A Santa Monica-area resident—a pilot and a mother—published an open letter in the local newspaper, taking Santa Monica Airport Commissioner Joseph Schmitz to task for claims he made in a March 28 statement regarding the airport’s status and the dangers of led aviation gasoline (100LL). Eve Lopez wrote, in part, “As a resident of Sunset Park and a general aviation pilot who flies for public benefit, I am a member of the class most highly exposed to lead. As a mother, I am too concerned for the health and welfare of children.”
Countering widely circulated claims of unusually high levels of lead among children who live near the airport, Lopez called the commissioner’s assertions “a motive dressed up as a pretext of health concerns for children,” further pointing out, “The Santa Clara Study found: the statewide average for blood lead levels in children ages 0-18 is between 1.5 percent and 2.6 percent depending on age. Of the Santa Clara children residing within 1.5 miles of the airport, 1.7 percent had elevated blood lead levels which is consistent with the state average.” She continued by asserting, “The Commissioner’s misleading statements suggest something much bigger is at play.”
Citing a litany of benefits the airport presents to the community, including $250 million in annual economic impact and 1,500 jobs, Lopez cited time-stamped evidence from public meetings of behind-the-scenes communications between council members and an attorney for a real estate developer , suggesting there are “concerns that certain members of City Council receive developer incentives to close the airport.”
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.