Santa Monica Lookout
|Major Santa Monica Airport Tenant Issued Eviction Notice||
By Jonathan Friedman
September 16, 2016 -- A major tenant responsible for most of the aviation operations at Santa Monica Airport (SMO) was issued a 30-day notice to vacate on Thursday, City officials said.
The eviction notice comes two days after the tenant, Atlantic Aviation, filed a challenge Tuesday with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that claims the City is acting in violation of federal law.
Americaan Flyers Flight School, another fixed-base operator (FBO) at the airport, also was issued a 30-day notice to vacate on Thursday, City officials said.
Atlantic Aviation's complaint attacks the City’s refusal to go into long-term leases with aviation tenants, which it says puts the company in a position that it could be evicted at any time.
The company also complained about new City restrictions, including on fuel sales.
"Atlantic Aviation caters to people who can afford to travel by luxurious private jet," said Nelson Hernandez, Senior Advisor to the City Manager on Airport Affairs.
In its complaint, Atlantic Aviation accused the City of launching a two-pronged attack on the century-old airport, which local officials want to close and turn into a park.
“The City’s objectives are now crystal clear: fight the FAA for ‘local control’ of SMO in the courts and, in the interim, undertake any measure at its disposal to severely curtail or discourage air traffic at SMO,” Atlantic Aviation attorney Tad Allan wrote in the complaint.
Allan asked that the FAA act fast on the matter “given the nature of the violations” and “the urgency with which corrective action is needed.”
This complaint is just the latest action in an ongoing battle between the City and aviation interests on the future of the airport property, which the City owns.
The City Council made a major move last month when it passed a resolution declaring the airport should be closed no later than 2018 and that the City take over fuel and aircraft storage, among other services, by the end of this year (“Santa Monica Council Votes for 2018 Airport Closure,” August 25, 2016).
The FAA quickly responded with a threat to sue the City.
A courthouse battle would be nothing new for two entities which have been involved in significant litigation against each other over various airport issues for many years.
Jorge Casuso contributed to this report
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