Judge grants restraining order on Santa Monica jet ban

April 29, 2008

Judge grants restraining order on Santa Monica jet ban

By AOPA ePublishing staff

Category C and D jets will be able to continue flying in and out of Santa Monica Municipal Airport, at least for now.

Federal District Court Judge George Wu issued a temporary restraining order on April 28, preventing the city of Santa Monica from enforcing a law that would ban the jets.

The ruling comes less than a week after the FAA issued a cease and desist order to the city of Santa Monica after the city tried to enforce the new law.

“This isn’t the end of the issue, but the court and the FAA are sending a very clear message to Santa Monica and other airports that arbitrary restrictions to federally funded airports will not be tolerated,” said Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of local airport advocacy. “AOPA is pleased that the FAA is taking a forceful stand to protect access to our nation’s airports.”

The FAA had issued the order on April 24, the same day the ban was to take effect and one day after the city refused to withdraw a letter warning pilots that they could face fines and even jail time for violating the ban. After receiving the order, city officials held meetings with the U.S. Attorney’s office and did not immediately enforce the ban.

In its request that the city withdraw the letter, the FAA pointed out that the legality of the ban is under review—Santa Monica Municipal is a federally obligated airport, meaning it must remain open and accessible. The FAA also warned the city that it would pursue a cease and desist order if the city did not withdraw its enforcement letter and accused the city of attempting to circumvent the agency’s authority as the final arbiter of aviation safety.

The Santa Monica city attorney responded by refusing to withdraw the letter, saying the city is acting prudently to protect public safety and claiming that the FAA has prejudged the case.

Timeline

1979: Santa Monica votes to ban jets larger than Category B-II from the airport.

1984: Santa Monica settles a federal lawsuit with the FAA, AOPA, and others resulting from the ban. As part of the settlement, the city agrees to keep the airport open and accessible through 2015.

July 2002: The Santa Monica Airport Commission recommends that the City Council create an ordinance banning Category C and D jets from the airport.

March 25, 2008: Santa Monica City Council unanimously passes an ordinance banning Category C and D jets from Santa Monica Municipal.

April 7, 2008: The city responds to an FAA order to show cause, defending the ban as a safety measure.

April 14, 2008: Santa Monica issues an enforcement letter, warning aircraft operators of the impending ban and threatening possible fines or jail time for violators.

April 21, 2008: The FAA sends a letter asking Santa Monica to withdraw its enforcement letter pending a review of the legality of the ban.

April 22, 2008: Santa Monica replies to the FAA, refusing to withdraw its enforcement letter.

April 24, 2008: Santa Monica moves to enforce the jet ban; FAA issues a cease and desist order.

Updated April 29, 2008