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U.S. District Court Dismisses Suit to Halt Santa Monica Airport Closure

 

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By Jorge Casuso

July 12, 2018 -- An agreement between the City and Federal governments to shutter Santa Monica Airport by the end of 2028 has withstood another legal challenge, this one in U.S. District Court.

The Court for the Central District of California last Thursday dismissed in its entirety a case challenging the pact between the City and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved in January 2017 ("City, FAA Agree to Close Santa Monica Airport in 2028," January 28, 2017).

Originally filed last October and amended three times, the lawsuit asked the court to invalidate the Consent Decree and Settlement Agreement and “reverse all construction” performed to the airport’s runway, which was shortened from nearly 5,000 to 3,500 feet.

On Thursday, Judge Philip S. Gutierrez found plaintiff Barry Rosen, a pilot based at the airport, lacked the the necessary standing to assert his claims and denied him further opportunity to amend the complaint, City officials said.

“Despite frivolous legal challenges over the past year, the City kept on course to improve the lives of residents by shortening the runway and reducing large jets flying over our neighborhoods by over 80 percent,” Mayor Pro Tem Gleam Davis said in a statement Wednesday.

The case's first setback came three days after it was filed on October 23 when the Court denied Mr. Rosen’s injunction request on multiple grounds, City officials said.

Between November 2017 and March 2018 Rosen filed three amended versions of the lawsuit. The following month, the City filed a motion to dismiss the last amended complaint.

By then, work to shorten the runway had been completed, reducing jet traffic by approximately 80 percent ("Santa Monica Airport Starts Ten-Day Closure to Aircraft for Runway Shortening," December 15, 2017).

So far, the City's agreement with the FAA has withstood several challenges in federal appellate and district courts.

Last month, a U.S. Court of Appeals dismissed a case filed by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) challenging the City's right to close its century-old airport and shorten its runway ("Appeals Court Dismisses Challenge to Santa Monica Airport Decree But Case Continues," June 13, 2018).

In December U.S. District Court Judge Guitierrez dismissed a lawsuit that alleged the consent decree was illegal because the City violated California’s open meetings, or “sunshine,” law ("U.S. District Court Judge Dismisses Brown Act Lawsuit Challenging Closure of Santa Monica Airport," December 19, 2017.

In the lawsuit the plaintiffs alleged that “secret” meetings and closed-door discussions between the council, City lawyers and other staff and the FAA violated the state's open meetings act.

 


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