(CalPilots Editor’s Note: Using the term “Airport Commission” is laughable when it comes to Santa Monica. In the spirit of the true airport commission, it is supposed to look after the airport and include actual aviation expertise, not real estate and other business interests such as the City of Santa Moncia populated it with) The Santa Monica Airport Commission showed its support for the city’s strategy to eventually shut down aviation operations at the airport, recommending this week that the city council move ahead with taking over chunks of the 227-acre field and imposing new rules for hangar owners and other users.
This latest move in the long battle over KSMO’s future prompted airport advocates to reiterate their position that federal obligations require that the land must continue to operate as an airport. “These proposals have been offered by opponents of Santa Monica Airport before, and they’ve been shown to be lacking a basis in federal law and grant obligations,” NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen said in a statement Wednesday. “We have long fought these and other attempts to restrict access at SMO, and we will continue to do so.”
The city wants to implement changes effective July 1, the day after an agreement with the FAA expires. The proposals include month-to-month leases, requiring that new leases require environmental assessments, and asking the FAA to remove aviation uses from most of the airport. In advance of the airport commission’s vote, NBAA sent a letter (PDF) stating that the panel “continues to be laboring under the misapprehension that subsequent to that date, there will be no federal obligations applicable to SMO.” Meanwhile, as the city appeals a federal court’s decision dismissing its lawsuit against the FAA to take over the airport, NBAA and AOPA have filed a friend-of-the-court brief (PDF) to support their argument.