NOTE: We likely won’t know until June 10th if this project makes any significant changes to SMO flight paths, however, we are posting this information here early to let you know that we may need to mobilize people to attend on June 17th if it does.
Date: June 4, 2015
To: Mayor and City Council
From: Susan Cline, Interim Director of Public Works
Subject: Federal Aviation Administration Southern California Metroplex Public Workshops and Status Update
This information item provides an update on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) project to improve the efficiency of air transportation in Southern California called Southern California Metroplex (SoCal Metroplex). According to the FAA, the SoCal Metroplex project’s main objective is to provide more efficient and direct routes for aircraft to reach their destinations, improving airspace efficiency, and reducing fuel consumption, air emissions and travel time.
Staff has been monitoring the FAA’s progress of the SoCal Metroplex project since the FAA tested from December 2009 to June 2010 the new departure heading (the 250 degree heading), which routed departing aircraft over Ocean Park, rather than directly to the coastline. At the time, the FAA explained that an adjustment in the departure heading was required to decouple LAX and SMO departure paths over the ocean. Many City residents protested against the 250 degree heading test, and staff argued against it on the community’s behalf. The FAA said, at the time, that it would defer action and address the issue later as part of the SoCal Metroplex project.
Staff has met with local FAA representatives several times in the last year. Earlier this year, FAA representatives stated that SoCal Metroplex proposals relating to procedures at SMO were not yet fully developed. FAA representatives stated that they anticipated providing details at the start of the FAA’s Environmental Assessment (EA) process. There will be a number of community meetings after the draft EA is released on June 10, 2015. Staff requested that at least one of the meetings be held in Santa Monica so community members will have the opportunity to hear directly from FAA representatives and to voice concerns directly to them.
Staff received notification from the FAA that it intends to publish the Draft EA for the SoCal Metroplex on June 10, 2015. The Draft EA will document the FAA’s analysis related to potential environmental impacts of the FAA’s implementation of its program to optimize airspace usage in the SoCal Metroplex, which is a geographic area including multiple airports serving major metropolitan areas from Santa Barbara to San Diego.
The project’s goal is to improve efficiency of the airspace by optimizing aircraft arrival and departure procedures at a number of Southern California airports, including SMO. The SoCal Metroplex project involves changing aircraft flight paths and/or altitudes in certain areas. It provides for new flight procedures that are more precise and creates a narrower flight path resulting in a concentration of flights over certain areas. According to the FAA, some residents in areas under the concentrated flight path may experience more noise.
The EA process provides for public workshops starting on June 16, 2015 and concluding on July 1, 2015. Per the request of Santa Monica City staff, the FAA has scheduled one of the public workshops in Santa Monica. This workshop is scheduled for June 17, 2015 at Santa Monica Main Public Library Multipurpose Room from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The purpose of these public workshops is to provide an opportunity for the public to learn about the SoCal Metroplex project and to submit their comments. Representatives from the FAA will be available during the workshop to provide information about the project.
The City is not a sponsor of this project and has not been involved in identifying or evaluating changes to flight procedures. Staff continues to reiterate the Santa Monica’s opposition to any modifications that would change headings on takeoff from the current heading, by which aircraft fly directly to the coast, rather than over Santa Monica’s hills and more residences.
The SoCal Metroplex Draft EA is scheduled for release on June 10, 2015 and will be available for review at the following website: http://www.metroplexenvironmental.com/socal_metroplex/socal_introduction.html
For additional information or comment about the Draft EA please contact the FAA directly at the following address:
SoCal Metroplex EA
FAA, Western Service Center – Operations Support Group
1601 Lind Avenue SW
Renton, WA 98057
Staff will outreach to local community groups and encourage them to attend the public workshop. Additionally, links to the Metroplex website will be provided on the Airport’s website.
Prepared By: Stelios Makrides, Airport Manager
Attachment A – Environmental Assessment Southern California Metroplex Status Update Letter