A controversial ordinance banning private jets with fast landing speeds at the Santa Monica Airport violates the city’s legal obligations, because the restriction “unjustly and unreasonably” discriminates against specific aircraft, according to a Federal Aviation Administration decision released May 14.
Based on evidence presented during a four-day hearing in March, Anthony N. Palladino, a senior FAA attorney and hearing officer, concluded that the ban violates the terms of $9.7 million in federal grants received by the airport and a 1984 agreement between the city and the federal government to give final authority over safety issues to the FAA, according to a Los Angeles Times story. Palladino also decided that the restriction does not comply with the federal Surplus Property Act, which provided for the airport’s return to the city under certain conditions after it was leased by the government during World War II.
The ban “is not consistent with the city’s obligation to make the airport available for public use . . . to all types, kinds and classes of aeronautical activity,” Palladino wrote in his decision, the Times reported.
Passed by the Santa Monica City Council in 2007, the ban prohibits private and corporate jets with landing speeds of 139 mph to 191 mph from using the airport, which sits on a plateau a few hundred feet from homes and businesses, the Times said. The ordinance has not gone into effect because of a cease-and-desist order issued by the FAA, and a preliminary injunction upheld by a federal appeals court.
As reported several times in General Aviation News since 2007, city officials contend the planes are at risk of running off the runway, although no jet ever has crashed at the airport.
Palladino’s decision may not be the end of it. His decision can be appealed to an FAA associate administrator for policy, who would have to decide the matter by July 8. The ruling would constitute the FAA’s final decision, but that can then be appealed in federal court.
To read the LA Times story: www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-jetban15-2009may15,0,736911.story