Santa Monica City Council Continues Attack on Airport

 - March 25, 2014, 3:35 PM
At its meeting tonight, Santa Monica (Calif.) City Council members plan to discuss several options to close or curtail operations at Santa Monica Airport, where this Citation X is taxiing. The agenda calls for council to “continue to pursue city control of the use of its airport land” and explore preparing the city for “closure of all or part of the airport after July 1, 2015,” as well as explore how the city might be able not to renew any flight school leases and limit or prohibit fuel sales. (Photo: Matt Thurber)

An item titled “The Future of Santa Monica Airport” on the agenda for tonight’s Santa Monica (Calif.) City Council meeting is likely to result in a spillover crowd, with both airport proponents and anti-airport groups urging members to attend to express their opinions.

In the agenda, the city staff recommended that the council “continue to pursue city control of the use of its airport land”; explore preparing the city for “closure of all or part of the Airport after July 1, 2015”; explore how the city might be able not to renew any flight-school leases (nearly all airport property leases expire July 1 next year) and also limit or prohibit fuel sales; and revise leasing policies for aviation businesses to one-year options to renew for up to three years.

While the city still asserts that a 1984 agreement with the federal government gives it latitude to close the airport after July 1 next year, it admitted that to keep revenues flowing to pay for airport operations during the coming years of expected legal disputes, the lease renewals might be necessary. However, tenants would likely see substantial increases in lease costs.