Businesses leasing property at Santa Monica Municipal Airport will face higher rates and shorter lease terms after the Santa Monica City Council approved changes to more than 70 lease agreements on July 14.
The Spitfire Grill, Ruskin Theater, and Typhoon Restaurant were among the businesses receiving new leases. But the council took no action on proposed changes to other leases for some of the airport’s largest tenants, including Atlantic Aviation, American Flyers, and Gunnell Properties. Those leases, some of which proposed nearly 500 percent increases over current rates, were instead referred back to staff to study the potential economic impact of having the city take direct control of the subleased portions of those parcels. The city council also directed the staff to study and report back on a long list of airport-related items, including the possibility of taking over fuel sales and environmental regulations.
The lease discussions followed a March city council decision to give some tenants, including Atlantic Aviation and the Museum of Flying, three-year leases with one-year extensions at the discretion of the council while switching other leaseholders, including Krueger Aviation and American Flyers, to month-to-month leases. Originally the airport commission had proposed putting all airport businesses on month-to-month lease agreements.
The most recent contentious meeting came less than a week after Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Karen Bass (D-Calif.) hosted a meeting with the FAA, Santa Monica city officials, and Santa Monica residents to discuss the airport and its future.
The July 8 meeting in Washington, D.C., included both airport advocates and those urging closure of the field. AOPA had made a request to attend the meeting on behalf of members, but that request was denied by the congressional offices. Eduardo Angeles, the FAA associate administrator for airports, did attend the meeting but he was unable to participate in the conversation because of pending litigation between Santa Monica and the FAA.