Santa Monica Airport Lease Rates Would Skyrocket Under Commission Plan

 - February 25, 2015, 10:07 AM
At the Santa Monica Airport Commission meeting on February 23, the commission sent recommendations to the city council to raise airport lease rates, remove a large section of the airport, limit aircraft according to their emissions outputs and eliminate long-term leases. (Photo: Matt Thurber)

At the Santa Monica Airport Commission meeting on February 23, the commission sent recommendations to the city council to raise airport lease rates, remove a large section of the airport, limit aircraft according to their emissions outputs and eliminate long-term leases. According to the commission’s action plan, the city could earn an additional $800,000 per year by raising rent on non-aviation businesses and $8.1 million per year for aviation businesses; all airport leases end on June 30, 2015.

Also under the plan, a portion of the airport that the city believes isn’t part of an agreement with the government to keep the airport operating in perpetuity could be closed, lopping about 2,000 feet off the nearly 5,000-foot runway. At the same time, the city could build runway safety areas at the end of each runway.

Higher rates would see rent for the cluster of buildings at the Atlantic FBO grow to $36 a square foot per year, up from the current 50 cents. The annual rate per square foot for Gunnell hangars/buildings would climb from 49 cents to $12 (hangars) and $30 (buildings).

In a February 2 letter to the commission, NBAA pointed out that the city’s grant assurance obligations extend to 2023, not 2015, and that the city can’t limit leases to month-to-month. “Most notably,” NBAA wrote, “aircraft emissions are a matter over which the EPA and FAA jointly have exclusive statutory jurisdiction; thus, the city cannot directly or indirectly regulate operations and/or tenants at SMO based upon aircraft emissions.”