SM Airport in the News

April 2016

“Designer for Airport Park Expansion to Meet with Residents”

4/29/16 – Santa Monica Mirror

“Aviation School Leaving Santa Monica”

4/28/16 – Santa Monica Lookout

“Justice Settlement Statement”

4/26/16 – City Manager’s Office

Justice Aviation – City of Santa Monica Agreed Settlement Statement:
“Justice Aviation and the City of Santa Monica have reached an agreement to resolve all of their disputes and litigation. Specifically, Justice Aviation will cease all operations at SMO no later than May 11, 2016 and will vacate all premises it now occupies at the airport no later than June 10, 2016. Additionally, Justice Aviation will dismiss or withdraw as a plaintiff or complainant from its District Court Action, two Part 16 actions and the Class Action Lawsuit with prejudice, and release and hold the City harmless from any liability or responsibility for any actions, omissions or conduct by it. City will dismiss its Unlawful Detainer action against Justice Aviation and will pay Justice Aviation the full and final sum of $450,000.00 as compensation for the closure of its business operations at the SMO. As part of this voluntary resolution of disputes, neither party admits to any liability or responsibility for any of the actions, omissions or conduct alleged in the litigation and administrative proceedings filed by the parties.”

Opinion: “Stinky Airport” – Letter to the Editor – Zina Josephs

4/28/16 – Santa Monica Daily Press – page 5

“Feinstein, Boxer Seeking Flight Path Changes after Concern over Noise Pollution”

4/28/16 – Los Angeles Times

“Small aircraft set to fly from Rhode Island to Santa Monica with biofuel”

4/19/16 – Santa Monica Daily Press

“Senator Warren Introduces Legislation to Address Concerns about Flight Noise in Local Communities”

4/8/16 — Press release

“Plane slams into car parked on shoulder of freeway; passenger inside killed”

4/2/16 – Los Angeles Times

March 2016

“Santa Monica Airport Park Expansion Hits Milestone”

3/30/16 – Santa Monica Lookout

“Park project takes off with removal of aircraft”

3/29/16 – Santa Monica Daily Press

“City of Santa Monica Clears Airplane Parking Lot:  Park on the Way”

3/29/16 – Santa Monica Mirror

“Abundance of Caution Cited for Santa Monica Airport Warnings”

3/29/16 – Santa Monica Lookout

Santa Monica Airport Litigation:

“Council approves Airport leasing policy”

3/24/16 – Santa Monica Daily Press
“After months waiting and an hour of community input, the City Council unanimously approved a new leasing policy for the Santa Monica Airport without a word of debate or comment at their March 22 meeting….Residents were overwhelmingly in favor of the leasing policy. Many saw the leasing policy as a means of regulating behavior that residents deem to be dangerous or detrimental to their lives….”

“Santa Monica City Council Approves New Airport Leasing Policy”

3/23/16 – Santa Monica Lookout
“Struggling to regain ground in its long, uphill battle to close the municipal airport, the Santa Monica City Council Tuesday approved a new leasing policy that will make it harder for aviation to continue operating there. Passed unanimously and with no discussion by the Council, the new leasing rules force the airport’s 626 tenants and sub-tenants — nearly 200 of whom are in aviation or related uses – to maintain “harmonious relations” with neighbors by protecting their health, safety and environment. Rents are increased to market rates under the standardized policy – part of a concerted effort by the Council to wean the airport from relying on City coffers and to eventually erase the $13.1 million the airport already owes the City….”

“Fate of City Claim over Santa Monica Airport Now in Hands of Appeals Court”

3/21/16 – Santa Monica Lookout — “Whether the City ever gets its day in court in its David versus Goliath legal battle against the United States of America over Santa Monica Airport is now in the hands of the three judges of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals….Santa Monica has known since 1948 that the federal government has had a keen interest in operating the property as an airport and that a legal “cloud” has existed over the property’s title since then, said Alicia Klein, an attorney for the United States….But Judge Jacqueline Nguyen asked her how the United States can claim the right ‘to repossess the land in perpetuity when it didn’t own the land in the first place?’ ”

“Lufthansa jet and drone nearly collide near LAX”

3/19/16 – Los Angeles Times
“The pilot of a commercial jetliner said his plane nearly collided with a drone while approaching “Los Angeles International Airport” Los Angeles International Airport on Friday afternoon….The near-miss was reported before 2 p.m. about 14 miles east of the airport at an elevation of 5,000 feet and involved a Lufthansa Airbus A380….The drone flew 200 feet over the aircraft….”

Opinion: “More slow grinding of the wheels of justice” – Frank Gruber

3/19/16 – The Healthy City Blog
“[This is] the case the City brought in 2013 to get what’s called “declaratory relief,” which means the City is asking the courts to tell the City and the FAA what their respective rights are with respect the airport before the City makes decisions about SMO’s future….The three judges were generationally diverse: the legendary 92-year-old Harry Pregerson, who was appointed by Jimmy Carter, and who is now on senior status; Judge Richard Paez, appointed by Bill Clinton; and an Obama appointee who joined the court in 2012, Jacqueline Nguyen. “

“Airport lease policy advances without commission approval”

3/17/16 – Santa Monica Daily Press
There are a total of 629 leases at the airport. About half are direct leases with the city, but 323 tenants are subleases from one of six master tenants. Leases can cover entire buildings, office space or just a “tie-down” location for a single aircraft…. Leases account for about 67 percent of total airport revenue and the proposal calls for all tenants to move to market-rate leases to help the airport become self-sustaining and erase a $13.1-million debt it owes to the city’s general fund.

“Airport Battle Is Back in Court” — Santa Monica and the FAA encounter some turbulence at the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals

3/16/16 – The Argonaut
In the latest chapter of the complex legal battle for control of Santa Monica Airport, attorneys for both the city of Santa Monica and the Federal Aviation Administration appeared Friday before a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena. Discussion touched on the highly technical, the hypothetical and, at times, the inscrutable.

Santa Monica is appealing a 2014 district court dismissal of its lawsuit claiming that terms of 1948 and 1984 operating agreements with the federal government allow the city to take control of airport land. The city owns the land the airport is on, but the feds control airport operations. Appeals Court Judges Harry Pregerson, Richard Paez and Jacqueline Nguyen heard several minutes of oral argument, most of which pertained to those agreements, before asking questions of the attorneys.

“SMO lawsuit reaches appeals court”

3/14/16 – Santa Monica Daily Press
One of several lawsuits in the ongoing battle over the future of the local airport moved forward Friday at the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, where attorneys for the City of Santa Monica and the Federal Aviation Administration made opening arguments before a three-judge panel in a dispute over control of the property. The City, which is attempting to establish its right to the land, is appealing a recent U.S. District Court dismissal of its case against the FAA.

Deanne Maynard, an attorney representing the City, asserted that Santa Monica’s claim under the Quiet Title Act is valid and that the federal government does not have the authority to take over the property if the City ceases airport operations there. “The U.S. wants to have its cake and eat it too,” said Maynard, a partner with the firm Morrison & Foerster LLP, who was previously an assistant to the U.S. Solicitor General at the Department of Justice. “The City wants the power to decide what to do, in the best interests of its citizens, with its land.” Maynard added that the title to the property cannot revert to the federal government because the federal government never owned the land in the first place.

“Santa Monica Airport Case Gets Hearing Friday”

3/11/16 – Santa Monica Lookout

“City Rebukes National Business Aviation Association Letter to Vazquez”

3/7/16 – Santa Monica Lookout — The City’s point person on Santa Monica Airport is rebuking a national commercial aviation association’s letter linking the Council’s recent restrictions at the airfield to federal transportation funding, describing it as a veiled threat to low-income bus users.

Video Diary: “Park Progress – Episode 2” – Gavin Scott

3/5/16 – Airport 2 Park

“City Spars with Santa Monica Airport Advocates over Leases”

3/5/16 – Santa Monica Daily Press
Airport critics and supporters are engaged in a war of words over recent actions at the Santa Monica Airport. The recent exchange began on Feb. 26 when Senior Advisor to the City Manager Nelson Hernandez sent an email announcing the departure of Gunnell Properties. “This is consistent with Santa Monica policy of local control of Airport land; land that the people of Santa Monica purchased in the 1920s and have owned continuously for nearly 100 years,” he wrote. “The City attempted to negotiate an agreement with Gunnell that would have facilitated a smooth and orderly transition, unfortunately the parties were unable to reach terms.”

“Major Aviation-Related Tenant at Santa Monica Airport to Vacate”

3/1/16 – Santa Monica Lookout
In December, the City issued a warning to Gunnell and another owner of aircraft fuel tanks there to clean up possible contamination before their leases expired. It said Gunnell caused a variety of environmental problems over the years, and the City was concerned about the possible release of hazardous substances.

February 2016

Opinion: “City Spin Doesn’t Answer Legal Question” – Bill Worden, Venice resident

2/19/16 – Santa Monica Daily Press

“Toxic Emissions Charges Continue to Dog Airport”

2/12/16 – Hillsboro Tribune

“City Cites Corporate Greed as Motivation for New Airport Complaint”

2/12/16 – Santa Monica Daily Press

“City Is Squeezing Santa Monica Airport Aviation Tenants, FAA Complaint Charges”

2/10/16 – Santa Monica Lookout

“Airport Tenants File New Santa Monica Part 16 Complaint”

2/8/16 – AIN Online — Four Santa Monica Airport (SMO) tenants, along with NBAA and AOPA, have filed a new Part 16 complaint with the FAA that outlines specific grant-obligation violations by the city of Santa Monica, which owns the airport property.

“Aviation groups accuse city of making it difficult to operate at Santa Monica Airport”

2/8/16 – Los Angeles Times

Opinion: “America Is Flint” – Nicholas Kristof

2/7/16 – New York Times
We have been rightfully outraged by the lead poisoning of children in Flint, Mich. — an outrage that one health expert called “state-sponsored child abuse.” But lead poisoning goes far beyond Flint, and in many parts of America seems to be even worse. “Lead in Flint is the tip of the iceberg,” notes Dr. Richard J. Jackson, former director of the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ,,, Across America, 535,000 children ages 1 through 5 suffer lead poisoning, by C.D.C. estimates….Lead poisoning is an old problem: An Australian doctor, Lockhart Gibson, diagnosed the first case in 1904.

Then in 1943, a doctor in Boston encountered a young boy who had tried to stab his teacher, and remembered that the same boy had suffered lead poisoning years earlier. Researchers soon found that early exposure to lead impairs brain development and is strongly associated with later violent or criminal behavior. Yet the lead industry ferociously fought attempts at regulation. It wasn’t until the 1970s and ’80s that lead was largely removed from gasoline, and until 2008 that a regulation reduced lead in paint to a reasonable level. Millions of children continue to suffer brain impairment because of the greed of the lead industry.
[Note: Piston-powered aircraft, still use leaded Avgas.]

“Two Small Planes Collide off LA Coast, 3 People Missing” –

2/6/16 – AOL News — Authorities say a log book found in the water shows a 61-year-old and 81-year-old were on board one plane. Officials believe a 72-year-old pilot was the only occupant of the second plane.

February 5, 2016 — The NBAA served the City of Santa Monica with its second Part 16 Complaint on Friday, February 5.  The document can be found on the city web site:

“Park plans advancing at Santa Monica Airport”

2/4/16 – Santa Monica Daily Press

“Controllers Support, Pilots Oppose FAA Bill”

2/3/16 – AIN Online — Republican leaders of the U.S. House Transportation Committee unveiled legislation on February 3 that proposes to relieve the Federal Aviation Administration of its role in managing the nation’s ATC system, assigning that task to a separate, not-for-profit corporation. The long-anticipated move was endorsed by unionized controllers but encountered immediate resistance from Democrats, airline pilots and other unionized FAA employees.

“NATCA Announces Position on Air Traffic Reform Proposal”

2/3/16 – National Air Traffic Controllers Association

“Lawmakers Propose Bill to Privatize Air Traffic Control”

2/3/16 – Associated Press, in U.S. News & World Report —  Legislation introduced in the House would transfer responsibility for air traffic control operations from the government to a private, nonprofit corporation.

“City of Santa Monica and Aviators Back before FAA in fight for Control of City Airport”

2/3/16 – Santa Monica Lookout

“Picking Up the Pace for Airport Park Expansion”

2/2/16 – Airport 2 Park


From: Nelson.Hernandez@SMGOV.NET
Sent: 2/2/2016
Subj: Update Regarding the Expansion of Airport Park

Yesterday, the City of Santa Monica notified all tenants of our southeast parcel that “tie-down” leases for aircrafts located on the subject parcel will expire on March 15th.  The southeast parcel currently has 73 aircraft tie-down spaces spread-out over six acres. The southeast parcel is located directly east of Airport Park.

At present there are 32 aircraft leasing the property. The affected tenants will be offered tie-down spaces in other parts of the Airport, where there is adequate space. Our action is permissible because effective July 1, 2015, the southeast parcel is no longer subject to requirements by FAA that the property is exclusively for aviation purposes. By clearing the property of the 73 aircraft tie-downs and using the land for a much needed expansion of Airport Park, the City will take an important step in regaining local control of our land and improving the quality of life for our residents.

Note: At the January 26, 2016 Council meeting, the City awarded a consulting services contract to prepare feasibility studies in order to expand Airport Park onto the subject parcel.

Nelson Hernandez
Senior Advisor to the City Manager


“Santa Monica Appeals FAA’s Ruling to Keep Airport Open”

2/1/16 – Aviation International News — AINonline

January 2016

“Senators Warn Against Air Traffic Spinoff”

1/29/16 – Airport Owners and Pilots Association

“Video Diary: Park Progress – Episode 1”

1/26/16 – Airport 2 Park

“Success in Santa Monica: Prop 65 Signs Posted for Toxic Lead”

1/23/16 – Air Reform

“FAA’s air traffic control operations questioned”

1/20/16 – Associated Press

“Court Date Set for City’s Ongoing Lawsuit against the FAA”

1/13/16 – Santa Monica Daily Press
“….opening arguments in the appeal will be heard on March 11, at 9 a.m. at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena. The suit was filed under the, Quiet Title Act and is a class of lawsuit utilized by a property owner to negate any future claims to the land by other individuals. In this case, the City of Santa Monica is asking the courts to verify the City has sole possession of the land thereby preventing the federal government from ever taking control should airport operations cease….”

“The Incredible Shrinking NAS that FAA and the Av-gov Complex Don’t Talk About”

1/9/16 – Air Reform

“Predictions for 2016”

1/6/16 – The Argonaut —

“What will happen next in the city’s battle with the FAA over Santa Monica Airport?”

By Tony Vazquez
The controversy over the Santa Monica Airport will continue into the New Year and most likely for years to come. The facts are Santa Monicans have voted to take control over our airport land. Yet the FAA continues to favor aviation interests to the detriment of the health and safety of the families that live near the airport….Regardless, the city will keep fighting for local control over the airport land. The voters have spoken, and we will never give up!  Tony Vazquez is mayor of Santa Monica.


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