Santa Monica Airport Supporters File Federal Complaint

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A group of businesses and advocates of Santa Monica Airport have filed a formal complaint with the FAA, charging that the city has improperly diverted airport funds and denied airport leases. The complaint (PDF), filed under Part 16 regulations for federally funded airports, says the city has imposed interest "on purported loans at rates exceeding those allowable" under FAA policy and failed to properly document loans and interest charges. It also says the city was unjustified in its 2013 resolution to raise landing fees from $2.07 to $5.48 per 1,000 pounds maximum gross landing weight, applying them to aircraft based at KSMO in addition to transient traffic. The FAA will review the complaint and if a docket is opened, the city would file a response.

Among the complainants are AOPA and NBAA. AOPA, which has led a long-running fight against the city to keep the airport open for general aviation, said this week the city's actions run against FAA authority and jeopardize 1,500 aviation jobs. Mayor Tony Vazquez told the Santa Monica Daily Press Friday the city is representing its citizens over "corporate aviation interests bullying us to preserve amenities that benefit only the upper echelon that can afford traveling by private air." The new complaint follows a recent Part 16 decision in which the FAA said the airport is protected until 2023, but the city continues to move ahead with its plans to redevelop the 227-acre airport for business and recreational use. Earlier this month, the city took over a six-acre parcel used for aircraft tiedowns and gave 32 tenants until March 15 to vacate their spaces so the land can be used to expand an adjacent park, according to a Daily Press report.