Delayed reaction; Mayor's memo echoes public concerns about airport development

July 9, 2007

A public outcry might finally force the mayor and the Venice City Council to slow the city government's rush to develop up to 450 acres of public land at Venice Municipal Airport.

That is a remarkable -- and positive -- shift.

The development potential of the airport and the city will be better in the long run if the council throttles down the decision-making process and provides the public ample time and opportunity to participate.

Mayor Fred Hammett apparently has arrived at that point of view.

On Tuesday, he will ask his six council colleagues to delay a decision on airport development until late fall or early 2008. The council should agree to that more deliberate course.

In a July 3 memo to the council, Hammett said the Federal Aviation Administration is "under congressional direction to improve safety requirements at airports around the country."

Before approving plans for developing public land at the airport, Hammett said, the council needs "a clearer picture of safety compliance impacts to the airport and surrounding golf course and community."

For months, many citizens have implored the mayor and council to ease back on talk about development at the airport.

First, they have said, the council should find out what will happen to the municipal Lake Venice Golf Course if FAA standards require an expansion of safety areas. Also, would FAA requirements impact the public land and neighborhoods near the airport?

Hammett finally sees the light. The rest of the City Council should too.

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