Fight Over Santa Monica Airport Intensifies
The fight over Santa Monica Airport heated up on Jan. 3, 2014, as a federal judge denied the FAA’s request for an extension of time to respond to the lawsuit filed by the City in November seeking to close the airport. Citing what he referred to as the “time-sensitive nature of the action,” Judge John F. Walter ordered the FAA to file its response by Jan. 10, according to the Santa Monica Lookout. Despite the nearly century-old airport being a transportation hub for the populous area and a part of the disaster plan for the earthquake-prone Los Angeles basin, anti-airport forces have caused the City of Santa Monica to file the lawsuit to close it. Some aviation groups assert that users of the airport have been lax in demonstrating its value to the community and acting to preserve it.
Because the airport was leased to the federal government during much of World War II, the FAA has maintained that the City is obligated to keep the airport open in perpetuity. The lawsuit seeks a ruling overruling the federal government’s position. The historic airport, home to numerous aviation firsts, including the site where the airplanes that made the first flight around the world and the Douglas DC-3 were designed and built, has been under increasing pressure after the city failed to pass zoning regulations that would prevent residences from being constructed adjacent to it. Despite the long-established presence of the airport, vocal residents who built or bought homes near it have sought to shut it down. Strict noise requirements, themselves the subject of several lawsuits, are in effect for the airport.