Airport Conversion Project: Community invited to learn, share ideas, engage on the future of the Santa Monica Airport site

May 10, 2024 8:24 AM
by Amber Richane

The city of Santa Monica is officially kicking off the community engagement process for the Santa Monica Airport Conversion Project on May 19 at Clover Park from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The community is invited to listen, learn, share ideas, and engage with others about the closure of the airport and a future centered on a “Great Park,” consistent with Measure LC, at the Santa Monica Airport property.

As the Public Works Department’s Acting Chief Operations Officer – Special Projects, I head up the airport closure and conversion team, which is leading this community engagement process in collaboration with the city’s consultant, Sasaki.

I am eager to engage with the community on this landmark city project that will shape our community for generations to come. And, above all, I look forward to hearing from all of you about what you’d like to see at this site and what Santa Monica needs to thrive in the future.

We’re kicking off the process this month, and I encourage everyone to get involved. You can start by signing up for emails at our new community engagement website at In mid-May, we’ll expand the website to include engagement surveys, virtual learning sessions and more.

In February 2017, the City Council adopted Resolution 11026 directing the city to take all actions necessary to ensure the closure of the Santa Monica Airport effective after Dec. 31, 2028. This represents a significant portion of the city's total land area and the future of the site is subject to voter-approved Measure LC, which states:

“If all or part of the Airport land is permanently closed to aviation use, no new development of that land shall be allowed until the voters have approved limits on the uses and development that may occur on the land. However, this section shall not prohibit the City Council from approving the following on Airport land that has been permanently closed to aviation use: the development of parks, public open spaces, and public recreational facilities; and the maintenance and replacement of existing cultural, arts and education uses.”

The council has tasked the Public Works Department, which is also responsible for maintaining airport operations until the closure in compliance with the Consent Decree, with implementing a community engagement process to help determine the future of the Airport focused on a “Great Park” that will serve Santa Monica for generations to come.

The airport team is also working closely with the City Attorney’s Office to develop a timeline of regulatory and operational activities required at the federal, state, and local level to properly close the airport. More information about the closure process can be found in the Information Item linked below.

Community Engagement
The community engagement process is anticipated to consist of five phases, the first of which will kick off at the May 19 event and run through July 2024.

The first phase also includes the creation of the new engagement website for the project, which is now live and can be accessed here.

Initially, the site contains an email sign-up form for those who wish to receive project updates. The website will soon be expanded to include virtual learning sessions, project surveys, project history, and a calendar of upcoming events. It will also be periodically updated throughout the community engagement process and be available in English and Spanish.

This new website is dedicated to the community engagement phase of the process. Historical data and other information about the Airport Conversion Project can still be found at our city webpage here.

Following the May 19 kickoff event, the city will host pop-up booths at a number of community events.

The city is committed to listening at each step in this process and will share more details as they become available.

Future engagement phases will include:

Sasaki and city staff plan to host more than 60 meetings and listening sessions with community members, city boards and commissions and the City Council in various formats throughout the 21-month engagement process.

The community engagement process is anticipated to last through the end of 2025, at which time a preferred planning scenario for the airport property, based on the results of the community engagement process, will be presented to the City Council for consideration.

Next Steps
Once the proposed preferred scenario is approved by the City Council, the Environmental Impact Review, or EIR, process, which is required by the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA will commence. It is expected that this process will begin in early 2026, giving the city sufficient time to complete the EIR ahead of the anticipated closure of the airport property effective Jan. 1, 2029.

After closing the airport, the city will begin the implementation of the preferred scenario. The timeline for implementation will vary based on what the preferred scenario ends up being, but we’ll keep the public apprised at every step of the process.

Santa Monica Airport is still an airport
We are working full steam ahead on the council and community directed process to close Santa Monica Airport and focus conversion efforts on a “Great Park” at the site.

In the meantime, airport operations must continue to comply with the Consent Decree between the city of Santa Monica and the Federal Aviation Administration.

In exchange for being allowed to shorten the runway and close the airport after Dec. 31, 2028, the city has agreed to “make the airport available as an airport for public use on reasonable terms and without unjust discrimination to all types, kinds and classes of aeronautical activities, including commercial aeronautical activities offering services to the public at the airport.”

Our daily work to comply with the legal requirements of the Consent Decree occurs concurrently to and separate from the planning for the future of the site.

Airport operations and Consent Decree compliance are managed by the city’s Airport Division, under Airport Director Stelios Makrides. Required daily airport operations include reviewing facility leases for aeronautical as well as non-aviation services in accordance with the leasing policy and minimum standards adopted by the City Council in 2018. These policies were established to ensure that the city complies with its obligations to operate the airport until the end of 2028. 

The airport operations staff are committed to taking all necessary steps to ensure the timely closure of the airport. The city will reserve the right to terminate any aeronautical lease upon the closure of the airport so that no aeronautical lease will run past Dec. 31, 2028.

Stay informed
We are committed to keeping the community informed and engaged throughout the airport conversion process and encourage everyone to get involved in this exciting project.

For more detailed information on the next steps of the airport closure and conversion process, please see the posted Information Item.

Sign up for community engagement updates here.

For historic information and documents related to the airport conversion, click here.

Authored By

Amber Richane
Acting Chief Operating Officer – Special Projects


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