The city of Santa Monica issued eviction notices to two FBOs on the field, just days after one of them, Atlantic Aviation, filed a federal complaint in its fight to remain at the airport. Atlantic, which operates FBOs across the country, charges that the city’s efforts to limit fuel sales and other aviation-related activities at KSMO runs against the airport’s long-term obligation to the FAA to keep the airport operating. American Flyers, which operates flight schools in multiple states, also received a 30-day notice from the city, which is trying to close the airport for development. Atlantic’s lawyers have asked the FAA in the complaint to take “corrective action” against the city for obstructing its operations, according to a report in the Santa Monica Lookout. “The City’s objectives are now crystal clear: fight the FAA for ‘local control’ of SMO in the courts and, in the interim, undertake any measure at its disposal to severely curtail or discourage air traffic at SMO,” the complaint says.
The FAA has said in the ongoing legal disputes that federal funding obligations require KMSO to stay open until at least 2023. In a recent letter to the city reacting to the City Council’s decision to shut down the airport by 2018, the agency said it would take legal action to prevent the restriction of airport operations.But the city has pressed on with plans to close the field in the next couple of years and redevelop the land as a park and business district, vacating airport business spaces and aircraft tiedowns while raising landing fees. As far as the city is concerned, Atlantic no longer fits the needs there. “Atlantic Aviation caters to people who can afford to travel by luxurious private jet,” Nelson Hernandez, a senior advisor to the city, told the Lookout. Anti-airport activists have long argued that aircraft cause noise, pollution and safety problems for city residents. The Los Angeles Daily News noted in a pro-airport editorial this week that those complaints have been ongoing since the post-war era, when Douglas Aircraft was unable to expand there and moved to Long Beach after building military aircraft at KSMO during World War II. Meanwhile, business jets increased their activity there over the decades, fueling calls to close the airport.