By Gary Walker and Joe Piasecki
First came the lawsuits. Now, the ballot measures.
A years-long battle over whether to close Santa Monica Airport over noise, pollution and safety concerns is suddenly heating up, despite a precipitous decline in airport traffic over the past 14 years.
In 2000, more than 172,000 flights either took off from or landed at SMO, according to air traffic counts released by the airport. By 2006, that number had dropped to about 137,000. By 2012 it was down to 102,000.