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Research Question

  1. How can Santa Monica Municipal Airport enhance the quality of life in the Santa Monica community?

This briefing offers a menu of potential future activities for the nonaviation lands at Santa Monica Municipal Airport (SMO) to meet the following objectives for enhancing the quality of life in Santa Monica: Integrate the airport's future with the dynamic changes under way in Santa Monica, develop concepts for nonaviation airport land that emerge from the community, enhance the city's strong position as an environmental trend setter and engine of creativity, and honor the rich history of aviation in Santa Monica and Southern California. The briefing recommends that the airport upgrade access and improve circulation; reuse and improve existing buildings; enhance retail activity; expand the Museum of Flying, outdoor athletic and recreation opportunities, and the presence of the arts; develop a Sustainable Santa Monica Center; create an emergency communications and control center; and develop an economic incubator. It could accomplish these goals by partnering with colleges and universities, enhancing public and corporate economic development efforts, cooperating with regional and local transportation agencies, and complementing the Sustainable Santa Monica initiative.

Key Finding

Programs that have succeeded at other general-aviation airports might not transfer well to Santa Monica Municipal Airport

  • Many successful nonaviation projects at general-aviation airports have characteristics that led to success in their particular contexts but are not readily transferable to SMO.


  • Upgrade access and improve circulation.
  • Reuse and improve many of the existing buildings.
  • Enhance retail activity.
  • Expand the Museum of Flying.
  • Expand outdoor athletic and recreation opportunities.
  • Expand the presence of the performance and creative arts.
  • Develop a Sustainable Santa Monica Center.
  • Create an emergency communications and control center.

This documented briefing was sponsored by the City of Santa Monica and was conducted within the Transportation, Space, and Technology Program within RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment, a division of the RAND Corporation.

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