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Santa Monica Officials Call FAA “Frustrating”

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

By Jonathan Friedman
Staff Writer

July 16, 2015 -- A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) hearing last week in Washington D.C. on the fate of Santa Monica Airport left the attending City officials feeling frustrated with the agency, but satisfied they have a strong ally in Congressman Ted Lieu.

Mayor Kevin McKeown, who attended the hearing with other City officials and local anti-airport activists, said at the City Council meeting on Tuesday that the FAA remained in “listening-mode only” during the one-hour hearing in Washington.

Mayor Pro Tem Tony Vazquez said he was frustrated about “the non-dialogue” and Councilmember Sue Himmerlich said the FAA did not even appear to do much listening.

“It’s a frustrating process when you’re dealing with government administrators who seem to have no interest in listening to you,” she said.

The council members and City Attorney Marsha Moutrie said they were pleased with Lieu's comments about the future of the City-owned airport. He said, “it is game over for the jets in 2023,” according to McKeown’s recollection.

“To have an ally in Congress who’s willing to take an active role is very important, and I believe that Congressman Lieu made that comment both to hearten us and to chasten the FAA,” McKeown said.

Moutrie added, “I think we got assurances that [Lieu and his staff are] in it with us for the long run and that they will do everything they can” to help the City take control of the airport.

But she added that the activists spoke with several members of Congress and were given a “stark reminder” that the legislative body “does not offer a fast solution” to the City’s conflict with the FAA, and a “dose of reality” that airport closure will not come willingly.

“Congress members are quite clear that the FAA does not voluntarily agree to close airports that it considers important, and will not for us,” Moutrie said.

The airport was a topic during the council meeting because the agenda included approval of leases on the property, which the City owns.

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