By Rachel Dovey.
The city of Santa Monica, California (population 92,000) can’t fix that. But according to elected officials and at leastone academic paper, it can regulate pollutants from its small municipal airport, a former military production base surrounded on three sides by residential neighborhoods.
But municipal rule-making is a no-no where city-hopping aircraft are concerned according to the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). It’s a tussle resembling the oil train bans I covered last year, when mayors in Richmond and Oakland forbade the so-called “rolling pipelines” full of Bakken crude within their borders only to be (predictably) bested by the federal Department of Transportation — the agency with final say over countrywide ground transportation.
Unlike that chapter of cities vs. the fed, though, Santa Monica actually has a fighting chance (at least, according to Santa Monica) because of one unique circumstance: It owns the airport. And the two sides generally agree on one thing — if the beachside city is successful, it could set a precedent for municipal governments nationwide.
This isn’t the city’s first declaration of regulatory authority. The Santa Monica Airport, or SMO, sits just 200 feet from some homes. It shares a chain-link fence with a playground. The land around the airport was zoned residential to accommodate Douglas Aircraft Company employees after the manufacturer moved there in 1929.