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Santa Monica Airport Cleared for Runway Reduction
By Niki Cervantes
October 18, 2017 -- Work on reducing the Santa Monica Airport’s runway, an interim step on the path to eventually close SMO altogether, is slated to begin today following the all-clear from a judge who earlier granted a temporary restraining order.
The City announced Tuesday that U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Lew lifted the temporary restraining order he issued October 8 and denied a preliminary injunction sought by litigants trying to keep the airport open to aircraft into the future.
Work to rip up the runway is scheduled to begin today, said Airport Director Stelios Makrides.
He said Lew lifted the TRO, allowing the City to begin the project shortening SMO’s runway to 3,500 feet from its current 5,000 feet in length ("Temporary Restraining Order Halts Start of Runway Reduction at Santa Monica Airport," October 10, 2017).
“The court's order affirms that the legal complaints raised lack merit and means that the prior court order halting runway construction has been lifted,” he said.
Representatives of the two pilots suing SMO -- Kate Scott and James Babinski -– could not be reached for comment.
Their lawsuit alleges the City violated the Brown Act by not properly involving the public in the consent decree the City Council reached in executive session with the Federal Aviation Administration to close SMO by the end of 2028.
In the interim, the decree allows the shortening of the runway, which is expected to reduce a significant number of chartered jet flights.
Announced in January, the agreement was meant to bring peace between City, warring factions of neighbors who had battled decades to shutter SMO and the FAA, which contended it still had jurisdiction over the airport.
"The City is pleased with the court's decision, which allows it to fulfill its commitment to the community and the FAA,” Makrides said in an official notification to the community of the judge’s decision.
“We thank you for your patience. The City will renew work on the runway-shortening project, which it expects to commence within the next week,” he said.
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