Why the Fight for Santa Monica Is Far from Over

SMO operational at least until August 2023.

Santa Monica Airport

Santa Monica Airport

Santa Monica AirportFlying

Supporters of Santa Monica Municipal Airport in southern California won a substantial victory this month after the FAA ruled the airport remains under federal grant obligations until Aug. 27, 2023, contradicting the city of Santa Monica's assertion that its grant obligations expired last year. The FAA ruling issued on December 4 means the airport must remain open and operational at least until August 2023.

Still, don't think for one second that this fight is over. The city and airport opponents are planning an appeal of the FAA determination and exploring other ways they can ultimately shut down the airport. The dirty tricks politicians will play to get their way shouldn't surprise any of us.

I just watched such a battle play out in my own backyard in New Jersey. The town of Readington tried for more than a decade to use eminent domain to grab all the land surrounding family owned Solberg Airport. The town spent millions of dollars of taxpayer money in a battle that only ended when a judge in May excoriated the town council for its reckless behavior.

And we all remember what happened in Chicago when then-Mayor Richard Daley sent bulldozers in the middle of the night to carve big Xs on the runway at Meigs Field, closing the airport forever. Daley ordered the runway destroyed to make way for a park without giving the required 30-day notice to the FAA. Daley explained his decision by saying digging up the runways under the cover of darkness let the city avoid a lengthy court battle that it ultimately might lose. Talk about dirty tricks.

So while the FAA ruling on Santa Monica is unquestionably good news, now isn't the time to let down our collective guard. We should be ever watchful for the city's next move, ready to quickly counter whatever tricks airport opponents decide to play.