Shortening Santa Monica Runway Begins Next Week

The controversial process of shortening the runway at Santa Monica Airport is set to begin. William Short/Santa Monica Airport

Construction, or perhaps it should be called destruction efforts, aimed at reducing the usable length of Santa Monica airport’s 4,973-foot runway to 3,500 feet begin next Monday, October 9. Phase One work shuts down the airport during the overnight hours of 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. until just before Christmas. No work will be performed over the weekends.

Phase Two begins immediately following Phase One and runs through the rest of 2017. During Phase Two, the entire airport will be closed 24-hours a day. The purpose of the runway changes will, according to the city, reduce jet noise in the community by 44 percent.

A number of aviation groups have filed legal objections, not only to the shortening of the runway, but to the entire agreement conjured in January between the FAA and City of Santa Monica. The FAA fought back in May asking for the court to dismiss the case, a request the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia quickly denied.

In denying the FAA’s request, the court called for a full briefing surrounding the issues, although few details about the content of the briefing are known, except that a decision won’t be ready before the end of 2018. By then, the city will already have completed the work to shorten the runway making it unusable by most jet aircraft.

Should the NBAA and the other parties fighting back against the city eventually prevail, Santa Monica would be required to return the runway to its original length.

The Santa Monica Airport Association on Sunday added fuel to the fires of indignation over the partial shutdown when it reported that a consultant had been hired at a $205,000 annual salary to assist city management with the efforts to complete the project, a move SMAA calls a huge waste of local taxpayer money.

SMAA said, “Santa Monica council, with backing from powerful property developers and egged on by a small, vocal minority of airport adjacent homeowners who knowingly moved in next to a 100 year-old airport are misleading Santa Monica citizens and tax payers.”

Rob MarkAuthor
Rob Mark is an award-winning journalist, business jet pilot, flight instructor, and blogger.

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