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Santa Monica Deal To Be Reviewed

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Old May 15th 17, 04:18 PM posted to rec.aviation.piloting
Larry Dighera
external usenet poster
Posts: 3,750
Default Santa Monica Deal To Be Reviewed

While the FAA has shown once again, after its pathetic effort in the
Megis field battle, that it has no backbone, the judicial system
intervenes in the KSMO fight in the name of safety and justice.



Santa Monica Deal To Be Reviewed

By Russ Niles

A panel of judges will review the deal struck between the FAA and the
city of Santa Monica that will close the airport by 2028 and severely
curtail operations in the meantime. A U.S. District Court of Appeals
rejected the National Business Aviation Association’s bid for an
injunction against implementing the deal but it did agree the legal
underpinning of the agreement needs further study. A separate “merits
panel” of judges will take a detailed look at the arrangement, which
was agreed to by the city and FAA in January. NBAA President Ed Bolen
said the decision “makes clear that the court holds steadfast on the
need for a thorough and fair hearing about this unprecedented
situation,” according to a story in the Santa Monica Lookout.

NBAA alleges that in making the deal with the city, the FAA “failed to
follow established procedures when issuing the settlement order,
including consideration of its detrimental effects to operators and
businesses at the airport, and to the National Airspace System.”
Although the airport will remain open for 11 more years, the deal
gives the city the right to shorten the runway from 5,000 feet to
3,500 feet, which is too short for many business aircraft. It also
allows the city to take over all services at the airport after the
runway is shortened. The deal ended decades of costly legal sparring
between Santa Monica and the FAA but the bulldozers will be held at
bay at least until the merits panel completes its review. It’s not
clear how long that might take.

http://www.surfsantamonica.com/ssm_s...ject ion.html
Santa Monica Lookout

Pro-Santa Monica Airport Aviation Group Finds Encouraging News in
Court of Appeals Rejection

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

May 10, 2017 -- Last week, a U.S District Court of Appeals rejected a
pro-Santa Monica Airport organization’s attempt to immediately halt a
consent decree to close SMO by 2028, which would dramatically curb jet
traffic in the interim by shortening the runway.

But the losers in May 4 appeals court ruling are far from discouraged
("Circuit Court Denies Injunction to Halt Implementation of Santa
Monica Airport Closure Deal," May 5, 2017).

The reason: The court also decided the consent decree was worthy of a
more in-depth review, and so sent the litigation by the National
Business Airport Association (NBAA) to a separate “merits panel” of

Bringing in a merits panel “makes clear that the court holds steadfast
on the need for a thorough and fair hearing about this unprecedented
situation,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen.

The consent decree between the City of Santa Monica and the Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) caps decades of battling between the two
over SMO’s future ("City, FAA Agree to Close Santa Monica Airport in
2028," January 28, 2017).

The City, besieged by complaints from SMO neighbors, said the airport
should have already been shuttered.

The FAA, which manages the nation’s airport operations, said no. The
decree closes the airport by December 31, 2028 -- much later than the
anti-SMO camp wanted -- but also includes measures to drastically
curtail air traffic there in the interim.

It ends the lawsuits that long entangled both parties.

But the January 28 agreement -- narrowly approved by the City Council
on a Saturday behind closed doors -- has spurred more animosity.

NBAA’s first filing was submitted February 13 ("Aviation Groups
Challenge Santa Monica Airport Closure Deal," February 15, 2017).

It asked the appeals court to review the underlying legality of the
agreement, arguing the FAA “failed to follow established procedures
when issuing the settlement order, including consideration of its
detrimental effects to operators and businesses at the airport, and to
the National Airspace System,” Bolen said.

The FAA subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the petition.

On March 6, the NBAA filed for a court stay against the FAA, and an
injunction against the City of Santa Monica to restrict any interim
efforts to shorten SMO’s runway pending court review of the consent
decree’s legality ("National Aviation Group Asks Court to Delay
Reducing Santa Monica Airport Runway," March 8, 2017).

Other parties in both filings include the Santa Monica Airport
Association, a longstanding proponent for maintaining the airport’s
current operations; two airport-based businesses, Bill's Air Center,
Inc. and Kim Davidson Aviation, Inc.; and Redgate Partners, LLC and
Wonderful Citrus, LLC, two operators that frequently use SMO.

The City did not comment on the issue going to a merits panel.

It is also being sued in Los Angeles Superior Court by a student pilot
and certified pilot at SMO for allegedly violating the 1953 Brown Act
in deciding the decree in executive session in an unusual Saturday

City officials deny the allegations ("New Lawsuit Seeks to Invalidate
Santa Monica Airport Consent Decree," May 9, 2017).

http://www.surfsantamonica.com/ssm_s...ject ion.html

Safety Problems Identified in Shortened Santa Monica Runway Plan

The city has scheduled May 24 meeting to announce a final construction

By Rob Mark April 27, 2017

The city of Santa Monica is scheduled to consider runway options after
hearing public comments at a May 2 meeting.

A report posted earlier this week on the city of Santa Monica’s
website highlighted a number of potential safety issues surrounding
current plans to shorten Santa Monica’s Runway 03/21 per the city’s
January agreement with the FAA.

The report said, “The 3,500-foot distance shall not include the runway
safety areas that shall be constructed and maintained at both runway
ends.” Depending upon which of two potential design configurations are
chosen, the amount of safety buffer area for aircraft departing Runway
21 could be as much as 500 feet shorter. One version also places
departure traffic at a higher altitude over the surrounding community
than the other.

Other operational concerns claim the shortened runway will not include
runway end identification lights or precision approach path
indicators, potential safety problems that didn’t go unnoticed by one
Santa Monica official. “Operating the airport without these (runway)
features is contrary to safety standards,” said Susan Cline, the
city’s director of public works in a story published yesterday by the
Santa Monica Lookout.
“The FAA also indicated an interim phase with one or more of these
non-standard features may not be consistent with the consent decree,”
she added. On Monday, Cline further explained all of the concerns in
an information item addressed to the mayor and city council.

One source said the altered runway would demand aircraft back-taxi,
then make a 180-degree turn before lining up for takeoff.

The National Business Aviation Association on March 5 joined five
other aviation stakeholders in a request to stay the FAA’s agreement
with the city. Stakeholder efforts included an injunction against the
city to halt any runway work. The city of Santa Monica is scheduled to
consider runway options after hearing public comments at a May 2
meeting. The city is then expected to identify its final design choice
on May 24.


Officials Ground Proposal for Interim Replacement as SMO Runway is

By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

April 26, 2017 -- A proposal to create a temporary runway for use at
Santa Monica Airport while the existing one is shortened is being
flagged as potentially unsafe and could be grounded for good.

A report posted on the City website on Monday said the interim runway
could be “contrary to safety standards.”

As proposed, the interim runway did not include "runway end identifier
lights”, which are flashing strobe lights that enable a landing pilot
to identify the beginning of the runway from the sea of city lights,
the report said.

The temporary runway also lacked “precision approach path indicators,”
which provide the landing pilot with lights adjacent to the runway
indicating if the aircraft is on the correct glide slope for a safe

“Operating the airport without these (runway) features is contrary to
safety standards,” said Susan Cline, the City’s director of public

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expressed concerns as well,
Cline said.

“The FAA also indicated that an interim phase with one or more of
these non-standard features may not be consistent with the Consent
Decree,” Cline said.

A 227-acre airport handled about 85,000 operations (take offs and
landings) in 2015. Most are propeller aircraft used by hobbyists, but
the number of chartered jets is rapidly increasing.

Jets are also responsible for soaring complaints from the
neighborhoods surrounding SMO and a big reason the City -- after
decades of uphill battles -- signed a compromise pact (called a
consent decree) in January with the FAA to close SMO by December 31,
"City, FAA Agree to Close Santa Monica Airport in 2028," January 28,

The consent decree delays shuttering SMO for too long, in the view of
some in the anti-SMO camp. But the agreement also cleared the way for,
among other measures, making the runway too short for comfort for jets
"Reaction to Santa Monica Airport Closure Deal Mixed," January 30,

In late February, the City Council awarded a contract not to exceed
$879,741 to AECOM/Aeroplex for feasibility, design and construction
for a runway of 3,500 feet in length (a 1,500 foot reduction) and a
possible interim version
"Council to Begin Implementation of Santa Monica Airport Closure
Deal," February 27, 2017).

But an interim runway created other potential problems, Cline said.

“An interim project phase would also require aircraft to ‘back-taxi’
(taxi against the direction of arriving traffic and then turn 180
degrees to depart) at both ends of runway, which is considered to be a
nonstandard operation," she said in the report.

"It also extends aircraft time on the runway and subsequently
decreases safety,” Cline said, adding that the runway thresholds
(runway ends) would have to be relocated as part of any interim

As a result, the approach and departure procedures would need to be
updated by the FAA, she said, and potentially again when the final
design changes are made.

Updated procedures are published to the aviation community on a 54-day
cycle, Cline said.

“Given the construction schedule for an interim solution, the FAA
would not have time to update and publish the new procedures,” she

The City’s goal is to complete all required work in time to meet the
FAA December 7, 2017 deadline for publication of updated approach and
departure procedures, she said.

If the deadline is missed, the City could be forced to wait for the
February 1, 2018 publication. “Hence, time is of the essence,” she

Meanwhile, the effort to decide on the best design for the reduced
runway is continuing.

A community meeting Tuesday attracted a crowd of more than 120 people,
said Nelson Hernandez, the senior advisor on airport issues in the
City Manager’s Office.

Two design options were discussed, he said. The options include
providing pilots with either an additional 1,035 feet of buffer area
and more reaction time, or 736 feet for taking off and landing,
officials said.

The City’s Airport Commission will hear a similar presentation on May
2 and will take public input on the design options prior to making its
recommendation to the City Council. The meeting will be at 1685 Main
Street, in the City Hall’s council chambers. It starts at 7 p.m.


Aviation Groups Challenge Santa Monica Airport Closure Deal
Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
Roque & Mark Real Estate
2802 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404
(310)828-7525 - roque-mark.com

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

February 15, 2017 -- The recently approved deal between the Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) and the City of Santa Monica to close
the local airport at the end of 2028 has many critics on both sides of
the airport debate.

And now some of those critics are taking their complaints to court.

A group led by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and
the Santa Monica Airport Association filed a petition this week
requesting the federal appellate court in Washington D.C. review the

The three-page petition contains mostly technical legal language, but
a statement released by the NBAA is in plain English and accuses the
FAA of giving into “a vocal minority of Santa Monica residents” to
create a situation “that would severely restrict aviation access
throughout Southern California and across the U.S.”

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen said, “NBAA remains committed to
aggressively supporting unrestricted business aviation access to SMO
through this petition and other available channels.”

The City has not officially responded to this latest action by
aviation interests to keep Santa Monica Airport (SMO) open. But Mayor
Ted Winterer has been quoted in the press saying it was a “desperate

The Santa Monica Airport Association has not commented on the petition
specifically, but has used heavy language in the weeks since the
agreement was signed to state its opposition.

On the front page of the association’s website is a statement
requesting donations so it can protect “Santa Monica Airport under
death threat by backroom deal between [the] FAA and [the] City.”

The plea states, “One of America’s crown jewels is being pried out of
its setting by a heedless bureaucracy -- this must be stopped.”

The association argues this conflict goes beyond just Santa Monica,
and that the closure of SMO would lead to airport closures throughout
the country.

“Don’t let greedy politicians and backroom government deals sell out
our nation’s airports,” the association says. “Please help us prevent
SMO [from] becoming the next domino in a cascade of destruction that
began with Meigs Field.”

Meigs Field was a small airport in Chicago that closed in 2003 after
years of legal battles among governments and activists similar to
those involving SMO.

The agreement between the City of Santa Monica and the FAA was
announced late last month on a Saturday -- surprising many political
observers who thought years of fighting were ahead before any
conclusion would be reached.

The council vote for approval was 4-3 (“City, FAA Agree to Close Santa
Monica Airport in 2028,” January 28, 2017).

A federal judge approved the agreement several days later (“Federal
Judge Approves Santa Monica Airport Closure Deal,” February 3, 2017).

In addition to the closure of SMO on December 31, 2028, the agreement
calls for almost immediate work to reduce the size of the runway from
nearly 5,000 feet to 3,500 feet

Reaction to the agreement has been mixed, with even many SMO foes
opposing it because it keeps the airport open for many years.


AOPA backs Santa Monica in court
March 16, 2017 By Jim Moore

AOPA has sought court recognition to support future intervention as
the nation’s second-highest court weighs the fate of Santa Monica
Municipal Airport in California.
AOPA has asked federal courts to affirm any airport user will have
standing to challenge any future violation of Santa Monica's
obligations to operate the embattled California airport through 2028,
at least. File photo.
AOPA has asked federal courts to affirm any airport user will have
standing to challenge any future violation of Santa Monica's
obligations to operate the embattled California airport through 2028,
at least. File photo.

The association on March 15 filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the District of Columbia Circuit a notice of intent to participate as
a “friend of the court” in a case brought by the National Business
Aviation Association and five individual petitioners in February
challenging the FAA settlement with the city. That controversial deal
took many by surprise in January (including airport tenants and
advocacy groups), and while it does require the city to operate the
long-embattled airport through 2028, it also allows the city to
shorten the runway from 4,973 feet to 3,500 feet.

The latest AOPA legal action is effectively a request for recognition
by federal courts that will allow any airport user to enforce the
city’s various obligations under the agreement, establishing with
certainty that the agreement leaves intact a process through which the
public can seek relief should an airport host community fail to live
up to its responsibilities and obligations under federal law. AOPA has
asked the federal court to affirm that airport users will have legal
standing to oppose the city in the event Santa Monica violates any of
the terms of its agreement with the FAA in the years ahead. The ruling
AOPA seeks will affirm that the public has a well-established legal
interest in the safe and efficient functioning of the entire
transportation system, including public-use airports.

“The FAA and the city should not be allowed to bargain away this
public right, and AOPA believes its participation in this case will
help to prevent the loss of this ability to preserve our nation’s
airports,” said AOPA General Counsel Ken Mead.

The settlement between the FAA and Santa Monica city officials was a
surprise twist in a battle that has raged for decades, the FAA having
consistently sided with airport tenants and advocates against the
city’s repeated efforts to strangle and close the airport, which was
once a point of civic pride.

NBAA challenged the validity of the agreement in February, and asked
the D.C. Circuit to delay implementation of the settlement—and with
that, any attempt to alter what is almost certainly now America’s most
litigated runway—while the court reviews the challenge to the
agreement. The FAA in February asked the D.C. Circuit to dismiss the
challenge, putting the agency on the opposite side of airport tenants
and advocates.

By joining the D.C. Circuit case through the filing of an amicus
brief, AOPA is positioning all airport users to take action if the
city violates any provisions in the FAA agreement, including
stipulations that require the city to provide fuel and other aviation
services through 2028. Mead explained that the legal move also
positions AOPA to act if the federal government does not.

“We want enforcement rights to ensure the city lives up to its
obligations,” Mead said. “If the city does not live up to its
obligations and the FAA and Justice Department do not step up to
enforce this agreement, AOPA wants users to have the right to enforce
it in court.”

This latest legal move is part of the association’s long-term strategy
to build support for extending the airport’s life far beyond 2028.
That will require a coordinated effort by pilots, business leaders,
and advocacy groups to shift deeply entrenched opposition stemming
from a vocal minority of city residents who oppose the airport and
have elected politicians sympathetic to their cause.

“Santa Monica Airport is an economic engine for the city, but it also
touches people in ways they may not realize,” AOPA President Mark
Baker said in February. “From organ donation transportation to
emergency preparedness, the airport is an enormous asset, and over the
next 12 years we will ensure everyone knows what they will be giving
up if it goes away.”

With many election cycles to come, AOPA hopes that a combination of
education and persuasion will build recognition in the community of
all the benefits the airport provides.
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