Updated June 15, 2017 – Many Santa Monica leaders often pat themselves on the back for the strides they’ve taken to make our city sustainable. We’re world famous for many things, including our efforts to combat climate change at a local level, but above all Santa Monica is a travel destination. Last year Santa Monica tourism was valued at $1.87 billion dollars .
The City spends a lot of time and money encouraging an already robust and global travel & tourism industry. The problem for a city as sustainable as Santa Monica, is despite Expo Line, Breeze Bike Share, EV charging infrastructure, and Big Blue Bus RNG fleet, millions of people and tons of freight get to Santa Monica every year via LAX. When you get right down to it, a massive portion of Santa Monica’s economy runs on jet fuel.
Without commercial aviation at LAX and area airports, there would be no tourist industry on the scale we have now. Or overnight shipping for our affluent and globe-trotting residents, or globally sourced fresh foods in our restaurants. The list goes on.
You’re doing a heck of a job
The best idea our council has come up with to address the issue to date, is to spend more money promoting international tourism, shortening our local runway and eventually closing Santa Monica Airport. What city leaders don’t talk about, is that their decisions around Santa Monica Airport will force even more of our aviation impacts onto the backs and into the lives of significantly less well-off people who live in the wake of Los Angeles and Van Nuys airports.
Visions of sustainability
There is a remedy, a responsible and sustainable approach. Which is to do aviation right at Santa Monica Airport, and teach the rest of the world how to do it too.
Take responsibility, by extending the reach of the Big Blue Bus line to include regional on demand Air Line service. Fly only aircraft which use sustainable aviation biofuel, are appropriate for the mission, and our airport.
Run a Big Blue Bus flight school with the best new single and multi-engine aircraft, which also use sustainable aviation biofuel. Teach our own professional pilots how to fly the Santa Monica way, for Santa Monica’s and for everyone’s sake.
Run a Big Blue Bus Airframe and Powerplant school, teaching students how to service the types of aircraft flown, with a path towards employment. A completely normal and well understood education and regulatory framework.
Encourage sustainable aviation related service businesses. An entire new market is now in it’s infancy, retro-fitting small aircraft with newly FAA certified engines capable of using sustainable aviation fuels. You want electric aircraft? Ask for electric aircraft, they’ll show up.
The resulting culture and institutions would be innovative, appropriate and immediately give us what we lack now, virtually complete accountability for the majority of operations at Santa Monica Airport. All the while starting to address our swept under the rug impacts, with real solutions that connect people and communities. Leading the way for the rest of the world in sustainable, transit-connected urban aviation. Imagine that. As someone once said, it’s easy if you try.
This solution isn’t complicated, and the general aviation industry along with the public, is ready, willing, and able. It’s time to induce demand for sustainable aviation.
Are we ready?
Are we ready to be sustainable, Santa Monica? I say we are, and in the end I don’t think we have a choice if we are who we claim to be. Let’s do this.