LA WEEKLY story
Following last month’s fatal crash of a private
jet at Santa Monica Airport, the city of Santa
Monica is suing the Federal Aviation Adminis-
tration over control of the neighborhood land-
See also: Fiery Crash at Santa Monica Airport.
The community around Santa Monica Airport, in-
cluding Mar Vista on the city of Los Angeles
side, has long been opposed to the kind of
air traffic, including private jets, that
affects the area. Critics maintain that the
facility, surrounded by residential neighbor-
hoods, was never designed for jets. But they
have faced one problem:
The federal government.
The city says the FAA has essentially required
Santa Monica to continue running the airport
as is, forever, as a result of an obscure, World
War II–era contract.
During wartime the city leased its circa-1920s
airport to the government to support the war
effort, and afterward the city got the land back.
But according to Santa Monica, the government
has used “the Instrument of Transfer” paperwork
as a basis for demanding that the city continue
operating the airport as the FAA sees fit. Accord-
ing to a statement from City Hall:
The City disputes this claim based, in part, on
the City’s near 100-year ownership of the Air-
port land, the fact that the Airport was merely
leased (not sold).
The city is under a separate agreement with the
FAA to operate the airport until 2015. After that
all bets are off, at least with this lawsuit in
the mix. Santa Monica City Councilman Kevin
McKeown told us this:
That decision still lies ahead. We already have
a major council meeting on the issue scheduled
for March 2014.But there’s certainly a shut-it-
down state of mind both in Santa Monica and in L.A.
The FAA has ruled the airport with an iron fist,
rebuffing efforts, even one by Westside U.S. Rep.
Henry Waxman, to implement even some its own
See also: Santa Monica Airport Is Dangerous, Rep.
For example, the agency recommends a 1,000-foot
buffer between airports and residential areas,
but Santa Monica has 300 feet in places. In fact,
last month’s fatal jet crash happened about 150
feet from homes, Santa Monica Airport Commission
chairman David Goddard said at the time.
According to a city statement, the federal suit
seeks to …
… establish the City’s right to control future
use of the Santa Monica Airport property, which
the City has long owned. The lawsuit, filed in
federal court in Los Angeles, asks the court to
declare that the City holds clear title to the
land. And, it also challenges, as unconstitutional,
the FAA’s claim that the City must continue to
operate the Airport indefinitely, even after
contracts establishing the City’s Airport obli-
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Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero.
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