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By Lookout Staff

October 20, 2020 -- The City scored two recent legal victories in Washington, D.C. courts that pave the way to shutter Santa Monica Airport after the end of 2028.

Earlier this month the federal district court in Washington granted a motion by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.a lawsuit filed by the National Business Aviation Association and local aviation interests challenging the agency's Consent Decree with the City.

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In its ruling October 9, the court held that the plaintiffs -- which included the Santa Monica Airport Association and several aviation businesses based at the airport -- had the opportunity to challenge the decree in Los Angeles Federal Court but failed to do so.

The ruling came after the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order August 24 denying a petition for review filed by Barry Rosen, a pilot and aircraft owner who used the Santa Monica airport.

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Rosen had filed an action in LA federal court in 2017 seeking to invalidate the decree approved in earlier that year to shutter the airport ("City, FAA Agree to Close Santa Monica Airport in 2028," January 28, 2017).

The lawsuit asked the court to invalidate the Consent Decree and Settlement Agreement and “reverse all construction” performed to the airport’s runway, which was shortened from nearly 5,000 to 3,500 feet.

The following year, the Court for the Central District of California dismissed the suit in its entirety ("U.S. District Court Dismisses Suit to Halt Santa Monica Airport Closure," July 12, 2018).

The court ruled that Rosen lacked the the necessary standing to assert his claims and denied him further opportunity to amend the complaint. The U.S. Supreme Court's decision marked an end to the litigation.

“These decisions reaffirm the continuing validity of the Consent Decree, which provides clear legal authority for Santa Monica to close the airport after December 31, 2028,” said Interim City Attorney George S. Cardona.

“We are pleased with the courts’ rejections of these challenges to the Consent Decree, and we will continue to defend against any similar challenges,” Cardona said.

The 2017 Consent Decree cleared the way for the City to reduce the length of the runway to stave off large jets, take over aviation-support services and shut down the 272-acre airport ("Santa Monica Airport Agreement Clears Runway of Mounting Litigation Costs," January 31, 2017).

It also ended years of ligation between the City and the FAA, which oversees the nation’s airports. As soon as the consent decree was announced, the aviation community stepped-up its fight to keep the century-old airport open.


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