The FAA ruled Friday that the City of Santa Monica is obligated by grant assurances to operate Santa Monica Airport until Aug. 27, 2023.
From Paris, Mayor Kevin McKeown expressed his exasperation in response to the long awaited Director’s Determination by the Federal Aviation Administration on the Santa Monica Airport Part 16 Complaint.
“Unending bureaucratic review is no answer to Santa Monica’s immediate safety and pollution concerns regarding the airport and the land we own,” said Mayor McKeown. “The FAA cannot hide, in a tangle of red tape, the simple truth that Santa Monicans have voted to take control of our airport land, and we will not be stopped. It is highly unfortunate, though hardly surprising given its past actions, that yet again the FAA favors aviation interests to the detriment of the health and safety of the families that live near the Airport.”
The City of Santa Monica maintains that the City’s obligations expired June 29, 2014.
“The FAA’s decision is inconsistent with best grant management practices,” says Nelson Hernandez, Senior Advisor for Airport Affairs. “In the meantime, we will continue to take every action necessary to promote the health and safety of our residents.”
After the fourth extension the FAA filed in October, the City has been demanding the FAA do their job and expedite the release of their decision.
“The decision from the FAA is no surprise, particularly since the FAA gets to be essentially its own judge and jury”, said City Attorney Marsha Moutrie. “Once we have had time to carefully review the Director’s Determination, we will make recommendations to the City Council. This decision is not yet final. There are two more levels of appeal within the FAA, followed by judicial review in the federal court of appeals.”
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) was thrilled the airport must remain open and operational for nearly eight more years at a minimum.
“Santa Monica Airport is a tremendous asset to the community and a vital part of the transportation network in Southern California and beyond,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “This determination is good news for the city’s economy, the region’s transportation network, and the long-term future of the airport.”
AOPA was among the organizations and individuals that filed a formal “Part 16” complaint with the FAA saying that the city of Santa Monica was in violation of its federal grant obligations by repeatedly making claims that those obligations expired on June 29, 2014.
The complainants, which also included the National Business Aviation Association, actor and pilot Harrison Ford, and several aviation businesses and tenants located on the field, asked the FAA to make a formal determination as to the expiration date of the grant assurances.
In its Dec. 4 determination, the FAA noted that Santa Monica Municipal Airport serves as a “vital and critical general aviation reliever” for nearby Los Angeles International Airport. The city has 30 days to appeal the FAA’s determination.