June 22, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Federal Judge Dismisses City’s Santa Monica Airport Lawsuit

A federal judge dismissed the City’s Santa Monica Airport lawsuit. (Parimal M. Rohit photo)

Santa Monica’s federal lawsuit seeking to gain ownership over the Santa Monica Airport (SMO) was dismissed, it was announced Thursday afternoon.

According to City Hall, Judge John F. Walter issued a 17-page ruling dismissing each of the City’s five causes of action against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Walter stated in his ruling Santa Monica was barred by the statute of limitations from suing the federal government for ownership of SMO. The City’s other causes of action alleging violations to the Due Process and Takings clauses were premature and not yet ready for judicial review.

City staff stated council members “will receive advice from outside counsel” at its next regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 25.

“The court’s ruling is being carefully evaluated by the legal team consisting of our outside litigation counsel, Morrison & Forrester, and in-house legal staff,” City Attorney Marsha Jones Moutrie stated. “Of course, we are disappointed.  But, there is likely much work to come; and the attorneys representing the City are already looking forward and focusing our energies on the City’s options.”

Earlier this year, the FAA filed a motion to dismiss with the federal court. The City of Santa Monica initiated its lawsuit against the federal government in October 2013. City Hall argued it should be given ownership of the airport once its agreement with the FAA and the federal government expires in July 2015.

Many local groups are closely monitoring how Santa Monica and the FAA will sort out the future of SMO. One group, Airport2Park.org, hopes the City will shut down the airport and convert it into a park. Some neighborhood groups state the airport poses health and safety risks. On the other side, airport activists stress the significance of having a functional airport in an urbanized region prone to earthquakes. Others point to the airport’s economic benefit to surrounding area. In some corners, there is an argument being made to keep the airport open in order to prevent the land from being developed with large mixed-use projects.

In-depth coverage of this ruling will be provided in next week’s issue of the Santa Monica Mirror.

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