“Amazing Historic” Day for Santa Monica as City Begins Outreach for Airport Park

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Hundreds of Santa Monica residents, and a handful of folks from the neighboring Los Angeles community of Mar Vista, converged on Clover Park to give feedback as the city kicked off its public process on what should be done with the land that is currently Santa Monica Airport. The advocacy group Airport2Park didn’t mince words when celebrating the event on Twitter/X, “What an AMAZING historic day for the hundreds of people who turned out to help give input on the future Great Park to replace Santa Monica Airport when it closes in 2028.”

If you missed yesterday’s events, you can still take the survey, here. Of you can use this QR code from one of yesterday’s posters.

After decades of advocacy, the city won its legal battle with the federal government and can close the airport on January 1, 2029. The airport takes up 227 acres of public land, roughly 5% of the size of the entire city. Combined with existing sports fields and adjacent Clover Park, a future airport park could be ⅓ the size of Central Park in New York.

Ballot initiatives require that the city can only use the land for recreation and educational purposes without a new vote of the citizens. So most of the discussion yesterday wasn’t whether or not to close the airport (most wanted it closed) or whether the city should build a park (most want a park); but instead what kind of park and how can it be paid for?

This map included cutouts of many famous LA County landmarks to give an idea of how much space is available at the airport.

Yesterday, city staff and members of the outreach team stood behind tables with displays and activities intended to get participants to think creatively about the potential uses for the space. Volunteers with Airport 2 Park mingled serving as a sort-of second outreach team encouraging participant to fill out cards calling for the city to move forward with plans for a giant park. There were not microphones and podiums to amplify the loudest voices, but instead every participant was given an equal voice on comment cards.

While there was little sign of opposition, a stray comment card here or there did say that the airport should remain open, the debate has changed to HOW should the city pay for a park. At Saturday’s Airport Artwalk, a group supporting the idea of “Great Innovation Park” has a proposal to answer that question. The Great Innovation Park would keep a portion of the airport open for electric-powered airplanes with helicopter-style rotary blades. Proceeds from which would allow the construction of much of the remaining parkland without taxing Santa Monica residents.

But yesterday was not about how to fund the park, but what details people want to see in a future park. And for the city to be leading the discussion instead of activists and neighborhood groups; that made yesterday truly historic.

Throughout the afternoon, the comment cards on this board were swapped out. Over 200 cards were gathered by the time I left the event and there were still hours to go.
Participants were given a chance to help plan even the next outreach steps.
The outreach didn’t take up a huge amount of space, but hundreds of people filtered through between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. The green tent in the background was setup by Airport2Park and was just outside the area reserved by the city.
Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.

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