Board Advises Early Legal Action to Modify, Close Airport

The Santa Monica Airport Commission urges city to use declaratory relief to clarify the legality of current agreements with the FAA. A judge's opinion could be used to either modify or close the campus.

To avoid long and expensive court battles over any efforts to modify flight operations at , or even close it, the Airport Commission  recommends that the city first determine its legal rights via legislative action or a method called declaratory relief.

Simply put, declaratory relief allows the city to get a judge's opinion, before litigation, on whether the city has legal grounds to act.

The commission said the top issue needing clarification is whether the 1948 Instrument of Transfer from the federal government requiring the city to operate the airport "in perpetuity" is legal.

"If a judge rules in declaratory relief that we have the right to close the airport [whether or not the city chooses to do so], it's over—the matter is resolved," said Commissioner David Goddard. "[The legal move] is simple to do and we can do it now.''

The commission, which is an advisory board to the Santa Monica City Council, also recommends the city use declaratory relief to determine whether the 1984 operating agreement and a 1994 Grant Agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration actually expire by mid-2015. The FAA contends the Grant Agreement extends the '84 agreement until 2023.

Another recommendation is for declaratory relief on the status of one of the airport's three parcels of land, the "City Owned Parcel" at the west end. It was quitclaimed to the city in 1949 and includes nearly half of the airport's lone runway. The east-end "General Aviation Parcel" is covered by the 1948 document. The FAA contends that the "in perpetuity" requirement covers both key parcels.

However, the "City Owned Parcel" may fall outside the '48 mandate due to the later quitclaim. If so, the city would have the option of fulfilling the "in perpetuity" mandate with a much smaller airport on the "General Aviation Parcel." The airport's third section, on the southeast, is accurately titled the "Non-Aviation Parcel."


Other commission recommendations include:

  • Charging landing fees to all aircraft, not just those based at other airports.
  • Raising landing fees to cover aviation costs. (Currently, the airport budget projects a deficit).
  • Requiring toxic tort liability insurance from all aviation operators.
  • Requiring a flight operations permit for each aircraft operation, a security measure also designed to protect the city from liability lawsuits.
  • Using the precedents of two cases from LA and New York to put a cap on—or reduce—the number of flights.

The commission believes these recommendations could be initiated now, and don't fall under the operating agreements. The panel is also working on recommendations for after mid-2015, which would depend on whether the operating agreements expire.

One complaint about pollution from SMO is the leaded fuel used by piston-powered planes. No lead-free fuel has been able to provide the potency and efficiency needed in such engines. However, recent developments could mean unleaded aviation fuel is coming into its own. The is offering a presentation on those efforts June 30. For more details on that event, visit futureofavgas.eventbrite.com.

The city also plans two other workshops on the airport's future during .

Greg Fry May 31, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Thank you James for proving a truly emotional, irrational and vitriolic response, utterly uncaring to the damage you are causing and without the least bit of compassion for anything outside of your own selfish interests. Please keep it up--all readers need to know the true nature of the type of people who represent your position!
Greg Fry May 31, 2012 at 09:41 PM
@Antoni Deighton A designation of "reliever airport" is absolutely without standing as far as any practical meaning. Any airport may be designated such.
Greg Fry May 31, 2012 at 09:44 PM
James, are you directly threatening us with cyber warfare and other illegal actions? Please elaborate--thanks!
Greg Fry May 31, 2012 at 09:58 PM
@MJ (1) So you're claiming that there really haven't been planes crashing into houses and deaths--or are you just claiming that such instances are at an acceptable level--to you personally? (2) I made no reference comparing SMO to scuba diving--that reference was by those who would direct our attention elsewhere to ignore the very real damage you and your fellow SMO users are doing. (3) Well, let's examine this in sub categories: (a) You continually misdirect our attention elsewhere. It's the "look--someone or something else is killing even more people! That makes the fact that we kill maybe less people OK!" (b)You claim an absolute "right" to fly--anywhere and everywhere you want--no matter the consequences or damage you inflict on others. **** So: yet again--what is the basis of your claim not to be a selfish person who harms others--including innocent children?
Richard B May 31, 2012 at 10:27 PM
The only information I need is my own and living with this airport is a nightmare. The airport needs to close! I hope the great suggestions from the airport commission don't land on deaf ears like the Santa Monica City Council and the city attorney. They don't seem to hear the many cries from the locals who want thjs stinky and dangerous airport closed. Fight the FAA
Antoni Deighton May 31, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Greg, if you took the minute or so needed to follow the link I posted above you could read the FAA's definition of reliever airport yourself. And no, not any airport may be so designated. I take the time to read the links you post. I would appreciate it if you had the courtesy to do the same before disregarding my statement, which simply said that the FAA has designated SMO as a reliever airport. You don't do yourself any favors by publicly demonstrating your failure to read these posts carefully.
Antoni Deighton May 31, 2012 at 10:38 PM
Colin M, I agree with you one hundred percent! But then I also feel a fly-in would be preferable than citing invitations to performing black hat cyber tactics. Personally I feel that the legal basis for keeping SMO open is strong enough that the city will lose not only their case but also control of the airport. I understand that the airport's opponents are fighting an emotionally charged battle, but they are also giving each other false hopes of a non-existent victory, which has no legal basis or precedent.
an interested observer June 01, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Rich, is English your first language?
Greg Fry June 01, 2012 at 02:30 AM
@ all the rest of you: thanks for further contributing to the overwhelming evidence that you care not one whit about the damage you cause to others: kids or adults. Those of you who claim "medical emergency": your service can be duplicated by infrequent helicopter flights on a need-only basis. Less urgent flights can be handled by nearby airports without anywhere near the risks associated with SMO. Another reminder: a certain number of deaths and destruction--on the part of others, of course--are perfectly acceptable to you (why is this not surprising based on your previous selfish and arrogant posts?). And once again: thanks, James, for giving us all pause to reflect on the honest and unrestrained agenda of the selfish users of this facility--and the illegal lengths to which you are willing to go to protect your selfish hobby!
Greg Fry June 01, 2012 at 04:26 AM
@Antoni Deighton I did read the link--and whatever the FAA has to say--whether describing such as a "treasure" or whatever--still has no practical standing. The FAA is not in charge of airports. For those of you who post otherwise--the FAA has no authority to take over airport operations, reassign control operations of such to private contractors, or to mandate hundreds of millions of $$--perhaps billions--in subsidies to keep any airport open. Perhaps you should familiarize yourself with their actual authority and function--at least as intended: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Aviation_Administration
Eric H June 01, 2012 at 05:13 AM
James, take your radical comments elsewhere. There is no place for your inflammatory remarks in this discussion. You are not helping anyone with your offensive and threatening words, so please kindly refrain from any further comments of this nature.
Eric H June 01, 2012 at 05:42 AM
Greg, you have once again demonstrated a weakness in your argument. You take the one bad egg you can find (who has already been condemned by most everyone), exploit their radical remarks, and try to brand their crazy on the rest of us good people. Also, I have not seen overwhelming evidence that directly links aviation to cancer, even though you have repeatedly mentioned pilots "killing" others. Yes, I understand that there are minute levels of lead in Aviation gasoline, and that lead is poisonous. However, you cannot just assume that because there are airplanes, they caused cancer in the community. One must consider other variables, such as highway pollution, industrial pollution, and older consumer products that "may contain lead", as well as poor diet, genetics, even too much sun exposure; the list of common carcinogens goes on and on. My point is: Don't center your argument on unfounded facts. For a longer list of common cancer causes, look here: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/causes
James Sloat June 01, 2012 at 06:42 AM
Colin, MJ, Antonio: I have read all of your comments and I agree. The problem is that the anti-aviation lunatics are no different from the others that I (and others) have fought up in in Idaho (KSUN) and in Salt Lake City (Salt Lake #2). We defeated the anti-aviation groups in Idaho and are in action to defeat them in Salt Lake City. As I see it here you cannot just present facts as Colin, MJ and Antonio have done, you have to resort to other tactics as well. The anti-aviation thugs are the same as they are elsewhere. They take your facts and twist into complete fabrication. Further, the corrupt politicians and want to be corrupt politicians sell themselves to any cause that pads their checkbooks....mostly dirty real estate developer money. Up in Utah we discovered a prominent politician who had been paid off by several developers. We found electronic financial files. Imagine that...a lying, scumbag politician on the take all to take the livelihood of legitimate jobs and businesses. Up in Utah, the county allowed real estate developers to build right up to the airport boundaries and now have the same dispute as we have at SMO. So in closing, you can present all of the facts, however, they will get distorted, twisted into fabricated lies by the anti-aviation knuckle daggers. By the way, I have a extensive file of information on alternative fuels along with information on GA engine vendors that have designed more efficient, green engines.
Another WorldView June 01, 2012 at 11:31 AM
For a Republican - you sure don't seem to have much respect for "liberty", or "personal responsibility". Were you forced to move into the SMO flight path?
Another WorldView June 01, 2012 at 11:40 AM
Reverend Lovejoy's wife Shrieked, "Won't someone please think about THE CHILDREN!!!" Anyone who had a pilots license 33 years ago, must certainly have grown up around cars, which constantly spewed leaded-gasoline-exhaust - perhaps that explains a few things. Does Greg Fry care about all children, or just his own, and those of his neighbors? Certainy the kids in Mexico (where they still sell NOVA gasoline, not just Magna Sin) , must be receiving the ill effects of leaded-fuel, on orders of magnitude more, than the children exposed to the SMO flight path?
MJ June 01, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Awesome James! That was productive. Seriously it's interesting how they are working overtime to twist around the facts. They keep pointing back to an anti airport website that is using egregious stats. They are also quick to discount anything else that either causes or contributes to cancer as well as any other form of travel. It's too bad that they are blinded by their own rage and cannot see a civil discussion to be had. Way way to emotional and they just make blanket accusations.
MJ June 01, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Wrong again Rich. Like I said before if you hung around with that crowd that is only representative of yourself and the people that you hang out with. I do not know any pilots that fit the bill you would like to stamp on the entire aviation community. I do hang out on a regular basis with 50+ pilots and all are extremely safety conscious, humble, down to earth people. They are also some of the most helpful and caring people I know. I am constantly looked after and mentored by older higher time pilots. Maybe I pick my friends really well, but again this is representative of the aviation community that I have come to know. Asking me to define a low approach is lame. You want me to define the four forces acting on an airplane as well? How about how a wing works? Get over yourself. I am a current active pilot that holds the rules, regulations, and general knowledge in a very high regard. I am also not better than you or anyone else because I have a license. It. Is. A. Priviledge earned and maintained.
MJ June 01, 2012 at 04:36 PM
JeanB your so ridiculous. You are counting accidents that originated in SMO but may have crashed in the desert! I am only counting accidents that happen in Santa Monica. And since 1983 according to the United States Government, not one accident has seriously injured or killed anyone but those that were in the plane, in Santa Monica. Twist and shout all you want. That is the bottom line. That airport is not a danger to society. You want to count all accidents or incidents. You do realize that that also counts accidents that may have originated in Oregon with a destination of SMO but crashed in San Fran? Or maybe a plane that bumps into a hanger? Or maybe a plane that makes a hard landing, the kind a student pilot might make. That has to be reported but again was no danger to anyone but the student pilot bouncing off the runway. Use the correct facts for SMO and then you would have an argument. Oh, wait, you wouldn't.....
MJ June 01, 2012 at 06:31 PM
Rich you have a problem with pilots that obviously has nothing to do with SMO. I don't know why you continue to call me and other pilots ego-maniacs with a superiority complex. Not one person that knows me would agree with you. I have not called you any names, nor said once that you are uneducated or that I am better. I cannot imagine why you continue to do so. You are doing nothing but hurling insults. I am sorry you have dyslexia but bringing up political parties and running down democrats is completely un-related to our conversation.
James Sloat June 01, 2012 at 06:48 PM
MJ: So true. I have been vocal and at times verbal about this. I don't mean to offend anyone (and I apologize if I have), however, the anti-aviation movement not only distort the facts but simply fabricate garbage that has no facts to back it up. They also have absolutely no knowledge or respect for the constitution under which we live. Look, this is an emotional dispute. In short, the anti-aviation movement and the people who support in Santa Monica and Los Angeles knew that the airport existed before they signed their rental, lease or mortgage contracts. Nobody to my knowledge were forced to sign those contracts. It is also a FACT that politicians involved in these disputes are loaded with dirty real estate developer money and when these facts become public knowledge they run for the hills or to their attorneys begging for help. As for the safety and pollution debate. That is nonsense as confirmed by the FACTS presented by MJ, Antonio and Colin.
Antoni Deighton June 01, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Rich, judging by the above comment, it seems like you are not a Santa Monica resident. Perhaps you could share with us which airport you are referring to, and the county in which it is located. Otherwise the extraordinary claims you make about the pilots at SMO are only based on your opinion, which may be very different from those who have actual experience there. Doing so only discounts the value of your claims, and does nothing to move this discussion forward.
Eric H June 01, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Greg, your comment is misleading, and in some cases erroneous. First off, the FAA can and has provided subsidies (grants) to airports to keep them open. Most of these grants go toward repairing surfaces of airports, and without a proper surface on an airport, it will surely close. You also state that the FAA is not in charge of airports. Then who is? I understand that day to day tasks and oversight of projects are run by Santa Monica airport operations, but they do not have much control. Who makes the rules for ground movements? Who clears aircraft to taxi, takeoff, and land? Who enacts security measures? Who collects accident data? All of this is covered by the FAA. Its structure in some ways is like our federal system of government. Congress passes laws that standardize regulations across the board, and states see to it that those laws, as well as laws passed by the state itself, are enforced. Similarly, the FAA makes most of the rules and regulations that pilots follow, and airport officials see to it that those rules, and those of Santa Monica Airport (such as noise abatement and traffic pattern procedures), are followed.
Antoni Deighton June 02, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Rich. So now after bashing pilots in nearly all your posts, you tell us that the complaint you have is with a tower controller? I can't speak to your experience, but nearly all of my flights into EMT and POC have been on instrument flight plans. Certainly no hot-dogging there. My experience with EMT is that they have been courteous and efficient, and I've been vectored for traffic and spacing most times I've landed there. As for sneaking tape recorders around, EVERY ATC transmission is recorded and logged. Flouting regulations that would jeopardize the safety of flight would be a foolish thing to do, since in the event of an accident or incident, those radio transmissions would be brought into evidence by the NTSB, and would likely result in the controller losing their job if they were found to be breaking the regulations. How many jobs do you know of where everything you say is recorded and could be used against you? Again, my experience of ATC controllers is that they work to accommodate as must as possible in complicated airspace, but do not put their jobs at risk. I must confess that I find the broad brush with which you wish to paint all pilots as rule-busting ego-maniacs very offensive. As a commercial pilot I don't share your viewpoint. Most professional pilots have two primary goals: stay alive, and don't get fired. Most private pilots have similar goals: stay alive and don't get busted. Your claims are incomprehensible to anyone with true industry experience.
Greg Fry June 02, 2012 at 03:34 AM
@Another WorldView Now who's being "emotional"? Furthermore--who's being "emotional" while at the same time being off topic? Why do those of your ilk continue to direct our attention elsewhere in an attempt to justify the damage you cause to kids in our neighborhood? When and who has ever justified their evil actions by pointing out others or other cases where worse evil has been done?
Greg Fry June 02, 2012 at 03:50 AM
@EricH James may represent an extreme example but that does not excuse you or the rest of those who ignore the damage you are causing--and/or claim justification for your actions on the basis of "privileges" that in your minds trump all other considerations.
Greg Fry June 02, 2012 at 04:01 AM
James: Once again, does your rambling post full of epithets against those that disagree with your selfish agenda express the slightest empathy or consideration of those who are being harmed by your selfish hobby?
Greg Fry June 02, 2012 at 04:16 AM
James, you couldn't be farther form the truth. You have labeled all those who oppose your selfish agenda as "terrorists", yet it is YOU who have gone on record here to advocate illegal actions against those of us who present contravening evidence to your perspective. You want to engage in illegal cyber warfare against us? Thanks for the warning--everyone (including law enforcement) now knows who to focus on in the case of such illegal attacks. You are beyond caring regarding the damage you selfishly cause, your arrogance in claiming rights to pollute and kill others is beyond abominable, and your posts will always be judged on the basis of what you have posted. But yet again: please feel free to share with us all your next level of threats, arrogance, and complete unconcern for the hurt that you are causing others--but thanks for your relative honesty in laying your agenda bare for all of us to consider!
MJ June 02, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Well said Antoni
Antoni Deighton June 02, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Rich, I can't speak to your experiences, only mine. I don't know your training, certification, currency or recency of flight experience. I know there are some pilots who lack skills and judgement and they usually get busted pretty quickly when flying through one of the Class B terminal areas. From what I have read posted by you here, I would strongly suggest you spend some time with a CFI or DPE before you next fly. If you're not current and don't plan to fly again, then I don't think you can claim to be a pilot who is familiar with the current regulations. Rich, I sense you're the one with the ego who is trying to prove your superiority to all other pilots. Well, I'm sorry, but this is not a game. I don't think I'm better than you, only that my experiences aren't in line with yours. Respect IS earned, and if you were respectful, you would recognize that.
Another WorldView June 08, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Firstly Mr. Fry I should point out that the last time I flew out of SMO was probably in the 70's or early 80's. So I'm not doiong anything - aside from pointing out your Rob Reiner-like reliance upon children, to sell your sophistry. If you REALLY care about lead and children - then look to your south, where there actually is a problem (though people there seem to survive somehow, nonetheless). But I think that what you really care about, is your property values, and trying to raise them at the expense of an airport, that was there before you were.


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