FAA Wins Latest Battle over Santa Monica Airport
Aviation interests are pleased with a decision issued late Thursday by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California that halts an effort by the city of Santa Monica to close its airport (SMO). Judge John Walter ruled in favor of the position advocated by the FAA, that the city’s challenge to the requirement that SMO continue to be a publicly accessible airport was “untimely.”
“The judge’s decision in this case rebuffs the city’s latest effort to find a means to close the airport, but does not definitively resolve the status of the airport,” NBAA said. “As a result, NBAA will continue to advocate for the airport’s future.”
In a lawsuit filed last October and struck down last week, city officials asserted that Santa Monica never relinquished ownership to the airport when it leased the property to the U.S. government for use as a military airfield and manufacturing base before World War II. Thus, city officials argued, this effectively voided any subsequent agreements with the FAA requiring the city to maintain the airfield.
The FAA countered that the city’s latest claim was invalid under the Quiet Title Act, which establishes a 12-year deadline for any property disputes brought against the federal government, once the government establishes an interest in the property. Judge Walter agreed with the FAA’s argument that this deadline passed more than 50 years ago.