Detailed Council Deliberations – March 24, 2015


Here is a transcript of Council’s entire deliberations:  Council Deliberations Transcript

The entire one hour discussion ends with the following note of concern from the Mayor:

Mc Keown: We have a motion on the floor and a second, but I want to make sure that the motion is clear to staff. City Attorney can you please clarify for me that you have been taking notes of what we have been discussing and the motion is clear. I’m just trying to make sure that staff is taking down everything that we’ve discussed and if we vote at this point, people will know what we are voting on…

Subsequent to the meeting, it has become clear that in fact there is a great deal of confusion about what exactly Council directed staff to do. In particular the following questions may have different answers depending on who you ask (staff or community):

  • What is the maximum term of leases on the non-aviation parcel? The community thinks Council was clear that these leases can be longer than 3-years if necessary.
  • Do all non-aviation parcel leases have to go to market rate? The community believes the transcript shows that the answer to this question is: not necessarily.
  • Did Council direct staff to end all non-aviation uses of non-aviation land? The community believes the answer to this question is: Yes.
  • Did Council direct staff to begin planning for alternative uses for the two 6-acre tie-down areas on the non-aviation parcel including if possible the development of playing fields within a 3-year period on one area, and the expeditious conversion of the other area to recreational uses (not necessarily final park form) use as fast as possible? The community believes the transcript shows that the answer to this question is: Yes.
  • Did Council direct staff if possible to hire a leasing broker and agent to negotiate and manage all leases at the airport including those currently handled by the master lease holders, so ending all master leases and all sub-leasing? The community believes the transcript shows that the answer to this question is: Yes – if possible.

There is one additional, an very important question that unfortunately was not addressed by Council directly in the transcript. Although Council was quite clear that all leases on the 1948 parcel should move to market rate, they did not pursue the question of if ‘market rate’ is different (i.e., less) for aviation tenants than it is for non-aviation tenants. We believe that it is staff’s position that aviation market rate is less than non-aviation market rate, but we are not clear if Council was simply unaware of this issue, or if by not addressing it, they meant to concur with staff’s position. The community would like to know the answer to this question.

To place the entire Council discussion in context, here are the original staff recommendations:

Staff recommends that the City Council review and comment on future options regarding operation of the Santa Monica Airport (“Airport” or “SMO”) and the City’s future use of its land currently occupied by the Airport and direct staff to:

  1. Continue with a full range of planning, environmental and legal work that would enable the City to determine the future use of the City’s land, including possible closure of all or part of the Airport; such work to include, but not be limited to, pursuing legal resolution of issues relating to control of the land, undertaking preliminary environmental and design work as to both the western parcel and the entire Airport, and assessing the possibility of a City-sponsored 2016 ballot measure;
  2. Continue to implement measures to reduce adverse impacts of Airport operations, through imposing appropriate conditions in leases and any other lawful means;
  3. Continue to promote Airport self-sufficiency to ensure that the Airport is not a drain on the general fund during this period of possible transition, including by: increasing any rents that may not be at market rate; renegotiating for Council approval expired master leases to address subleasing and thereby provide for the City’s receipt of full revenues from the use of City property; and obtaining private assistance with leasing and property management;
    Work to reduce and eliminate aviation uses of the land released from aviation use;
  4. Negotiate and execute new leases with two current non-aviation subtenants (VW-Audi and Milstein), The Museum of Flying, Atlantic Aviation, and Krueger Aviation with lease terms expiring either three years from execution or by June 30, 2018, whichever date is earlier; and
  5. Continue to receive, assess and provide recommendations based on community input on all aspects of Airport operations and use of the land now occupied by the Airport.

What is quite clear from the transcript is that all staff recommendation bullets with the exception of the third and fifth bullets regarding leases were approved. In addition certain other recommendations in the bulk of the staff report (e.g., the idea of a ballot measure in 2016) were rejected or modified. The entire discussion essentially amounted to replacing bullets three and four with new directives.

To bring some clarity to the community, we have taken the liberty of converting the lengthy discussion by Council starting at [04:58:07] into an explicit set of instructions. Because the instructions given were in the context of a hour long discussion in which various Council members made their wishes clear, this translation process of necessity involves bringing those earlier statements in as clarifying context. Any confusion that may exist is likely a result of not referencing back to bring in that context. Here then is CASMAT’s attempt to translate Council’s discussion into a single coherent motion:

  1. Staff is authorized to act on all bullet points in the staff recommendation with the exception of points (3) and (4) as they pertain to lease terms which are superseded by the instructions below.
  2. Staff is directed to treat the airport as 3 separate parcels. All leases on all parcels to incorporate the ‘labor peace’ provisions. Staff was directed to look into the potential of ending all master leases and all sub-leasing by hiring a broker and property manager to handle all the leases directly on behalf of the city for a percentage fee.
  3. On the 1949 quitclaim parcel, all leases are to remain month-to-month at the new market rate at least until such time as the future of that parcel is clarified. In addition item 6(b) below applies on the quitclaim parcel.
  4. On the non-aviation parcel, staff is free to negotiate any lease terms and lengths (including lengths over 3 years) consistent with the needs of the non-aviation tenants on this parcel, and with the City’s long term commitment to support the arts and cultural uses of this land. Lease terms on this parcel (which has been released from aviation use since 1984) do not have to be consistent with those on the aviation parcels.
  5. All aviation uses of the non-aviation parcel are to cease after July 1, 2015. This explicitly includes the two tie-down areas next to the existing airport park. Staff was directed if possible to convert one such area to playing fields within 3 years, and the other to park and/or cultural uses consistent with measure LC, though not necessarily in final form (since the Council has a larger park aspirations for the airport land which might impact that final form).
  6. On the 1948 core aviation parcel, staff was directed as follows:
    • (a) All leases to move to market rate and to be non-discriminatory regarding aviation or non-aviation use. The maximum term of any lease on this parcel shall be 3 years as outlined in staff report, or ending on June 30, 2018, whichever comes first.
    • (b) All leases are to contain clauses clarifying the fact that aviation services may be removed or closed during the period of the lease, and giving the right to early termination should the City’s rights to the underlying land and obligatory aviation services be clarified, and should the City then decide to take that land or service out of aviation use.

4 thoughts on “Detailed Council Deliberations – March 24, 2015

  1. Kathleen Haase

    It seems we might be moving closer towards closing the Santa Monica Airport to jet traffic. Is this true?

    It has been unbearable – we can’t take it any more. TOO MANY JETS LANDING AT SANTA MONICA AIRPORT!!! The quality of life in the 90064 has steeply decreased in the last couple of years due to the increase in the number of jets flying in and out of this airport. It’s KILLING me, literally. And I”m not going to be silent any longer.

    1. Alan Levenson

      At around 4:53:40 of the council meeting Mayor McKeowm says” So it may make sense for us to go ahead and do the leases there under the understanding that that will leave us with two FBO’s there, which we’re required to have two or none – and none could be a problem..” He brings up the point that according to the agreements in place we do not need to lease to any jet operators at SMO. This approach would certainly help to reduce JET traffic. This approach needs serious consideration and should not be glossed over and called a problem. The BiG problem is the JETS. They are The BIGGEST problem to the health and safety of the neighbors. The JET problem must be dealt with immediately after JuLY 1. The JETS have become unbearable and whatever problem it causes us to reduce them is a problem worth dealing with.

      1. Ben

        So if the City is “required to have two or none” FBOs, why isn’t the “none” option being considered? And what might be the potential problems exactly? Anyone know???