Politics

Santa Monica Airport businesses challenge eviction as city tries to close facility

A plane flies into Santa Monica Airport. Santa Monica city council voted in mid 2016 to shutter the airport for good in 2018.
A plane flies into Santa Monica Airport. Santa Monica city council voted in mid 2016 to shutter the airport for good in 2018.
Flickr/mcclave

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Two companies that run aviation-related businesses at Santa Monica Municipal Airport have, for now, thwarted the city's efforts to evict them. It's part of the city's ongoing effort to wind down and close the airport.

Santa Monica's 30-day notice to leave would have taken effect Oct. 15. But that date has come and gone, and the fixed-base operations companies — Atlantic Aviation and American Flyers — are still  up and running at the airport.

The companies complained to the FAA, which is now investigating whether the eviction effort violates federal aviation laws.  That eviction notice has been extended to at least Nov. 4.
 
"When you own an airport and you take federal money, or in this case your property comes in part from the federal government, you just don't have the right to shut it down," said attorney Richard Simon, who represents American Flyers.

Santa Monica says it has the right replace the companies providing legally-required airport services with its own employees offering the same services. Part of the FAA investigation concerns whether the city is making a good-faith effort to provide those services — or if it's using the eviction as a pretext to deteriorate the airport's business operations.

Nelson Hernandez, who advises the city manager on airport issues, said the City Council would hear a staff report on the effort to take over aviation services at its Oct. 25 meeting. That meeting will also include a council review of potential new lawsuits and FAA proceedings against the city.