Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Federal Court Dismisses Santa Monica Airport Lawsuit

Airport Pilot's Association Vows to Appeal the Decision

 

December 23, 2017

Rowena Mason, Santa Paula Airport Manager

This week Santa Paula Airport provided critical support to aircraft fighting the massive Thomas Fire. More than twenty-two fire-fighting aircraft, ground tankers and over 100 fire fighting personnel utilized the Santa Paula airport. In the photo above, the entire runway was covered with aircraft and support trucks. Santa Paula airport is just forty miles North-West of Santa Monica Airport.

The United States District Court, Central District of California has dismissed a case challenging the Consent Decree between the City of Santa Monica and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the immediate shortening of the runway at Santa Monica Airport (SMO) and the closure of the airport after 2028. 

Plaintiffs Kate Scott and James Babinski had argued that the City failed to follow certain state law requirements when it entered the Consent Decree. In October 2017, Judge Ronald Lew granted a temporary restraining order briefly halting the shortening of the runway but later dissolved that order and denied the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction. 

Judge Phillip Gutierrez affirmed a state court's ruling that the City followed the requirements of the Brown Act when it entered the Consent Decree; and he held that Public Utilities Code provisions raised by the plaintiffs did not apply. 

"This ruling reaffirms the validity of the historic agreement between the City of Santa Monica and the FAA, entered as a Consent Decree by the U.S. District Court," said Mayor Ted Winterer. "Reducing flights by large jets will improve the lives our residents and neighbors living adjacent to SMO. This is another victory for Santa Monica."

The Santa Monica Airport Association called the agreement "a secret backroom deal conducted out of the public eye to shorten the runway and give the City the option close the airport at the end of 2028."

In a statement vowing to appeal the decision, Association spokesman Tom Lasser wrote: "The loss of KSMO as an airport, and the City's planned "creative reuse" of its structures and property, would force air traffic into other already congested local airports, increase traffic congestion within the City limits, and eliminate its significant financial value in addition to its incalculable public safety value in times of disaster."

"The Santa Monica City council has closed the Santa Monica airport this week for a two week project to shorten the runway as part of it's stated policy to cripple and ultimately attempt to close the airport completely at the end 2028, just ten years away. Such actions threaten the safety of the 93,000+ residents of Santa Monica and surrounding communities of Los Angeles County. SMO's single runway is being shortened to 3,500 from 4,993 feet, ruling out use by many firefighting aircraft, C-130 aircraft, and other vital aviation assets."

 

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