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Santa Monica Mayor Asks Congressman's Help in FAA Stalemate

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

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


Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Jorge Casuso

October 9, 2015 -- Santa Monica Mayor Kevin McKeown asked the City's congressional representative this week to urge federal aviation officials to explain why they have failed to resolve a key issue that could pave the way for the City to gain control of its airport.

McKeown expressed his frustration to U.S. Representative Ted Lieu at the Federal Aviation Administrations “lassitude” in resolving the question of whether the agency's grant to the City for Airport improvements has expired.

City officials believe the grant obligations were fulfilled and discharged last year, effectively ending the 1984 settlement agreement that expired this July. FFA officials contend that the grant obligations continue until 2023.

The agency, however, has twice delayed making a decision on the issue, tying the hands of City officials eager to implement a ballot measure approved by voters last November that calls on the City Council to take control of City land currently occupied by the century-old airport.

“The FAA's lassitude in resolving the question of the expiration of the grant obligations is a substantial impediment to achieving relief for the community and progress on exercising control of the City's land,” McKeown wrote in the letter to Lieu dated October 6.

McKeown asked Lieu, who already has requested FAA officials to act, to once again intervene on the City's behalf.

“Since you wrote the agency, urging them to act, the FAA has provided only periodic notices unilaterally announcing an extension of its own time to render a decision,” McKeown wrote.

“The agency has not even deigned to provide Santa Monicans with any reasonable explanation for the delay. This leads inevitably to the conclusion that the agency is not proceeding in good faith.”

On both August 15 and September 15 the FAA failed to render a scheduled decision, instead sending City officials the same brief message stating that agency officials needed more time to make a determination. The latest message informed the City that FAA officials needed until October 15.

The August and September notes from Randall S. Fiertz, the FAA’s head of airport compliance and management analysis, said the extensions were “necessary and appropriate for a fair and complete determination in this case.”

McKeown reacted angrily to the latest letter, saying that the FAA had “unilaterally and inexcusably given itself yet another extension.”

FAA officials declined to comment on the reason for the delays. (“FAA Again Postpones Decision on Issue Relating to Santa Monica Airport Closure,” September 23, 2015)

In Tuesday's letter, McKeown asked Lieu to do everything possible to “ensure that the FAA acts in good faith and does its job by rendering a decision or provides this community with a credible explanation of why it cannot timely discharge its responsibilities.”


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