SANTA MONICA—On Monday, October 24, the Santa Monica City Council will discuss at a town meeting, a lawsuit received after giving eviction notices to two private companies that are working out of the Santa Monica Airport. On August 23, the Santa Monica City Council adopted a resolution calling for the closure of the Airport as soon as legally permitted, with the goal of closure on or before July 1, 2018.
Last month, Atlantic Aviation Inc. and American Flyers were given an eviction notice by Santa Monica city officials giving them 30 days of notice that would have gone into effect on October 15. Since receiving the eviction notice both companies filed with the FAA and the eviction notice has been extended until November 4. According to the Los Angeles Times, both companies requested that the Federal Aviation Administration issue a cease-and -desist against the city to stop their removal temporarily.
Atlantic Aviation was the first to file with the FAA stating in a document that the city council is using unreasonable, unlawful and discriminatory actions to remove them from the airport. According to the LA Times, city officials say that “under federal regulations airport operators have the right to establish exclusive government-run aviation business that provides the same services as private companies such as Atlantic Aviation and American Flyers.”
Santa Monica has proposed a plan to replace the sale of jet fuel and leaded aviation gas, which both firms provide, with unleaded gas and biofuels.
“We are not surprised that the FAA has expressed interest in the Council’s action to close SMO as soon as legally possible. The FAA has consistently maintained their support for aviation interests despite their mandate to also protect public health and safety. We will respond respectfully but vigorously to defend our rights to local control of land owned by the citizens of Santa Monica since 1926,” said Santa Monica Mayor Tony Vasquez.
For decades, the Santa Monica city officials have been working to shut down the airport. Residents and city officials have complained about the noise and harmful threats the airport poses to the environment. According to an 89.3 KPCC article, the city’s senior adviser on airport affairs, Nelson Hernandez says, “the city council has decided that the airport is basically antiquated and it no longer is a community asset.”
“Our Council and community in solidarity, want to close the airport that predominantly caters to the 1% that can afford to travel by private jet. We have directed the City Manager to take every step possible to expedite the transformation of our land from Airport to park,” said Mayor Pro Tem Ted Winterer. “There are real legal obstacles and while we need to be conscientious as we navigate the court system, our resolve to close the Airport is firm.”
The FAA says federal agreements require that the airport remains open until at least 2023. The Santa Monica Airport is the oldest operating airport in Los Angeles County. According to the city of Santa Monica website, the first flights at Santa Monica Airport began in 1919 with WWI biplanes when pilots used the airport as an informal grass landing strip.