FAA Makes Its Case For SMO Airport

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The FAA has asked a California court to dismiss a lawsuit that aims to close Santa Monica Airport, and AOPA this week said the government's arguments are "compelling." Ken Mead, general counsel for AOPA, said the FAA argued that the city signed the property over to the federal government more than 65 years ago, and has repeatedly acknowledged the government's interest in the land over the intervening years. "These issues have been exhaustively researched, and like it or not, the city is obligated to keep the airport open," Mead said. "We hope the city will come to recognize that Santa Monica Municipal is a valuable economic asset as well as an important part of the regional and national transportation network."

The Santa Monica Daily Press said the FAA's response "looks strong to some people with opinions on both sides of the debate," and Airport Commission President David Goddard, an advocate for the airport’s closure, said the FAA's arguments were "beautifully written." However, he thinks the city will eventually prevail because of a clause in a post-World War II document that states the city can decide to stop operating the airport, in which case the federal agreement no longer applies. The FAA, however, said that in the current case, as long as the airport is still operating, the city isn't making a valid argument. City Hall has 10 days to respond to the FAA. Neighbors to the field have long complained about noise and pollution from the airport, and expressed concern about the danger to nearby residential areas from aviation accidents.