Government Asks Santa Monica to Drop Lawsuit

Battle over the historic airport continues.

Santa Monica Airport (SMO)
Santa Monica Airport (SMO)
** Santa Monica Airport (SMO)**

On January 10 the U.S. government filed a motion on behalf of the FAA requesting that the city of Santa Monica drop the lawsuit filed in October in which it claimed full rights over the property currently used by Santa Monica Airport (SMO). The motion alleges that the government's interest in the property has been confirmed by several courts since the city first leased it to the FAA for military and manufacturing use in the 1940s, when Douglas Aircraft was based at the field and produced thousands of airplanes including the DC-series of commercial airplanes.

The government motion further states that any claims over the airport property should have been done under the Quiet Titles Act, a possibility that expired decades ago. In addition, the motion states the lawsuit is flawed because the government is not claiming ownership of the property since it is still being used as an airport, a stipulation for the property that was signed into a 1948 instrument of transfer.

In its lawsuit, the city of Santa Monica claimed it has never relinquished the title to the SMO property and should be free to repurpose it. The city would like to close the historic airport and turn it into a park or, at minimum, close certain parcels of the property, which could potentially shorten the runway significantly. In an attempt to limit the flight activities in and out of the airport, the city has already imposed landing fees on all aircraft, including those based at the airport.

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