Courts Side With City Once More in Battle Over SMO Fate

 - July 12, 2018, 5:43 PM

Santa Monica Airport (SMO) backers received another setback after the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California dismissed a case challenging the FAA’s Consent Decree and Settlement Agreement with the City of Santa Monica that clear the way for the city to close the airport in 10 years.

The court dismissed the case in its entirety, the city said. The case, filed by Barry Rosen, had sought to prevent the city from closing the airport after 2028 and require it to restore SMO’s sole runway to 5,000 feet. The agreements between the FAA and the city also enabled the city to shrink the runway, and the city accordingly shortened the runway to 3,500 feet late last year.

The district court decision followed the denial by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit last month to review a petition by NBAA to overturn the settlement agreement. That court ruled that that only the Ninth Circuit in California could review the case.

The district court also dismissed the Rosen case on procedural grounds, but Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis also noted, “[With] this ruling, as with several similar rulings from other courts in the past eight months, the U.S. District Court reaffirms the validity of the historic agreement between the City of Santa Monica and the FAA as a Consent Decree.”

Meanwhile, since the runway has been shortened, jet traffic at SMO has been reduced by 80 percent, according to Suja Lowenthal, senior advisor to the city manager, adding the reduction “far exceeds our own projections and those of others. We are happy to have been wrong.”

NBAA has said it plans to continue its fight to preserve the airport.