A project to shorten the runway of California’s Santa Monica Municipal Airport from about 5,000 feet to 3,500 feet—part of a secretly negotiated deal between the city and the FAA that may allow the city to close the airport in 2028, which AOPA opposes—is underway with completion expected Dec. 23, according to the airport director.
The runway resizing is moving ahead in two phases. The first phase began Oct. 23, with the work taking place nightly from 9 p.m. through 7 a.m., and airport closures in effect during those hours. The second phase is expected to begin Dec. 13, with work taking place day and night and the airport shut down completely until it reopens Dec. 23, with a 3,500-foot-long runway.
The project, run by engineering firm AECOM, had been under a federal court’s restraining order issued Oct. 8 in a lawsuit by two plaintiffs who questioned whether the settlement agreement complied with safety and environmental provisions of California’s public utility laws. The lawsuit is still pending.
AOPA, which has several thousand members who live within 50 miles of Santa Monica Municipal Airport, supported delaying the project, and filed a friend of the court brief noting the importance of pilots being made “fully aware of the implications of a shortened runway” and having “the opportunity to voice their views on what shortening the runway may mean to them.” The National Business Aviation Association also urged that the project be delayed.
On Oct. 16, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California “dissolved” the temporary restraining order, allowing the work—which has been estimated to cost the city $3.5 million—to proceed under the agreement announced in January between the city and the FAA.
When the unexpected deal was made public in the long-raging battle over the airport’s future, AOPA President Mark Baker asserted the association’s determination “to keep this airport permanently open and available” to general aviation users.
AOPA continues to encourage the Santa Monica Airport Association and all local pilots and citizens to work to elect city council members who understand the value and the need for the airport and who will support its continued existence and its continued contributions to the community for decades to come.