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Santa Monica Takes Jet Dispute to DC Court  

By Lookout Staff

April 7, 2010 --A federal appellate court in the nation’s capital will decide whether Santa Monica can ban larger, faster jets from its airport. The City on Monday filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals - District of Columbia Circuit to challenge the FAA’s ruling that Santa Monica cannot ban the jets.

The Court will likely hear arguments in the fall and make a decision in November, Deputy City Attorney Ivan Campbell said.

The Santa Monica City Council in March 2008 passed an ordinance that banned C and D jet aircraft, which approach speeds up to 191 mph, because they could harm those living near the airport.

March 27, 2008 City Restricts Jets. The FAA immediately challenged the ordinance.

A federal judge ruled in the FAA’s favor to prevent the law from going into effect while the federal agency reviewed the ordinance in preparation for an administrative decision on it. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld this ruling.


After a four-day hearing last year, an FAA hearing officer said the Santa Monica ordinance violated a 1984 agreement between the FAA and the City, and that it “unjustly and unreasonably" discriminates against specific aircraft. May, 15 2005 FAA Finds Santa Monica Jet Ban Discriminatory.

His decision was upheld by the FAA in July 10, 2009 FAA Upholds Its Decision in Santa Monica Jet Ban.

The case is not going to a District Court first because federal law says challenges to FAA decisions go immediately to the appellate court. Santa Monica chose to take the case to Washington rather than the Ninth Circuit in California because the City Attorney’s Office believes there is a better chance for victory there.

“The District of Columbia Court is fairly used to receiving appeals from decisions of federal agencies,” Campbell said. “So they’re not easily intimidated by the fact that the federal government is before them. They are no stranger to them.”

FAA officials did not return calls for comment.


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