On Friday, the U.S. government filed a response to a lawsuit filed against it by the city of Santa Monica, which is seeking to establish its right to control future use of the Santa Monica Airport property. The city believes that it did not relinquish title to the airport when it leased the property to the U.S. government during World War II. When the government relinquished the leasehold on Aug. 10, 1948, it stipulated that the property must remain an airport.
Santa Monica’s complaint seeks both a declaration that clear title to the airport property belongs to the city and that the requirement to keep operating the land as an airport is unconstitutional (“a taking without just compensation”). The FAA’s counter motion lays out the federal government’s case, pointing out that in two separate legal opinions, the city was forced to acknowledge that it could not decide to change the terms of the instrument of transfer.
According to the new motion filed on behalf of the FAA, the takings claim also is not “ripe” because the federal government has not actually tried to take possession of the airport property.