May 28, 2020 #1 Local News, Forum, Information and Event Source for Venice Beach, California.

FAA Meets with City of SM in Dispute

By Mark Smith

The last time the City of Santa Monica appeared in the D.C. Circuit Court was back in October of 2010 when the City was the Petitioner and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was the Respondent. On Monday, May 14, in the same courtroom, the City of Santa Monica and the FAA were odd bedfellows, sharing the same table as Respondents, defending their 2017 Consent Decree agreement.

Hanging on the walls of the D.C. Circuit courtroom are more than 30 oil painting portraits of D.C. Circuit judges (many of whom have become Supreme Court Justices) as a reminder, the only higher court than this District Court, is the Supreme Court.

Richard Simon was first, speaking for the Petitioners. He did not get far before the Judges asked why is this case was in their courtroom if another Judge had signed a Consent Decree. Simon pointed out, “this is the court, in our view, that handles most administrative law issues, this is a national issue, a national case, here we are.”

In February of 2017, aviation interest groups and aviation business filed a Petition to Review a FAA order, asking the D.C. Circuit Court to invalidate the Settlement Agreement between the FAA and the City of Santa Monica. The agreement, signed by City Manager Rick Cole and FAA Chief Counsel Reginald F. Govan, gave the City of Santa Monica permission to shorten the 4990 foot runway to 3500 feet and close the airport in December, 2028.

The Settlement Agreement was signed the last weekend of January 27th 2017 and then ratified a few days later as a Consent Decree by US District Court for Central California. An attorney familiar with Federal law said, “it is an unusual agreement, an unusual document, executed in an unusual manner.”

Back in 2010, the City of Santa Monica and several neighborhood groups were asking the court to uphold a City ordinance banning C and D category aircraft. This was an attempt to ban jets at the Santa Monica Airport. The City financed this unsuccessful legal action against the FAA with over $6 Million of funds from the airport fund. The current Settlement Agreement, succeeded where the C and D legal action failed. In December 2017, the City spent $3.2 million to shorten the runway. According to the Santa Monica Airport website, the new 3500 foot runway has reduced jet traffic by over 80 percent.

The Justice Department Attorney representing the FAA, Tyce R. Walters, pointed out, “this agreement (between the FAA and the City of Santa Monica) would have no force were it not entered as a Consent Decree.”

The practical question for the D.C. Circuit Court; does the FAA have the authority to relieve the City of Santa Monica from grant assurances and deed obligations to operate the airport in perpetuity?  Additional subjects address statutory requirements, including no public comment and no FAA documentation of its decision-making process.

When the Judges asked why this case should not go back to California, Deanne E. Maynard, the attorney for the City of Santa Monica from the law firm Morrison & Foerster, said, “just the notion that they would have to take an order from this court to the court in California shows what an odd procedure this is.”

The D.C. Circuit Court is expected to rule later this year.

Related Posts

Video: Expanding Outdoor Dining?

May 27, 2020

May 27, 2020

Local restaurants may soon be able to expand operations into parking lots and the sidewalk. Learn more in this video...

VNC Rejects Lincoln Apartments Proposal

May 26, 2020

May 26, 2020 1

Venice Community Housing project rejected unanimously By Toi Creel A 40-unit supportive housing project continues to be met with pushback...

County Cancels Junior Lifeguard Program

May 26, 2020

May 26, 2020 1

COVID-19 health concerns put program on hold for 2020 By Toi Creel The Los Angeles County Fire Department Junior Lifeguard...

Body Found on Venice Boardwalk

May 25, 2020

May 25, 2020 1

Man found deceased near paddle tennis courts Sunday By Sam Catanzaro A man was found dead on the Venice Beach...

Venice Beach Bike Path Reopens

May 21, 2020

May 21, 2020 1

Supervisors Janice Hahn, Sheila Kuehl announce opening in Facebook posts By Sam Catanzaro The beach bike path is now reopened,...

Bonin Proposes Housing Plan for Penmar Encampment

May 21, 2020

May 21, 2020 1

Councilmember calls encampment “a perfect example of the city’s failed policies” By Sam Catanzaro Councilmember Mike Bonin has submitted a...

When Will Los Angeles Fully Reopen?

May 19, 2020

May 19, 2020 1

County: 3/4 of unemployment claims are from those making less than $50,000 By Sam Catanzaro Los Angeles County officials are...

Video: Westside MLB Brothers Give Back

May 18, 2020

May 18, 2020 2

Two Westside brothers, both professional baseball players, are giving back to local first responders COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more in this...

Missing Venice Beach Swimmer Reportedly Former WWE Star

May 18, 2020

May 18, 2020 1

Lifeguards continue search for swimmer who went missing Sunday afternoon By Sam Catanzaro A missing swimmer who lifeguards continue to...

Venice Beach Swimmer Missing

May 18, 2020

May 18, 2020 1

10-year-old boy rescued, father still missing By Sam Catanzaro A 10-year-old swimmer was rescued by lifeguards at Venice Beach Sunday...

Fatal Venice Beach Boardwalk Stabbing

May 17, 2020

May 17, 2020 1

Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) investigating Saturday night stabbing By Sam Catanzaro A man was fatally stabbed Saturday night on...

Interview: Mike Bonin Talks Homelessness, COVID-19 and More

May 15, 2020

May 15, 2020 1

Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin answers questions from the community covering Venice homeless encampments, affordable housing, COVID-19 and more.