Santa Monica Runway is Safe, For Now

Temporary restraining order halts runway shortening project.

A temporary restraining order halted the City of Santa Monica’s controversial plans to shorten to the runway at Santa Monica Airport.Pia Bergqvist

According to the Santa Monica Airport Association (SMAA), a temporary restraining order from the California District Court has put the brakes on the City of Santa Monica's plans to shorten the runway at the Santa Monica Airport. The city had planned to start reducing the available runway length from 4,973 to 3,500 feet today, with completion expected by the end of the year.

An SMAA press release stated Judge Lew found that “… action that by substantive law may not be taken without a public hearing and opportunity for the public to be heard.” The FAA and the City of Santa Monica drafted a “consent decree” behind closed doors earlier this year, agreeing to shorten the runway as soon as practicable and to close the airport in 2028.

Several organizations and companies have questioned the legality behind the agreement between the City of Santa Monica and the FAA. The U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit, is studying the issue based on a case brought forth by the NBAA. A decision is expected in mid-to-late 2018 and, should the city continue with the shortening of the runway before then, it would have to restore it to its prior condition.

SMO has been designated as “critical infrastructure” in the City’s own All Hazards Mitigation Plan. A 2011 study found that SMO generates around 1,500 jobs and at least $241 million annually in economic activity.