seen one community? Yet, there is
nevertheless a cautionary tale here.
Santa Monica did not protect its
airport to change with changing
times. It allowed homes to be
built right up to its boundaries. It
did not plan for future expansion
of the airport, and perhaps it
never intended to. Hindsight
does not afford us 20/20 vision.
Policymakers, those elected to
represent the community they serve,
make the decisions that shape the
future history of communities.
Santa Monica’s citizens have
spoken; elected officials have
carried out their wishes, and the
airport likely will close in 2028. It
will lose a piece of its identity and,
whatever the future holds, the city
likely will remain vibrant, thanks
in part to neighboring airports
and the wealthy communities
surrounding it. The airport is
unlikely to become an industrial
park like Camden’s Central Airport.
Nor will it become the non-descript
warehouse complex in nearby
Glendale where once the Grand
Central Air Terminal airport sat.
Like Camden’s airport, it, too,
closed in the 1950s and it, too,
once served as the central hub for
air transportation in the region.
Convair (later acquired by General
Dynamics) and Hughes Aircraft first
set up shop there. Amelia Earhart
and Charles Lindbergh flew out
of Grand Central Air Terminal,
just as they did from Camden’s
It may be too early to write a
future history of Santa Monica
Airport and of Santa Monica itself.
But history has a way of repeating
itself when we fail to learn from
past lessons. In the end, local
control still trumps federal control
(pardon the pun) when it comes to
ports and airports alike. To quote
Kurt Vonnegut; “So it goes.”
Robert Olislagers, A.A.E., is CEO of
Centennial Airport and a member of
Airport Magazine’s Editorial Advisory
Board. He may be reached at rolislagers@
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