Federal court invalidates city’s jet ban at Santa Monica Airport

In an article in SMMirror.com by Hannah Heineman it was reported that on Jan. 21 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied Santa Monica’s appeal of a 2009 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) decision that the City could not ban Category C and D jets from using Santa Monica Airport (SMO) for safety reasons.

Santa Monica’s City Council enacted the jet ban on March 25, 2008 because the airport has no runway safety areas to act as buffer zones from nearby homes should an aircraft overrun the runway.

However, the FAA decided the City could not ban Category C and D jets in 2009 because the ordinance “violates Santa Monica’s obligations under grant assurance 22” and is unnecessary for safety. Between 1985 and 2003 the City of Santa Monica received $10.2 million in federal grant funds under the FAA’s Airport Improvement Program which required that the airport be available according to the grant agreement “for public use on fair and reasonable terms and without unjust discrimination to all types, kinds, and classes of aeronautical uses with the exception that the petitioner (Santa Monica) may prohibit certain types of aircraft if such action is necessary for the safe operation for the airport.”

The court upheld the 2009 decision in a 19-page ruling despite the City’s claim that the “FAA acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it concluded that the ordinance violates grant assurance 22 because the FAA ignored evidence on the record, acted inconsistently with its own policies and prior decisions, and failed to state a rational connection between the evidence and its conclusion.”

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