In the wake of the latest plane crash near Whiteman Airport in Pacoima, Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez introduced a resolution Tuesday calling on the county to shut down the airfield.
The pilot of a Civil Air Patrol-owned single-engine plane died Nov. 12 when the aircraft crashed in a residential neighborhood and caught fire near Whiteman Airport.
The Cessna 172 crashed just short of the runway on the west side of the airport, coming down near three residential structures in the 10600 block of North Sutter Avenue.
“Economic and environmental injustice permeate every facet of life here, amplified by the number of COVID-19 cases and long food pantry lines,” Rodriguez said. “I call on the county, as they evaluate efforts to invest resources with greater equity, to close and redevelop Whiteman Airport, providing economic opportunity, housing and open space for our community. It’s past due to deliver substantial economic investment and environmental justice in the Northeast Valley.”
Whiteman Airport is owned and operated by the county Department of Public Works. Its location near the Burbank and Van Nuys airports makes navigating the busy air traffic corridor “difficult and complex,” Rodriguez said.
The resolution seeks an environmental analysis of Whiteman Airport and its potential effects on the surrounding community, a legal review of Federal Aviation Administration’s assurance on all grant agreements and an economic analysis for other potential uses for the site.
The crash is under investigation by the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board.
Rodriguez also introduced a resolution asking for support of any state or federal legislation to close the airport and mitigate public safety and health risks.
Emmanuel Solis, a spokesman for Rodriguez, told City News Service that plane crashes have been an issue with residents who live near the Whiteman Airport.
The NTSB’s database shows 15 aviation accidents have taken place related to Whiteman Airport since 2009.
Rodriguez said the latest accident was a “tragic reminder” of the trauma Whiteman Airport imposes on the community of Pacoima, which she said sees no value from its operation but is subject to all the negative impacts.
Her office released a statement from Margarita Lopez, a Pacoima resident, who said: “This incident has traumatized my family. Home is not home anymore, now it is a space of fear. Another plane can fall anytime. We deserve our voice to be heard.”
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