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Council to Begin Implementation of Santa Monica Airport Closure Deal  

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Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

February 27, 2017 -- The City Council on Tuesday is expected to approve measures to begin the process toward implementing the Santa Monica Airport (SMO) closure deal finalized with the federal government a month ago.

On the agenda is a resolution for City staff “to take all actions necessary and proper to ensure that SMO will cease to operate as an airport” at the end of 2028.

This includes that the City manager not “enter into any agreements with the [Federal Aviation Administration], or any other party, that may have the effect of requiring the City to continue to operate SMO” after 2028.

Also, the council will vote on a proposed contract with the team of AECOM and Aeroplex for up to nearly $900,000 to reduce the size of the runway from nearly 5,000 feet to 3,500 feet.

The runway reduction is a major feature of the deal and is expected to be completed this year. It will prevent larger aircraft from using SMO.

The announcement of the agreement in late January between Santa Monica and the FAA came as a surprise to many people because of decades of legal fights between the two entities that were expected to continue for many years (“City, FAA Agree to Close Santa Monica Airport in 2028,” January 28, 2017).

While many applauded the agreement, it did not have universal support. The council vote for approval was by the narrowest of possible margins -- 4 to 3.

The opposition said SMO was allowed to remain open for too long and a better deal was possible. Many anti-SMO activists agreed (“Reaction to Santa Monica Airport Closure Deal Mixed,” January 30, 2017).

Pro-airport groups are also opposed for the obvious reason that they do not want the facility to close at all.

A group led by the National Business Aviation Association and the Santa Monica Airport Association filed a legal challenge against the agreement earlier this month (“Aviation Groups Challenge Santa Monica Airport Closure Deal,” February 15, 2017).

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