because of that reason.
John Taylor 7
They gotta find some place to warehouse them. Easier than fixing the problem.
Ken Lane 17
Scumbags! All they see is a massive amount of property tax revenue for buying votes and nothing more.
Don Jones 4
Billy Koskie 67
Just another reason to leave California.
Chris Muncy 6
GOing to create another account to upvote this one again!
Patty Vanoy 1
Thx a bunch!

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

John Rogers 0
STFU dumbass
Thomas Brown 14
They should be required to find the descendants of the families that donated land to form this airport and gift that property back to them. Cut the worthless developer councilmen out of the profit picture. I'm sure they'll make a 'park' out of a small corner of it, then people will vote to turn it into apartments.
James Patterson 7
" most of the residents in the city did not want it in their neighborhood."

I used to live in Santa Monica. Most of the residents moved into the airport's neighborhood. It was there long before they were, and they moved there anyway. Most likely with a discount because of the proximity to an airport.
EMK69 13
Sad, Bob Hope once did a comedy routine there sending off the Marines going into WWII. RIP SMO many of remember to good ole days of T&G into your field.
Elizabeth Lester 6
I think it's wasteful to dismantle any existing infrastructure. Once it's gone, it's gone forever. Small GA airports might come in handy in some type of emergency, such as staging for firefighting, or even for an emergency landing. It's also a last bit of open space in congested SoCal. I'm curious why the FAA agreed to allow such a closure in the first place.
bobinson66 3
Up in the SF Bay Area, cities that don't want GA airfields that can't fight the FAA have gone around the federal government by banning leaded aviation fuel. If GA aircraft owners want to keep their planes parked nearby, that's fine but you better park it with a half tank of fuel so you can fly to the central valley to fill up. I don't know what ratio of GA planes require leaded gas but this purposefully overburdensome government regulation is having an effect. Some airfields have half as many planes parked as they used to.
Nick Daffern 5
My Dad kept his plane at SMO and I have many childhood memories going flying with him. I used to ride my bike from Brentwood on weekends to hang out at the fuel pit and then I'd ride around the airport looking for airplanes to wash in exchange for a ride. Later, it's where I soloed.

It's sad to see a place with so much history treated so badly. After WW2, aviation was affordable for young vets like my Dad and So Cal used to have a lot of small GA airports. Unfortunately, they're all going away thanks to changing demographics and greedy local governments.

I guess it's called progress but it sure doesn't feel like it.
D Kaufman 4
They're trying to close down the San Jose (Silicon Valley) airport as well. One good thing is the new mayor is against closing it so maybe it'll survive.
Gene Joy 4
More evidence of the dumbing of humanity. Wasn't the airport there when the 'residents' bought their houses? Didn't they KNOW there would be noise? Make the dummies who are complaining sell. The airport had 'firsties' so those childlike mentalities have to play elsewhere!
Gary Stemen 4
Just a start... Which is next for closure?? Burbank?? The need exists for smaller venues and for commuters who want to avoid LAX.... I have used smaller venues for business trips as it made sense to get me nearer the destination point. Speed is not always the driver in decision making...
Robert Piper 4
Lets condemn the golf courses as well.
Max Lang 1
Thankfully, Penmar is not in Santa Monica
Tom MacKinnon 4
It makes me sad that another small GA airport is closing. I cannot even count how many have closed in the past 50 years since I took my first lesson at Totowa Wayne airport in NJ. The young kids who look up at the sky during an air show, and think "i want to do that someday" will have trouble finding a place to start that deam...
Whatever the reason or the politics, this is a heartbreaker. SMO was my home airport for several years. I fell in love.
Leander Williams 3
I think this letter was the final nail in the coffin.
ragic Flight School Crash Reminder of Danger Posed by Airport

September 16, 2022
Open letter to the Santa Monica City Council and city officials:

The tragic deaths of a trainee pilot and an instructor at Santa Monica Airport on September 8 are a salutary reminder of the danger we all live with due to the continued operation of the airport before its planned closure in 2029 ("Two Killed in Plane Crash at Santa Monica Airport," September 9, 2022).

We grieve for the two lives lost in this accident, as well as for those in previous accidents at, or connected with, this airport. We're also keenly aware of the danger presented to our health, our homes, and our lives by this airport, whether due to accidents or toxic emissions.

Nestled among houses, apartments, schools, preschools, play fields, parks, and a large business park, one thing this airport should absolutely not be used for is flying lessons.

Among the more than 100 accidents since 1982 connected with Santa Monica Airport (SMO), 28 have involved student pilots (two in 1982, two in 1984, 1985, 1986, three in 1987, four in 1989, three in 1992, 1993, 1994, 1998, 2004, 2008, two in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2021, and now 2022).

Student pilots from SMO have done the following:

lost control on the 3rd of 3 landings at SMO due to excessive approach speed;
misread the airport windsocks and landed in the wrong direction (with a tail wind, rather than into the wind);
overran the runway;
not noticed that the plane's engine had overheated, resulting in vapor lock and partial loss of power;
glided into SMO with the landing gear retracted after loss of power in both engines, running out of fuel due to the instructor’s miscalculations;
struck electrical wires and a traffic light pole before ending up on Rose Avenue in Venice due to an engine malfunction while practicing touch-and-go landings at SMO;
crashed into a house at 21st and Navy;
crashed into the carport of an apartment building on 4th St. near Bay Street (3 fatalities);
performed a solo flight, unauthorized by the flight instructor, resulting in an emergency landing;
crashed into the ocean off Malibu (the instructor died as a result);
flown erratically 10 to 50 feet above the beach in Malibu, then cleared an apartment complex by about 10 feet before crashing into a hillside; and
collided with another aircraft midair.
It seems that more than 50 percent of operations at the airport are training related, so it’s not surprising: there are more than 180 landings and take-offs a day at SMO, the vast majority of them by piston engine planes which, in addition to the dangers of crashes, use “leaded” aviation fuel (Avgas), creating a daily onslaught of toxic emissions.

According to the EPA, piston aircraft operating on leaded fuel are the largest remaining source of lead emissions into the air in the U.S., as every gallon of Avgas contains 2 grams of lead. As of a few years ago, aircraft purchasing leaded Avgas at SMO were emitting about 1,000 pounds of lead per year.

Then there is noise pollution, not just from piston engine planes but also from more than 600 monthly landings and take-offs by helicopters, turbo-props, and luxury corporate jets. The jets use kerosene-based Jet A fuel, which adds to the air pollution with black carbon and ultra-fine particles that can penetrate deep into the lungs and bloodstream.

This all adds up to more than 5,500 landings and takeoffs per month, or an average of about 13 per hour between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m.

According to the Annual Noise Report, there were 67,986 landings and takeoffs at Santa Monica Airport in 2021.

In conclusion, the City of Santa Monica should 1) stop leasing its storage tanks to companies that sell aviation fuel at SMO, and 2) explore ways to discourage the use of the airport for training.

Just as important, after Santa Monica voters overwhelmingly approved Measure LC in 2014, it should spell out its proposals for turning the airport into a park, to give local residents confidence that there is an end in sight to the continued danger and environmental damage done by Santa Monica Airport.


Brian Bland, Dr. Charles Blum, Neil Carrey, Jane Dempsey, Caroline Denyer, Peter Donald, Charles R. Donaldson, John Fairweather, Ofer Grossman, Ping Ho, Zina Josephs, Kathy Knight, Nikki Kolhoff, Cathy Larson, Jeanne Laurie, Colin Maduzia, Ellen Mark, Alex Novakovich, John Reynolds, Lloyd Saunders, Gavin Scott and Clare Thomas

Businesses that were nearby and depended on the airport for bringing employees, customers, and investors through Santa Monica Airport are already pulling out of town and moving to other cities with airports and property nearby for their businesses. I suspect a lot of the pilots and plane owners with be moving down the 405 to Hawthorne Airport.
Robert Piper 3
Lets condemn the golf courses as well. So city gets more revenue, City spends more revenue, More houses, more development, Property values and property tax's go up, and the same people who complained have to move because they cant afford the taxes. Where they going? out to the country where there is another county airport.
Jay Cee 3
Harrison Ford hardest hit!
Juan del azar 6
This is all about the City's desperate attempts to fund its massively underfunded and overpaid pensions. Simply building new homes and getting a lot of property taxes. Greed and corruption. The airport is a very valuable resource and also creates a large people buffer. Thousands more properties will make the city and builders happy but will be a nightmare on noise and pollution. An average of 2.5 cars per home, and construction will make that area hell for MANY years. Claiming pollution from about 100 small planes movements when you are next to the 10 & 405 Freeways and on the airlines downwind entry path to LAX is simply ridiculous. Don't be fooled by the City.
Sam Hobbs 2
I am not a pilot but I am curious. Other than LAX, what are the closest airports for planes currently using Santa Monica Airport? I see there is Long Beach Airport. To the North is Burbank, Van Nuys and Whiteman Airports, quite a drive away from the basin.
Jay Cee 4
Hawthorn is just SE of LAX and has a 4900 foot runway.
Lester Backus 2
Do not forget about Torrance(TOA). Only about 5 miles South of Hawthorne.
sparkie624 4
This is a real shame... Sounds like another airport bit the dust for no real good reason.
Jim Quinn 5
The land is wanted for development, I'm sure.
Cramllegna 3
Santa Monic has become a dangerous cesspool. Politicians have screwed this town for decades and it's now unrecognizable as the beautiful beachside haven it once was. We stopped using SMO a long time ago as have many others.
uapilot 3
Finally Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden will be ecstatic as they tried long ago to close it down to built “affordable housing” on its site!
John Day 3
So what will be the final flight, departure or arrival?
Since it’s CA. I’m guessing an over sold departure.

Hay city council members. This might be a good time to invest in your infrastructure. Gather up the homeless and send them to Washington DC as good will ambassadors for your fine city. A great final flight.
My father had his Citation at MIGS.....oddly, seems this is a Democrap thing to do....In retaliation, he "laid off" about 40,000 direct employees and moved his production to India and Iowa...Right to work states. Travel was part of his job (in his business jet). Complicate the travel and the business will move (and move the FTE's in general to Right to Work States).
Jon Adams 3
Yeah, darned INDIA. Right to work state %^) Perhaps a bit overreaching, huh?
Dave Underwood 2
Pretty doubtful that the land developers are Democrats, RECOR. Follow the money and spell G-R-E-E-D while you're at it.
21voyageur 2
I catch an aroma of BS in your post. Perhaps wrong but just saying.
Jon Adams 1
Yeah, darned INDIA. Right to work state %^) Perhaps a bit extravagant, huh?
srobak 1
he very clearly meant Indiana
Dennis Stockton 2
Next closure: John Wayne Airport. Because he appeared in racially insensitive movies.
John Barrer 1
I've been flying for 45 years and I've seen many airports swallowed up by development, including the little mom-and-pop airport where I learned to fly ( Dallas North airport, where the C152 cost $12/hr wet). People want to live and work near airports for the same reason that airports are located where they are; they were built near cities but far enough away to provide open space. The world's population is doubling about every 40 years. That leads to loss of airports, loss of habitat for nature, and pollution. People freak out when you talk about population control, even in China, but unless we come up with a rational way to curb population growth, loss of airports will be the least of our problems. RIP SMO.
Mike Mohle 1
Where are all the based airplanes going to go?
Ric Wernicke 7
Well, at first up in the air.
Leander Williams 2
Hawthorne Airport is only about 10 minutes South of Santa Monica. I don't know if they have the capability to integrate a high number of aircraft into their field. They may not have much hangar space to accommodate the number of aircraft that may want to be based there.
coinflyer 1
6 miles is a bit close to a monster hub like LAX... They should keep a piece of it open for choppers and VTOL aircraft though. I also suspect that the increased power available to electric aircraft by 2028 and beyond will obviate the need for a strip longer than 3500'.
Jon Adams 6
Hawthorne (KHHR) is less than 3 mi from KLAX runways 25L&R, and parallel. However, it's in a fairly low-income part of LA, and prolly more importantly, the home of SpaceX.
Arthur01 13
Increased power to electric aircraft? From where? The technology to support that doesn't exist yet. California can't even keep people's lights on without brown outs. Maybe the unicorns will carry in electricity over the rainbows.
Dave Underwood 8
That electric power will come from the wall outlet, of course. Yeah, from "the wall", right? You are spot on correct that hard facts get conveniently and intentionally overlooked when it comes to electric-powered transport. But don't just blame the "unicorns". Plenty of big corporations, auto makers, government officials, all the rest, ignoring how an all-electric transportation infrastructure could ever really work.
Steve Horn 1
You sound like that guy at Kitty Hawk…”as if these things will ever fly across the whole state…”
arfadaily 7
But then a new one will be needed a few miles away to land and re-charge ...
James Simms 0
People Democratic Socialist Republic of Kalifornia (PDSRofK) morons strike once again. If you’re employed there, well that’s just ‘too bad’.
Gloria Johns 1
Please find another forum. Geez!


Don't have an account? Register now (free) for customized features, flight alerts, and more!
Did you know that FlightAware flight tracking is supported by advertising?
You can help us keep FlightAware free by allowing ads from We work hard to keep our advertising relevant and unobtrusive to create a great experience. It's quick and easy to whitelist ads on FlightAware or please consider our premium accounts.