It has been many decades of hard work, and the end-result may soon be here: closure of this unneeded airport to eliminate health hazards, add parks, and better serve the local community.
Airport neighbors are severely impacted, mainly by charter jets and repetitious flight instruction in the airport traffic pattern. Noise of course, but also lead, carbon soot, and other hazardous pollutants. Neighbors and the City have been trying since at least the 1970s to regain control of their local airport. They have judiciously refused to accept any new grant offer for more than two decades, with the goal of timing out FAA’s right to manage and control from afar in Washington, DC, via ‘grant obligations’. That timed out last year… but then FAA arbitrarily reset the timeout date to 2023.
Following the decisive vote by city council on August 23rd, formal letters were sent to both airport FBOs, Atlantic Aviation and American Flyers. Below is a scrollable PDF copy of a news report by a pro-aviation online media outlet; predictably, it contains plenty of bias, and the reader comments illuminate that bias even further.
Click on the image below for a scrollable view; the PDF file may be downloaded.
The other notable recent news at KSMO was the filing AGAIN of yet another Part 16 complaint, this time by Atlantic Aviation. FAA’s true role, as evidenced by their history, is to cover for industry players; this includes their dog-and-pony-show complaint program called ‘Part 16’. This is strictly an administrative review process, and it is used to create an illusion of legitimacy for those complaints, which routinely are filed by legal teams representing one airport tenant or a small group of elite airport operators. The resultant FAA paperwork, and the expense in time and money FAA wastes handling these Part 16 complaints, is both phenomenal and absurd.
An ‘FBO‘ is a ‘fixed base operator’. At most small airports, there is typically one FBO and they thus hold a monopoly on the profits to be gained selling fuel, providing instruction, chartering planes and servicing aircraft. Consistent with politics today, it is not uncommon for an airport authority to be cronyistic and award the lucrative FBO rights to connected friends. For example, at Santa Monica, millions of dollars in lease revenues were effectively forfeited by the City and instead given as a massive subsidy to Atlantic, when the City authorized lucrative subleasing of hangars and non-aviation office space by Atlantic Aviation lease. The lease payments to the City pale in comparison to the sublease revenues paid to Atlantic. Here are images from Atlantic’s latest Part 16 complaint, offering those numbers:
Item#3 in the Atlantic Aviation Part 16 Complaint: Atlantic is receiving $222K monthly by subleasing; they pay under $17K monthly to the City.
Item#6 in the Atlantic Aviation Part 16 Complaint: Atlantic pays the City $17K monthly; the collect $222K monthly in sublease revenues. Note that fuel flowage fees are a pass-through… a common practice nationwide, where the FBO collects a few cents per gallon as a small tax, then forwards it to the airport authority.
With this transition, the City is intending to take on the expense (and reap the considerable revenues) from directly leasing properties they own, and from selling fuel at the airport. And, along with those benefits, City aims to slowly reassert the local control that never should have been taken away by FAA.
- 9/22/2016 – Letter to FAA, by a North Westdale resident. excerpt: “…only those wealthy enough to own and fly personal jet aircraft seem to be served by you and your office…” (1p)
- 9/19/2016 – Motion Asking FAA to Issue Cease & Desist Order (6p)
- 9/19/2016 – ‘City to Santa Monica FBOs: You Have 30 Days to Vacate’ .. (article by Matt Thurber, AINonline, 2p)
- 9/15/2016 – Notice to Vacate, issued to American Flyers (2p)
- 9/15/2016 – Notice to Vacate, issued to Atlantic Aviation (3p)
- 9/15/2016 – ‘Santa Monica evicts private airport operators’.. (article by KPCC SoCal Public Radio; includes link to audio)