Santa Monica City Council Votes to Remove Tie Downs and Implement Short Term Leases

Santa Monica Airport

Lease terms at Santa Monica Airport were at the center of discussion during a contentious Santa Monica City Council meeting this week — a topic that drew large crowds of airport supporters and opponents alike.

About 125 people signed up to speak at the meeting and, as is often the case when airport business is on the agenda, there were about as many passionate voices on each side. With so many speakers, the meeting did not adjourn until after midnight; however, the councilmembers did come to an agreement.

While the businesses at the airport requested between five- and 10-year-long leases, the councilmembers voted unanimously to extend leases a maximum of three years for businesses located within what the city refers to as the General Aviation Parcel —the northeastern segment of the airport land. This includes one of the major FBOs at the airport, Atlantic Aviation. The lease costs will also be raised to market value beginning on July 1 and leases will include cancellation clauses in case the city is successful in closing the airport.

Within the "Non-Aviation Parcel," a segment of land on the southeast side that has already been partially repurposed with a soccer field, a playground and a dog park, only those businesses classified as cultural and restaurants were awarded lease terms up to three years. The city council also decided to eliminate the remaining tie down areas in that parcel of land.

Any businesses on the western parcel of land, including the area inhabited by companies that have operated at the airport for decades such as American Flyers and Kruger Aviation, an aircraft sales firm that also houses Kim Davidson Aviation — a major maintenance business and Cirrus service center — were restricted to month-to-month lease terms.

The implementation of short-term leases ties the hands of the tenants in terms of making improvements to the airport's facilities, many of which are in great need of renovation.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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