The San Fernando Sun/El Sol previously reported on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors’ Jan. 25 motion regarding Whiteman Airport. The Sun did not cover the airport-related event which occurred the day after that motion.
On Jan. 26, the local group Pacoima Beautiful held another protest in their ongoing campaign against Whiteman. Just as with their rally in September, most “protesters” in attendance were Pacoima Beautiful affiliates and staff. It was clearly not a random gathering of concerned citizens.
The two most notable speakers at the January event were two members of the Whiteman Airport Community Advisory Committee (CAC): Pacoima Beautiful Executive Director Veronica Padilla and Champions in Service President Bobby Arias. Padilla and Arias took the opportunity to each lay bare their true feelings.
Veronica Padilla accused Whiteman of “killing [the] community,” and derided it as a “playground”— feigning ignorance of its many educational and emergency operations. Padilla even claimed, “people are dying because of this airport every day,” but provided no basis for her ridiculous allegation. Pacoima Beautiful’s executive director spent several minutes misleading the public with hysterical nonsense.
Bobby Arias dismissed the CAC’s educational materials and proclaimed, “We need to close the Whiteman Airport!” Despite Arias’ stated disinterest in learning about the airport and its functions, he was eager to talk about developing its land.
In a digression, Arias credited firefighting units from the Barton Heliport (which operates in tandem with Whiteman) with saving his Sylmar residence twice. Even so, Arias continued his press for closure of the airport…a move that’d remove many emergency responders like those who helped him.
I am appreciative that Arias got the help he needed when he needed it, but I am appalled to see him now trying to pull the ladder up behind him with this closure advocacy. There is no rhyme or reason in commending the fire department one minute and condemning similar public safety operations the next. “I got mine” is not the mantra of civic values.
The preeminent guiding principle of the Whiteman Airport CAC is open-mindedness. Both Padilla and Arias’ January declarations are disqualifying by virtue of their repudiation of that principle. As I did in the January CAC meeting, I call upon the two to resign from the CAC.
The community deserves nonpartisan representatives who are open to discussion; these two have shown us they are not. The community deserves to enjoy all of the benefits Whiteman Airport provides–emergency responders and more. There is no good reason to deprive the public of the airport and every reason to keep this asset.
The political forces menacing the airport need to cease their hostility and focus on fixing actual problems, such as crime and homelessness. The community has pleaded for action on those issues and deserves results.
Ed. note: The CAC is meeting via Zoom on March 24 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Here is a link to the meeting: https://pwlacounty.zoom.us/j/88987038568?pwd=Yk4za1ZvZERXTm1TNHJVWmhOYzlFdz09
The letter writer is a licensed noncommercial pilot who has used Whiteman Airport’s facilities extensively.