SANTA MONICA, Calif. — The Federal Aviation Administration has threatened legal action against Santa Monica over the city’s ongoing effort to reduce flight operations at the city’s airport, force out aeronautical tenants and close the facility within two years.
The FAA sent a strongly worded letter reminding Mayor Tony Vazquez of the city’s obligations under federal agreements to keep the airport open until at least 2023 and treat aviation tenants and aircraft owners fairly, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday (http://lat.ms/2ccg0KW ).
“The FAA is prepared to pursue all legal remedies at its disposal if the City Council takes concrete actions to restrict leases or operations without complying with applicable federal law,” wrote Kevin C. Willis, the agency’s director of airport compliance.
Vazquez said city officials were not surprised by the FAA’s letter.
The agency “has consistently maintained their support for aviation interests despite their mandate to also protect public health and safety,” the mayor said in a statement obtained by the Times. “We will respond respectfully but vigorously to defend our rights to local control of land owned by the citizens of Santa Monica since 1926.”
Supporters of closing the airport say they are concerned about noise, air pollution and the risk of a plane crashing into nearby neighborhoods.
The City Council last week adopted a resolution calling for the closure of its airport as soon as legally permitted — with the goal of shutting down the facility on or before July 1, 2018. The council also directed the city manager to implement a series of measures intended to reduce what it says are adverse environmental impacts of the airport.
Willis referred to a recent FAA decision that requires the airport to stay open until 2023 to comply with conditions of a $240,000 federal grant the facility received in 2003.
Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/