Santa Monica Airport Case Headed to Judge for Hearing

 - February 4, 2014, 3:18 PM

In its continued attempt to close Santa Monica (Calif.) Airport, the city of Santa Monica is now claiming that the statute of limitations on the FAA’s interests in the airfield should be applied with an earlier date. The city’s latest court filing, submitted late last week, follows a complaint–a quiet title action–filed against the federal government on October 31 that seeks to force the issue of determining whether or not the city can close the airport without the government taking over the airport property.

U.S. District Court judge John Walker is scheduled to hear the city’s “reply in support of motion to dismiss” on Monday. The city is claiming that the FAA’s “case is jurisdictionally deficient both because it was not brought within the 12-year statute of limitations of the Quiet Title Act (QTA), 28 U.S.C. § 2409a, and because it is unripe.”

In other words, the city claims that the statute of limitations ran out years ago–that the 12-year clock began ticking after the government expressed an interest in the land with the 1948 Instrument of Transfer. This transfer returned the airport to city control following World War II and required that the property be operated as an airport in perpetuity.


I've seen this battle rage for years, ostensibly over noise complaints. But, the airport has been there since World War I when it was designated as Clover Field. What? People building right up to the zero lot line across from the airport didn't see an airport already sitting there? What did they think goes on at an airport? So, it's not about that; everyone knows the Santa Monica City Council knows down the square nanometer what that land is worth in terms of cost of acquisition and taxes entities using the land for something other than an airport will generate. It's all about the money, nothing else. So, why doesn't the Santa Monica City Council just come straight out and say that rather than this nonsense about noise complaints. At least then, all the cards would be on the table and the SMCC can quit posturing like they are trying to do something "good" for the nearby residents and businesses by shuttering the airport. As a pilot who flies into the LA Basin regularly, we already avoid SMO because of the onerous fees and stratospheric fuel costs we get charged every time we land there.