Airport News

Wednesday, August 08, 2017

All,

Greetings! I hope everyone is in good health.
I have three important airport updates from last night’s City Council meeting to share.

Airport Runway Shortening Project

Last night the City Council awarded a construction contract to shorten the Santa Monica Airport runway. AECOM will be the construction contractor. The runway is currently 5,000 feet long; after the shortening, the runway will be 3,500 feet long. Shortening the runway is permitted by the Consent Decree between the U.S. Government and the City of Santa Monica. The Consent Decree was signed in late January. According to our national aviation consultants, there should be a 45% reduction in jet traffic after the runway is shorten. AECOM’s construction schedule has the project starting in early Fall and finishing in December. There will be a 7 to 14 day period of “hard closure” which will occur at the end of construction, December, 2017. During those days, the airport will be closed completely to all traffic regardless of the hour or purpose of the landing. In addition to hard closures, the airport will also be closed often from October through November from 9 pm to 7 am, Monday - Friday. Currently, the airport is open 24 hours a day for landing purposes.

City staff will be providing project and construction notices and updates during the entire project. At this time the exact construction details are not yet final but will be shortly. As soon as the construction schedule details are known, City staff will promptly send out notices and project updates. The attached media advisory includes a map of the runway after the shortening. 

Museum of Flying

The City Council also approved a new lease with the Santa Monica Museum of Flying. The lease is for 5 years with an additional 5 year option. The lease is for $1 per year and it is the City’s contribution to helping the Museum stay viable for the long-term in order to preserve Santa Monica’s aviation history. FAA regulations allows the City to offer deeply discounted lease terms to an aviation museum. Today, the Museum hosted an event to celebrate the partnership with the City of Santa Monica. Please see the attached media advisory for more details. 

Airport Leasing Guidelines

Last, the City Council approved two modifications to the Airport Leasing and Licensing Guidelines. One modification is to acknowledge the requirement of the consent decree that the City offer three-year terms, based on reasonable commercial standards, to aviation service providers. Additionally, the City Manager is now authorized to sign leases with terms of five years, or less, provided the City Manager determines the use is consistent with the leasing policy.

The last word--once again, be on the lookout for notices and updates from the City regarding the runway shortening construction project schedule.

Until next time.

Nelson Hernandez
Senior Advisor to the City Manager
  

Runway Shortening Media Advisory
Museum of Flying Media Advisory


Airport News

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

All,

Runway Shortening Update

The runway shortening project remains on schedule. The tentative date for project completion is December. On August 8, staff will recommend award of a construction contract. Assuming the contract is awarded, construction will occur from September through early December.

 

I have been asked, why would it take until December to complete the construction? First, let me say we agree--the faster and safer the better and that is why the project is on a fast track. However, shortening the runway consists of far more than a bucket of paint. Please refer to our staff reports of February 28, and May 24 for more detail. On August 8 when the construction contract is awarded you will find the complete construction description and I am confident you will have a better appreciation of the safety considerations, construction activities and schedule.

 

In addition to the time it takes to procure a public contract, we also held one airport community stakeholder meeting, a meeting with the Airport Commission, and a hearing with the City Council in order to select the preferred design option. As community activists, I am sure you understand the importance of public informational meetings. Lastly, the City is not the only public agency involved; there is also FAA. Hence, when all factors are considered: contracting (including appeal period), legal review, safety review, environmental analysis, community meetings, FAA coordination and review, new flight procedures (issued by FAA only every 56 days), and actual construction, the project has moved on an accelerated pace. 

NBAA Letter to City Regarding Leasing

Recently the City released Requests for Proposals to lease to properties at Santa Monica Airport. The NBAA has submitted a letter to the City regarding the RFP. Attached you will find NBAA’s letter and the City’s response.

Museum of Flying

The Museum of Flying is an important institution and a super cool place to visit. If you have not visited the Museum you really should consider it because the Museum is truly worth checking out. I am sure you will enjoy the experience and probably learn something new—I know I did. The Museum offers free tours for school children where they too can learn about aviation. It also can be rented out for private and community events. Preserving aviation history is important and that is why the City and the Museum of Flying are in lease negotiations to ensure the long-term viability of the Museum at Santa Monica Airport. We expect to execute a new lease with the Museum this summer.

EV Charging Company to Deploy Solar Charging Station at Santa Monica Airport

by Robin Whitlock 
EV charging company Envision Solar International, Inc., has announced that its EV ARC solar charging station has been selected for deployment at Santa Monica Municipal Airport. 

EV ARC

The City of Santa Monica, California will deploy Envision Solar’s EV ARC solar charging station at the Santa Monica Municipal Airport to provide emissions free EV charging and emergency power. The EV ARC was invented in California and is manufactured in Envision Solar’s San Diego facility by combat veterans, the disabled, minorities and other highly talented team members. It fits inside a parking space and generates enough clean solar electricity to power up to 225 miles of EV driving per day. The system’s solar electrical generation is enhanced by EnvisionTrak which causes the array to follow the sun, generating up to 25 percent more electricity than a fixed array.

 

The energy generated by the EV ARC is stored in its energy storage unit for charging day or night and to provide emergency power during a grid failure. The EV ARC requires no trenching, foundations or installation work of any kind and can be deployed in minutes while also being able to be moved to a new location with ease. 

 

“Putting in EV charging infrastructure is actually quite complex and this technology hopscotches most of the headaches” said James Conway, Senior Sustainability Analyst for the City of Santa Monica. “This investment marks an early and important demonstration of how distributed energy generation can work for us. It is modular and flexible and supports our mission to provide innovative, renewable, reliable, and convenient sources of energy to get us closer to our ambitious goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.”

 

Envision Solar CEO Desmond Wheatley added that airports have some of the busiest parking lots in the country and trenching and other construction work is generally even more complicated and expensive than in other locations.

Airport News

 

Friday, June 2, 2017

All,

I hope that my email finds you with great health.

As you all know by now, on May 24th, the City Council selected a runway design that will shorten the Santa Monica Airport runway from 4,973 feet to 3,500 feet as permitted under the consent decree with the Federal Government. When the Council voted to select the runway design option they also determined the project is categorically exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Project sponsors are required to file corresponding notices after taking the public vote. Accordingly, the City filed the Notice and for your view I have attached a copy of the Notice of Exemption. The Notice of Exemption was filed the day after the vote, May 25. We continue to proceed to a shorten runway!

Sincerely,
Nelson Hernandez
Senior Advisor to the City Manager

Notice of Exemption Filed


Airport News

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

All,

An update since my last communication regarding our progress to shorten the runway at Santa Monica Airport. This Thursday, June 1st, the runway will be closed from 11 pm until Friday, June 2nd, at 7 am. The runway will be closed to provide our consulting firm, AECOM, the opportunity to conduct boring tests that are required as part of the geotechnical analysis needed for the new proposed taxi ways. For us non-engineers, this means AECOM needs to drill holes, take samples, and test the soil conditions in order to construct the new taxiways appropriately.

Sincerely,
Nelson Hernandez
Senior Advisor to the City Manager


Airport News

Thursday, May 25, 2017

All,
Attached you will find a supplemental report that was given to the City Council tonight regarding the runway shortening project. As you will note, the supplemental report is a rebuttal to a letter submitted by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) regarding the runway shortening project. The NBAA’s letter is also attached.

Essentially, the 1985 Report cited by NBAA is not relevant to current conditions and staff has not relied upon it in finding the runway shortening project is categorically exempt.

First, this outdated Report refers to a study that did not consider runway shortening to a length of 3500 feet. According to the 1985 Report, the consultant studied only the noise effects of a displaced threshold at 500 feet for landings on Runway 21 on the existing 5000 foot runway. The runway shortening project before the City Council relocates the runway thresholds, it does not allow for displaced thresholds. The two projects are not comparable. In addition, there is no data or information identifying where the noise monitoring for the 1985 Report occurred. Nor is the speculative assumption in the 1985 Report that a threshold displacement could have a detrimental impact west of the runway supported by any evidence. In fact, the 1985 Report clearly states the opposite: that noise levels were expected to decrease but to a degree that would be insignificant and less than the decibel level necessary to be noticeable to the human ear. Finally, this antiquated study was conducted over 30 years ago, and was based on a completely different aircraft fleet mix that differs from the aircraft fleet mix that would exist under the proposed runway-shortening project.

Second, the City’s consultants have prepared studies made part of the record before the City Council that demonstrate that reducing the runway to an operational length of 3,500 feet will not have a significant adverse impact to the surrounding communities, but rather would offer significant environmental benefits.


Nelson Hernandez
Senior Advisor to the City Manager
Supplemental Report to City Council
NBAA Letter to Mayor of Santa Monica and City Council - 05 19 17


Airport News

Thursday, May 25, 2017

All,
Tonight the City Council voted to shorten the Santa Monica Airport runway safely. The new shorter and safer runway meets all FAA safety standards and eliminates an estimated 44% of jet operations. For more details please check out the attached media advisory.

The second document is an conceptual image of the selected design. The new runway will be shorten by 1,500 feet; approximately 750 feet from each end of the runway. To view the design download the document labeled SMO Centered Option.

Sincerely,


Nelson Hernandez
Senior Advisor to the City Manager
SMO Centered Option
SMO Runway Shortening Media Advisory


Airport News

Friday, May 5, 2017 

 All,

Good news to report! Yesterday the DC Circuit Court denied the NBAA’s request for an injunction regarding the consent decree between the City and the U.S. Government. The injunction would have blocked implementation of the consent decree. I have attached a statement from Mayor Ted Winterer.

Sincerely,
Nelson Hernandez
Senior Advisor to the City Manager

DC Circuit Court Denies NBAA Injunction Request


Airport News

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 

All,

Today, City staff conducted an Airport Stakeholder Community meeting to discuss the two design options for shortening the runway at Santa Monica Airport. As you all know, the Consent Decree signed by the City of Santa Monica and the U.S. Government, permits the City to shorten the runway from its current 5,000 foot length to 3,500 feet. Although I saw many familiar faces among the 120+/- people in the audience today, I know not every was unable to attend. Hence, for those who were unable to attend today, please find attached a copy of the presentation materials for your information. 

On May 2, the Airport Commission will hear essentially the same presentation. The Airport Commission will take and consider public testimony regarding the design options prior to making its recommendation to the City Council. You are all welcome and encouraged to attend the Airport Commission meeting in order to express your preferred design option. The meeting will be at: 1685 Main Street, Santa Monica, City Hall, City Council Chambers. The meeting starts at 7:00 pm.

The City Council is tentatively scheduled to consider and select a design option on May 24th. Of course the City Council meeting will be held at City Hall. More information regarding that meeting as we get closer to the date.

Sincerely,

Nelson Hernandez
Senior Advisor to the City Manager

April 25th 2017 Stakeholder Meeting Presentation


Airport News

Friday, April 19, 2017 

All,
Time for an update. Below are three important news highlights.

RUNWAY SHORTENING PROJECT
On February 28th, the City awarded a contract to AE COM to design and build the new shorten runway. AE COM is a well know architectural and engineering firm. The preliminary project schedule is as follows:
  • Community Stakeholder Meeting. April 25th, 10: 00 – Noon, at the Air Museum located at 3100 Donald Douglas Loop South. The purpose of the stakeholder community meeting is to discuss the runway shortening options. See the attached notice for more information. April 17 2017 Stakeholder Community Meeting Notice
  • Airport Commission Meeting. May 2nd , 7:00 pm; Santa Monica City Hall, 1685 Main Street. The Airport Commission will take public testimony regarding the runway shortening design options and make a recommendation to the City Council.
  • City Council Meeting. Date to be determined. Santa Monica City Hall, 1685 Main Street. The City Council will be taking public testimony regarding the runway shortening project design options and making a final decision.
  • August. The City Council will award a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) contract to construct the runway shortening project.
  • September – December: Construction of the shorten runway and final FAA approval of new flight operation procedures.
  • Everyone is welcome to attend all the aforementioned public meetings.
AMERICAN FLYERS
By now, you probably know American Flyers voluntarily decided to vacate their leased premises effective April 15th. In addition to their flight school, American Flyers operated a self-service fuel station. The fuel facility, e.g. tanks, pipes, etc. is owed by the City. Under terms of the Consent Decree, the City must either provide the fuel itself or permit a private vendor to do so on reasonable commercial terms. Hence, the City made arrangements through a third party, Aeroplex, to continue fuel availability at the former American Flyers’ premises. Aeroplex assumed the responsibility effective April 16th, without interruption in service.
The voluntary departure of American Flyers has positive financial implications for the City and you the tax payers. Under the terms of their 2006 lease, American Flyers was able to sub-lease City property, e.g. hangars, office space and tie-down spaces. With their departure all leasing revenue from their former premises will be retained by the City. This is critically important because the Airport owes the City over $10M. Hence, beginning April 16th the Airport will retain those earning thus allowing it to repay the City and putting the Airport on the path to financial self-sufficiency.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS REGARDING THE CITY OF SANTA MONICA AND U.S. GOVERNMENT CONSENT DECREE
Q. Who are the parties to the consent decree?
A. There are only two parties to the consent decree, the U.S. Government, on behalf of the Federal Aviation Administration, and the City of Santa Monica.

Q. What affect does the consent decree have on the two federal cases, e.g. City of Santa Monica v United States of America regarding title to the airport property and City of Santa Monica v United States of America regarding compliance with FAA grant assurance obligations?
A. The consent decree ends litigation of those two cases. In other words, both parties agreed to end the law suits. Essentially, the federal government agreed to completely relinquish all rights to any claims it may have had regarding the airport effective December 31st, 2028. The federal government also agreed to permit the City to shorten the run by 1,500 feet to 3,500 feet. In return the City agreed to operate the Airport in compliance with federal aviation regulations until 2028. 

Q. If one of the Parties alleges a breach of the terms or conditions of this Agreement what is the remedy for resolving the dispute?
A. The exclusive venue for remedying such a breach shall be the court having jurisdiction over the consent decree—the U.S District Court of Central California.

Q. What is the length of the runway now and what will it be after it is shorten?
A. The existing runway length is 4,937. The consent decree permits the City to shorten the Airport’s runway to an operational runway length of 3,500 feet. The 3,500 foot distance shall not include the runway safety areas that shall be constructed and maintained at both runway ends. The runway safety area may include an engineered materials arrestor system (EMAS) at the City’s option.

Q. Who pays to shorten the runway?
A. The City of Santa Monica. 

Q. How much will it costs to shorten the runway?
A. The price to shorten the runway has yet to be determined, in part, because the price depends on the design option selected by the City Council. The final price will be known when the City Council awards the construction contract. 

Q. For how long is the City required to operate the airport?
A. The City agrees to operate the Airport until December 31, 2028, unless an earlier date is agreed to by the Parties.

Q. Can the City close the Airport on December 31st 2028?
A. If the City does not enter into future agreements with the FAA that continue to require the City to operate the Airport after December 31, 2028, the City may, in its sole discretion at any time on or after January 1, 2029, cease to operate the Airport as an airport and may close the Airport to all aeronautical use forever.

Q. Does the City have the right to provide aeronautical services, known as FBO services?
A. Yes the City has the ability to exercise its proprietary exclusive right to provide aeronautical services, or FBO services, at the Airport. However, the right to provide FBO services on a proprietary exclusive basis cannot be exercised until after the runway has been shorten to 3,500 feet.

Q. Is the City obligated to offer three-year leases to private companies that provide aeronautical services?
A. Yes. However, if the City elects to provide the FBO services the City may terminate the lease with a six month notice.

Airport News

Friday, April 07, 2017

All,

Attached please find statements from the City of Santa Monica and Aeroplex.  As has been previously reported, American Flyers will be vacating Santa Monica Airport effective April 15.  American Flyers was responsible for operating the self-service fuel facility at Santa Monica Airport.  With the departure of American Flyers on April 15th, effective April 16, Aeroplex will assume the responsibility of operating the self-service fuel station.  We do not expect a break in service. 

Sincerely,

Nelson Hernandez
04.07.2017 Aeroplex Agreement Media Alert
04.07.2017 Aeroplex Statement



February 2, 2017

 

Quote of the week 

“This a historic day for Santa Monica. The FAA has finally and categorically said that we can do whatever we want with our land at the end of 2028. This is a windfall for the residents.”

Mayor Ted Winterer

 


Honorable Mayor, Councilmembers & Fellow City Staff: 


Saturday’s City Council retreat on the topic of aligning our Wellbeing Index with city operations, performance management and the budget process took an unexpected turn.  The night before, Interim City Attorney Joe Lawrence was notified by the Federal Aviation Administration’s Chief Counsel Reggie Govan that the new White House Counsel had given a green light to a tentative agreement to enter into a Consent Decree with the City of Santa Monica.  The Council had listed airport litigation as a closed session item, both to discuss seeking an injunction against a new charter operation threatening to begin daily flights without a permit and to keep open the possibility that the Federal government might proceed forward with an opportunity to settle decades of litigation over the airport’s future.

 

 


The Council had already discussed the terms of the proposed Consent Decree at its closed session at the Council meeting earlier in the week.  As with any compromise between antagonists so firmly entrenched, there were clearly pros and cons to settling out of court.  On the positive side, both sides avoided years of costly, time-consuming litigation with uncertain outcomes.  For Santa Monica, there will be nearly immediate relief from the steady rise in jet traffic.  Shortening the airport runway from 4973 to 3500 feet as soon as practical will eliminate nearly all the largest jets that currently use it and should reduce overall jet traffic by at least 40%.  Most important, the FAA finally conceded that the City has the right to close the airport to aviation “forever” after December 31, 2028.  On the other side, the City will have to enter into leases with aviation services and users and keep the airport in operation for eleven more years.  The majority felt, on balance, it was a huge step forward.  The minority felt it fell short of what we might achieve in court or through a future settlement.

Reaction to the announcement on Saturday has run along expected lines.  The most vociferous airport opponents have denounced the Consent Decree – as have local and national airport supporters, including their allies in Congress.  Airport 2 Park leaders have cautiously endorsed it, recognizing the upside in getting certainty for closing the airport (although even that has been called into question despite the Council’s unanimous pursuit of airport closure due to the possibility that the City might later change its course and decide to keep the airport open past 2028.)  Most Southern Californians were frankly shocked, having assumed that the battle between a small city and a giant Federal agency would go on indefinitely. 

What happens now?  The Federal Judge has approved the Consent Decree so it is now binding on both us and the FAA.  The charter service that was set to start flying Monday has suspended operations.  They are refunding ticket sales and discussing with the City their withdrawal since the planes they planned to use can’t operate on a shortened runway.  On February 28, staff will bring to the Council authorization to hire a firm to complete the runway shortening design, along with a schedule for construction.  There will also be a resolution to provide formal notice to the FAA and the Court that the City will close the airport at midnight on December 31, 2028.  The City will continue its progress toward establishing its own “Fixed Base Operation” to replace private companies that provide fuel and tow services at the airport and will enter into discussions with aviation users about leases or their departure from the airport.  Plans will move forward for eventual conversion of the 227 acre site to the major park that will link present-day Clover Park on the north to Airport Park on the south to form a magnificent natural, recreational, cultural and educational resource for Santa Monica and the Westside.

Reclaiming local control of Santa Monica Airport is one of the Council’s five Strategic Goals.  It has claimed a huge amount of time and resources – and we have a lot of work yet to do.  The Consent Decree, however, stops the threatened escalation in jet traffic in its tracks and sets a firm course for the future development of the park.  It’s a game-changer, not only for local control at the Airport, but for Santa Monica.

 



Airport News

Friday, January 27, 2017

All,
Please see attached the City’s opening brief in the federal case concerning the 1948 Instrument of Transfer (IOT). As you probably know by now, the land currently occupied by the airport has been under exclusive ownership of the City since 1926. In 1941 the City lease the airport property to the federal government in order to support the World War II efforts. True patriots! The core of the dispute is whether the 1948 IOT (the document by which the federal government transferred the property back to the City after the war ended) requires the City to maintain the airport in perpetuity. The outcome of the case will determine whether the City must continue to operate the airport in perpetuity or whether the City can reclaim what has belong to the City for nearly 100 years. The case is scheduled for federal trial, in the Ninth District, August 2017. Happy reading.

Nelson Hernandez
Senior Advisor to the City Manager
City of Santa Monica’s Opening Brief for the Trial Scheduled for August 2017


Airport News

Friday, January 27, 2017

All,
Please find attached a letter sent to the FAA. The purpose of the letter is to correct the record regarding whether or not the City chose to oppose the action by FAA regarding the eviction of Atlantic Aviation and American Flyers. The letter is very clear—we did oppose. Our letter sets the record straight.

Sincerely,

Nelson Hernandez
Senior Advisor to the City Manager
City Corrects FAA Record Regarding Eviction of American Flyers and Atlantic Aviation


Airport News

Friday, January 27, 2017

All,
Attached is the City’s response to the Interim Cease and Desist Order by FAA. The response is well summarized in the first three pages where it reads as follows:

The City of Santa Monica (the “City” or “Santa Monica”) hereby submits this response and request to vacate the FAA’s Interim Cease and Desist Order dated December 12, 2016 (the “Order”).1 The Order should be vacated because the City is not bound by any federal obligations—grant assurance or otherwise—and, even if it were, the FAA lacks the authority to issue the Order. FAA exceeded its authority and deprived the City of due process by failing to observe procedures required by the very statute and regulation upon which the Order purports to be based, 49 U.S.C. § 46105 and 14 C.F.R § 16.109. Those laws and others make clear that, in the absence of a safety emergency, FAA may not issue a Cease and Desist Order without first providing notice and an opportunity for a hearing. See also 49 U.S.C. § 46101(a)(4). No safety emergency exists here, as the FAA tacitly concedes in its Order, yet the FAA did not provide the City with a hearing. This deprivation of the City’s due process renders the Order illegal, unenforceable, and void.

The Order must also be vacated because the FAA has not met its burden of showing irreparable harm. The FAA has recognized that an Interim Cease and Desist Order, like a preliminary injunction, is “extraordinary relief [that] is appropriate only in extraordinary circumstances.” Pro-Flight Aviation, Inc. v. City of Renton, FAA Docket No. 16-15-03, Order at 2 (Sept. 1, 2015). Thus, for such an order to issue, the burden is on the FAA to show, among other preliminary-injunction factors, that irreparable harm will be suffered in the absence of the Order. Id. 2–3. The FAA has not, and cannot, make such a showing. To the contrary, the Order purports to maintain the status quo, even though the City has already (numerous times) committed to the FAA that it will not “act to remove” the FBOs until such time as the City is prepared to commence lawful proprietary exclusive FBO services. (Order at 1, 5.) The City’s assurances render the Order unnecessary, and rebut any allegation of irreparable harm. Moreover, it is well established that purely economic harms, like those at issue here, are not irreparable.

The Order suffers several other procedural and substantive deficiencies which necessitate its vacatur. Procedurally, it purports to raise new issues as “under investigation” in the NOI when, in fact, those issues have never been part of the FAA’s investigation in this proceeding. Substantively, it ignores the well-founded positions taken by the City in its NOI response, contains multiple factual inaccuracies, and mischaracterizes the City’s actions. The Order should be vacated.

I have also attached a letter from Los Angeles City Councilmember Mike Bonin wherein he supports the City of Santa Monica. Once again a big thanks to Councilmember Bonin.

In addition to the documents regarding the FAA’s Interim Cease and Desist Order, I also want to share information regarding an upcoming protest on February 4th. Please see the third attachment, labeled: February 4 SMO Protest Flyer. This protest is being organized by a number of private citizen groups, including Martin Rubin, Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution, as reflected in the poster. Their event is scheduled for Saturday, February 4, at 11am and the location will be, Donald Douglas Loop North, Santa Monica Business Park, between 2950 31st and 2951 28th Streets, . There will be free parking. The protest is not endorsed or supported by the City. Information regarding the protest is attached. Speakers at the protest will include Congressman Ted Lieu, Santa Monica Mayor Ted Winterer, and Los Angeles City Council Member Mike Bonin.

Neil Carrey, President of the Santa Monica Airport2Park Foundation, issued the following statement: “In a time when operations at Santa Monica Airport should be winding down, and two years after Santa Monica voters decisively rejected an aviation industry plan to keep the airport operating indefinitely while emphatically supporting plans to turn the airport into a park, it’s outrageous that aviation tenants operating on month-to-month leases think they can expand their operations to commercial flights.”

Have a great weekend.

Sincerely,

Nelson Hernandez
Senior Advisor to the City Manager
City of Santa Monica Response to Interim Cease and Desist Order
LA Councilmember Bonin Re Cease Desist Order
February 4 SMO Protest Flyer


 

Airport News

Wednesday, January 12, 2017

All,


On December 16 JetSuiteX filed an application for a Commercial Operator Permit (COP) with the City of Santa Monica. According to JetSuiteX’s application, they propose to conduct a schedule airline based out of SMO. The Airport Director, Stelios Makrides, has determined their application cannot be processed at this time because the paperwork submitted was incomplete. Attached please find Mr. Makrides’ letter to JetSuiteX.

Sincerely,

Nelson Hernandez
Senior Advisor to the City Manager

City's Response to JetSuiteX's COP Application
Commerical Operting Permit Application


Airport News

Monday, January 09, 2017

All,


Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a safe holiday. Time to go back to work.

Attached is a letter from Congressman Ted Lieu. As you will note, the letter supports the City in our effort to establish a public Fixed Based Operation (FBO) service. I strongly suggest you read his letter because it is sharp and clearly points out the errors of the FAA. We can always count on Congressman Lieu, and that is greatly appreciated.

Today we authorized Aeroplex, the City’s airport property management/leasing agent, to offer Standstill Agreements to the occupants located at 3100 Donald Douglass Loop North; formerly known as the Gunnell building. We authorized Aeroplex to offer the Standstill Agreements in order to provide greater legal protection to the City, as well as operational and financial stability to the airport. The Standstill Agreements start now and expire on May 31st . Our two federal court cases go to trial later this year; hence, offering Standstill Agreements with a termination date of May 31st, does not materially affect our landlord rights to evict aviation users, when we prevail in federal court.

I should also mention we have narrowed the list of candidates for FBO manager. A hiring decision should be forthcoming very soon.

Last week the airport security enhancement consultant, Birdi Associates, commences work on the project. The first phase is a security analysis, both physical and passenger, of the airport. The plan should be completed by June. Implementation of the security plan begins shortly thereafter.

Sincerely,

Nelson Hernandez
Senior Advisor to the City Manager
January 6, 2017 Letter from Congressmen Ted Lieu


Airport News

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

All,


Hope everyone is having a safe holiday season.

Attached you will find an amicus brief filed yesterday in the 9th Circuit Court. An amicus brief is a legal document filed in appellate court cases by non-litigants with a strong interest in the subject matter. It advises the court of relevant, additional information or arguments that the court might wish to consider. In this particular case, the amicus brief was filed by the Airports Council International (ACI) on behalf of that organization’s 181 members who operate over 340 airports.

The Airports Council filed the amicus brief in connection with our Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grant case. We are pleased the brief supports the City’s positions. For instance, the amicus brief argues the 2003 amendment to the 1994 AIP grant was not a new grant; an amendment to a grant does not require additional time; and FAA cannot impose retroactive obligations. The FAA disagrees and asserts the 1994 grant obligations extend until 2023. In 2015 FAA ruled in their own favor (no surprise) that the obligations expire in 2023 because of the very minor grant amendment it approved in 2003. Grant amendments involving less than 15% of the original dollar amount are permitted by law and regulation without triggering additional time obligations. The City and ACI concur the grant obligations expired in 2014 because City received an AIP grant in 1994 and complied with the 20-year obligation.

The brief is very well presented and shows the AIP recipient community supports the City’s position, not the FAA. We hope the Court gives the amicus brief the serious consideration it merits and expect that the Court will do so.

Sincerely,
Nelson Hernandez

December 23, 2016 Brief of Amicus Curiae Airports Council International - North America


 

Airport News

Thursday, December 14, 2016

All,

You may find reading the link below interesting.  It is the opinion of a former FAA official.  No endorsement of his analysis by the City is implied.

Nelson

http://aireform.com/ksmo-are-faa-attorneys-bluffing-on-their-cease-desist-order/


Airport News

Thursday, December 14, 2016

All,
In response to the FAA Cease and Desist order given to the City today, Mayor Vazquez said: “While we are disappointed (but not surprised) that the FAA has decided to issue this interim order on the pending evictions of Atlantic and American Flyer, we remain committed to replacing private fixed-based operations with public services. The City of Santa Monica owns the airport, the fuel tanks, the facilities and the hangers. The FAA has consistently recognized the rights of airport owners to exercise an exclusive right to provide services and we are working in good faith to do just that.”

Sincerely,

Nelson Hernandez
Senior Advisor to the City Manager


Airport News

Thursday, December 01, 2016

All,

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I wanted to provide a progress update on our work to establish a city-owned Fixed Base Operation (FBO at Santa Monica Airport).

An FBO provides aeronautical services, such as towing of planes, fueling, hangar space, etc. Currently, Atlantic Aviation and American Flyers are the private FBOs at our airport. They are each collecting a great deal of revenue for providing FBO services and subleasing city property. These profits should benefit the city, not a multi-national mega-corporation and an out-of-state corporation. They are using our land, our buildings our hangars and our fuel tanks to profit.

For this reason, our Council decided to take action. On August 23, Council directed the City Manager to establish a city-owned FBO by December 31, or as soon as practicable. The revenue generated by a city-owned FBO can help to repay the $10M+ debt the Airport Fund owes the City. In the last two years, Fort Wayne, Greenville and Chattanooga created their own City FBO for similar financial reasons.


Since August, we have been busy making our future City-owned FBO happen and I want to share a few highlights:

  • Federal law requires that the city-owned FBO is staff with city employees. On October 25 at the mid-year budget hearing, Council authorized the creation of up to 25 new staff positions for the FBO. We are in the midst of recruitment for the FBO Manager. This is a critical position and we aim to select the most qualified person for the job. To ensure this, we have assembled a panel of experts to conduct interviews in December. 
  • Also in December, we will ask the City Personnel Board to review and approve job classifications for the other FBO positions. As soon as this is complete, we will post the remaining positions. Of course, I will send out an announcement just as I did for the FBO manager. 
  • A FBO is more than personnel and we have been busy on the equipment side as well. We expect to release a Request for Proposals (RFP) for FBO equipment before the end of the year. The RFP includes the purchase and/or lease of the necessary equipment and fuel required to operate the FBO.

There are many other tasks to complete, i.e. insurance, uniforms, etc. We are making excellent progress and will continue to forge forward until the work is complete.

By the way, the City will need to give the FBO an operating name. If you have any suggestions, feel free to submit them to me. So far, we are considering:

  1. Cloverfield Air Service; 
  2. Santa Monica Air Service; and 
  3. Airport Park Aviation.

As always, if you have any questions about the progress of establishing our FBO, or any of our work at SMO, do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,
Nelson Hernandez
Senior Advisor to the City Manager


Airport News

Thursday, December 01, 2016

All,

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. As you probably remember, on August 23rd, the City Council directed the City Manager to establish a city-owned Fixed Based Operation (FBO) service at the Airport by December 31st, or as soon as practicable. Since August we have been busy making our future City-owned FBO happen and I want to share a few highlights.

As a refresher, an FBO, whether public or private, is an entity that provides aeronautical services, such as towing of planes, fueling, hangar space, etc. The City will establish our own FBO in order to generate the revenues needed by the Airport to repay the City the $10M + the Airport Fund owes the City. The cities of Fort Wayne, Greenville and Chattanooga all created their own City FBO for similar financial reasons. In our particular circumstance, revenue generated by the two private FBOs (American Flyers and Atlantic Aviation) flow in the pockets of a foreign multi-national mega-corporation and an out-of-state corporation. These two corporations are enriching themselves at the expense of the public. They don’t’ owe the land, the buildings, the hangars, or the fuel tanks at the Airport. They simply provide a service using our assets and the divert the revenue from the public.

We started by asking the Council to authorized the creation of up to 25 new positions in order to properly staff the FBO with City personnel as is required by federal law. Council approved the request on October 25 as part of the mid-year budget adjustment. The new FBO positions include: an FBO Manager, FBO Supervisors, FBO “Line Workers”, Customer Service, Administrative Assistant, and Mechanic. We quickly followed by posting the FBO Manager job vacancy announcement on the City’s web site and on Indeed.com. We received numerous applications. At this time, we have shorten the list of candidates to the five most qualified. FBO Manager is a critical position and to ensure we select the most qualified candidate outside experts will participate on the selection panel. Interviews for the FBO Manager are expected in early to mid-December. Additionally, on December 8, City staff will recommend that the Personnel Board approve the corresponding job classifications for the remaining 24 FBO positions. When the jobs are posted as available, I will send out an announcement just as I did for the FBO manager.

Of course, an FBO is more than personnel and we have been busy on the equipment side as well. We expect to release a Request for Proposals (RFP) for FBO equipment by mid-December. The purpose of the RFP is to purchase and/or lease the required equipment and fuel needed to operate the FBO. Clearly there is a lot are numerous other related tasks to complete, i.e. insurance, uniforms, etc. but the point is that we are making excellent progress.

By the way, the City will need to give the FBO an operating name. Free feel to submit your suggestions. Thus far, we are considering: 1) Cloverfield Air Service; 2) Santa Monica Air Service; and 3) Airport Park Aviation.
As usual feel free to contact me.
Sincerely,
Nelson Hernandez
Senior Advisor to the City Manager


Airport News

Thursday, December 01, 2016

All,

Atlantic Aviation and the City of Santa Monica, all agreed to continue the hearing originally scheduled for today until January 3rd. The purpose of the hearing was to give the judge the opportunity to determine whether to issue a preliminary injunction against the City. The preliminary injunction would have stopped the City from proceeding with its eviction actions against American Flyers and Atlantic Aviation. No preliminary injunction was issued and the case will be continued until January 3rd. American Flyers and Atlantic Aviation, two private Fixed Based Operators (FBOs) at the Airport, provide aeronautical services at Santa Monica Airport.

As I explained in previous posts, the City is in the process of exercising its federal rights and create our own City FBO. An FBO provides aeronautical services, such as towing of planes, fueling, hangar space, etc. Atlantic Aviation and American Flyers are the private FBOs at our airport and each are collecting a great deal of revenue for providing FBO services and subleasing city property. These profits should benefit the city, not a multi-national mega-corporation and an out-of-state corporation. They are using our land, our buildings, our hangars, and our fuel tanks to profit. For this reason, our Council decided to take action. On August 23, Council directed the City Manager to establish a city-owned FBO by December 31, or as soon as practicable. The revenue generated by a city-owned FBO can help to repay the $10M+ debt the Airport Fund owes the City. In the last two years, Fort Wayne, Greenville and Chattanooga created their own City FBO for similar financial reasons.

Sincerely,

Nelson Hernandez
Senior Advisor to the City Manager


 

Airport News

Monday, October 31, 2016

All,

Please find attached copies of the Unlawful Detainer documents filed by the City against American Flyers and Atlantic Aviation last Friday, November 4th. The filings took place at the Santa Monica Court. I should have included these documents yesterday in my email along with the other papers. My fault, sorry.

Sincerely,
Nelson Hernandez
Senior Advisor to the City Manager

Did you know…
Q. What is an aircraft operation? How many are there at SMO per year?
A. An “aircraft operation” means either a departure, or an arrival of an aircraft. In 2015, there were about 85,000 aircraft operations at Santa Monica Airport.

American Flyers Unlawful Detainer
Atlantic Aviation Unlawful Detainer


Airport News

Monday, October 31, 2016

All,

Are you, or perhaps someone you know, looking for a great job and career? A job that pays a very competitive salary (up to $134,000 per year) plus outstanding benefits at a beautiful location? If interested and qualified consider applying for Fixed Based Operations (FBO) Manager with the City of Santa Monica to work at the Airport. Click FBO Manager and hit control to view the job announcement. 

As you probably know on October 25th, the City Council reaffirmed its commitment to operating a FBO service and removing the two private providers, Atlantic Aviation and American Flyers. Speaking on behalf of the entire City Council, Mayor Vazquez in a statement released Thursday, October 26, explained, “ City Council affirmed our commitment to running a fixed-base operator (FBO) service to replace the private operators Atlantic Aviation and American Flyers at Santa Monica Airport by authorizing the hiring of up to 25 new employees. The City must create a public FBO to ensure the Airport breaks its reliance on general funds and repays the City the $10M+ it owes Santa Monica taxpayers. Our goal remains to have the FBO operational by the end of the year, or as soon as practicable.”

Just like the Mayor said, we need to hire staff starting with the FBO Manager. In addition to FBO Manager, the City will soon post up to 24 more airport jobs covering a wide variety duties. As those jobs become available, I will send out notices. The filing deadline for the FBO Manager is November 21st, but don’t’ wait until the last minute. Spread the word.


Sincerely,
Nelson Hernandez
Senior Advisor to the City Manager
FBO Manager


Airport News

Thursday, October 27, 2016

All,

On behalf of the Mayor, please see his state below regarding the City’s determination to create a fixed-based operation.

“On Tuesday night, City Council affirmed our commitment to running a fixed-base operator (FBO) service to replace the private operators Atlantic Aviation and American Flyers at Santa Monica Airport by authorizing the hiring of up to 25 new employees. The City must create a public FBO to ensure the Airport breaks its reliance on general funds and repays the City the $10M+ it owes Santa Monica taxpayers. Our goal remains to have the FBO operational by the end of the year, or as soon as practicable.”

Mayor Tony Vazquez


 

Airport News

Thursday, October 20, 2016

All,

Hope everyone is doing well. Not surprisingly, I get a lot of questions about the economics of the airport. In this episode, I answer 11 of the most common airport economics questions. No quiz at the end so relax and hopefully at the conclusion you will have a better understanding airport economics.

Q. Does the Airport Fund owe money to the City’s General Fund?

A. Yes, the Airport Fund is indebted to the City’s General Fund. For years Airport expenditures exceeded revenues causing a debt.

Q. If the Airport was running a deficit, did FAA provide rescue funds?
A. No, the FAA did not provide any financial assistance.

Q. If the FAA did not provide financial assistance, where did the rescue money come from?
A. The City, meaning you, Santa Monica taxpayers, provided the financial bailout of the Airport.

Q. How much money did the City’s General Fund lend to the Airport Fund?

A. The exact amount of airport debt is a matter of litigation, but currently the approximate amount is $11M to $13M.

Q. Is the Airport Fund repaying the debt obligation to the City’s General Fund?

A. Yes it is now. The Airport has made debt repayments in Fiscal Years 2014/15 and 2015/16.

Q. Does FAA dictate rent terms and conditions at Airports?
A. No. Rent terms and conditions are not subject to FAA approval. The FAA encourages airport owners to charge tenants market rates. Apparently FAA understands that unless tenants pay market rates an airport will be a financial burden on the owner and therefore tenants must pay market rates.

Q. What is the City doing now to make sure the airport does not sink back into deficit?

A. The City is taking a number of actions. First, rents are being adjusted to fair market rents. For instance, recently the City agreed to lease office space to a social media company--Snapchat. The company will occupy the office building previously used by attorneys and Volkswagen/Audi. Snapchat’s will pay market rate. Second, the City is eliminating all master tenants. By eliminating master tenants the City will retain local revenues generated on public property rather than allowing the revenues to flow into the pockets of out-of-state companies and a foreign corporation. Third, the City has hired an outside real estate broker to find credit worthy potential tenants to fill vacancies.

Q. Is the City charging market rents now?
A. Yes.

Q. What types of tenants lease space at the airport?

A. The airport has a variety of tenants, including: restaurants, aviation hangars, aviation tie downs, commercial offices, flight schools, an aviation museum, a performance theater, Santa Monica College, and the City in the form of Airport Park.

Q. Will the closure of SMO result in the loss of $270 million and 1,500 jobs in economic impact?
A. No way! Aviation lobbyists always cite these numbers from one of the City’s economic studies when referring to the economic impact of the SMO airport. However, these Aviation Lobbyists are deceptively combining both “aviation” plus “non-aviation” economic activity at the Airport. And what is worse, they often know they are combining the numbers and therefore misleading the public. Let’s take a look at the study that they cite. The study clearly stated that only 178 jobs were aviation-related out of a total of 1,487 jobs, yet the Aviation Lobbyists cite all 1,487 jobs. In other words, non-aviation produces 89% of the jobs at the Airport. The City clarified that the economic impact of aviation activity on the land is similar to a “medium-sized strip mall.” See – www.bit.ly/SMO-Economics

Q. I heard that if the Airport closes the land will be developed into high-rise condos, office towers and other commercial uses. Is that correct?
A. Another Pinocchio moment. What you heard is deliberate misinformation from aviation special interest that want to scare residents with the threat of development. As is clearly stated in the August 23rd City Council Resolution, the City Manager has been directed to begin the park planning and environmental analysis work required to transition the land from Airport, to recreation, park, open space, cultural and educational uses. Click here and read the resolution. 2016.08.23 City Council Resolution  The resolution is very clear—Council has directed staff to start planning a great public park that is consistent with Measure LC.

Take care,

Nelson


 

Airport News

Monday, October 3, 2016

All,

As you know, the City is fighting to regain control of the land currently occupied by the Airport so that it can be used for local benefit; and the City Council voted to close the Airport as soon as legally permissible. There are two conflicting views about how the land should be used. One use, which the FAA claims is required by federal law, is for an expanding a jetport that causes noise pollution, results in toxic lead vapors, and could be the site of a major aviation accident. The other use, which is supported by the voters and local law, would be a “Great Park” consisting of recreation, open space, education, and cultural uses. Unfortunately, until we succeed, it appears the problems caused by FAA and airport operations are going to get worse not better. 

Starting in November you are likely to experience more jet noise and air pollution because of an FAA plan known as SoCal Metroplex. The City opposed FAA’s SoCal Metroplex Plan but FAA rejected the City’s arguments.  SoCal Metroplex will be implemented in phases, beginning this November. Phase 1 will change the landing procedures for jets arriving to SMO. This route changes will force jets to fly lower over Santa Monica and Los Angeles and thus will subject residents to more noise and air pollution. 

Phase 2, scheduled for implementation in March, will significantly accelerate the adverse impacts on residents. Now, almost 95 percent of jets depart SMO directly toward the ocean and then turn north after the shoreline. Under the new SoCal Metroplex departure procedure, all jets departing in a western direction will turn north after crossing Lincoln Boulevard and fly directly over Ocean Park and Sunset Park. Thus, virtually all 9,000 jets departing annually from SMO will soar above densely populated Santa Monica residential neighborhoods beginning in March 2017.

The City submitted written objections to FAA regarding SoCal Metroplex. Despite our protest and alternative suggestions, FAA decided the noise and air pollution and possibility of an aviation accident over crowded neighborhoods are insignificant; yes, that is the actual determination of FAA. In August FAA issued what they call a Finding Of No Significant Impact, or FONSI. Hence, FAA literally said the impacts are insignificant. Again, this is the finding of FAA not the City of Santa Monica or the City of Los Angeles. 

Below are two upcoming FAA public information meetings regarding the SoCal Metroplex. These meetings will present identical information; just on different days. By attending either of these two meetings, you can directly ask FAA representatives why the FAA concluded that the SoCal Metroplex will have no significant impacts. You may also want to urge they reconsider this decision which aggravates the already unacceptable situation for the resident of City of Santa Monica and City of Los Angeles. 

Public Information Briefing #1

October 25, 2016 - 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. PDT

Location:

Griffith Middle School 

4765 E 4th St 

Los Angeles, CA  90022

Airport involved:

  • Los Angeles International (LAX)
  • Santa Monica Municipal (SMO)

 

Public Information Briefing #2

October 26, 2016 - 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. PDT

Location:

Palms Middle School

10860 Woodbine St 

Los Angeles, CA 90034

Airport involved:

  • Los Angeles International (LAX)
  • Santa Monica Municipal (SMO)

FAA is also providing an on-line version of the same presentation.

Internet Based Webinar #5

October 20, 2016 - 6:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. PDT

URL:

GotoWebinar

Dial: (631) 992-3221

Access Code/Meeting ID: 470-185-587

Airport involved:

  • Los Angeles International (LAX)
  • Santa Monica Municipal (SMO)

Below is a copy of the email the City received from FAA regarding the SoCal Metroplex public information meetings.

Nelson




From: 9-ANM-SoCalOAPM@faa.gov [mailto:9-ANM-SoCalOAPM@faa.gov]
Sent: Saturday, October 01, 2016 7:33 PM
Subject: FAA Southern California (SoCal) Metroplex Community Outreach – October 2016

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) signed a Finding of No Significant Impact and (FONSI) Record of Decision (ROD) for the Southern California Metroplex project on August 31, 2016. This is the FAA’s final decision, and it enables the agency to move forward with implementing the project, which will replace dozens of existing conventional air traffic control procedures with new satellite-based procedures. The project encompasses most of Southern California and includes six major airports and 15 satellite airports. We undertook the project to improve airspace safety and efficiency by allowing for more optimized and efficient routing of aircraft into and out of Southern California.

The FONSI and ROD, as well as the Final Environmental Assessment, are available at:

http://www.metroplexenvironmental.com/socal_metroplex/socal_introduction.html.

I’m writing to let you know the FAA is planning community outreach in support of the implementation of the project.  The project is being implemented in phases and this outreach will be focused on communities where changes are occurring in November 2016.  The community outreach will consist of both public information briefings and internet based webinars.  Additional community outreach will be conducted in early 2017 for the subsequent implementation phases of the project, in which you will receive prior notification.

Public Information Briefings:

The public information briefings will be an open-house format where the public can attend anytime during the posted times to learn about the project.  FAA representatives will provide a variety of information on the project and will be available to answer questions.  The public is welcome to attend anytime during the posted times to learn more about the project.  Free public parking is available at the briefing locations, and surrounding street parking is available too.  Spanish interpreters will be present for the briefings.  If other language interpreters or accommodations are needed, please contact me at the number below.  Logistical information regarding the briefings is as follows:

Specific information on the community outreach is available and periodically updated on the FAA’s NextGen Community Engagement webpage for the SoCal Metroplex project (https://www.faa.gov/nextgen/communityengagement/socal/).

For additional information, please contact my office at (310) 725-3550.

Glen A. Martin

Regional Administrator



 

Airport News

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

All,

In response to the Notice to Vacate that the City issued on September 15th, Atlantic Aviation is now asking the FAA to issue a cease and desist order that would prevent the City from exercising its right to establish its own FBO service and to remove and to replace Atlantic as an FBO service provider at Santa Monica Jetport. Federal law clearly allows the City, as the Airport’s proprietor, to establish and to operate its own FBO service. Moreover, the City believes that federal law does not give Atlantic Aviation any rights to remain at the Airport. Atlantic Aviation and their Australian parent company, MacQuaire Holdings, are arguing that their foreign corporate rights, fostered to serve the 1% who can afford private jet travel, supersedes the rights of the people of Santa Monica. Will FAA side with American public interest? 


More info to come.

Nelson

 

Atlantic Aviation FBO Inc V City of Santa Monica - Motion to Cease and Desist


 

Airport News

Thursday, September 15, 2016

All,

Please find attached a new Part 16 complaint filed by Atlantic Aviation against Santa Monica. The Part 16 complaint was submitted to FAA on Tuesday. As you probably know, Atlantic Aviation is one of two private Fixed Based Operators (FBOs) at Santa Monica Airport. Atlantic Aviation is by far the largest of the two FBOs; Atlantic Aviation caters to people who can afford to travel by luxurious private jet. 

Apparently Atlantic Aviation believes it has a right to be an FBO at Santa Monica, thus essentially using our land as an active jetport for their private profit. As senior executives of Atlantic Aviation acknowledged during a meeting with the City in February, for many decades the FAA has permitted airport owner/operators, such as Santa Monica City, the right to operate a municipal FBO and evict private FBOs. You will notice Atlantic Aviation conveniently happen to omit mention of that fact in their Part 16. I think I know why but it is best not to rush to judgment.

On August 23rd, the City Council directed the City Manager to establish a city-operated FBO and to send Notices to Vacate to the two private FBOs (American Flyers and Atlantic Aviation) by September 15. Attached are the notices and short cover letters given to Atlantic Aviation and American Flyers. Both were issued today.

 

Nelson

 

American Flyers Notice to Vacate
Atlantic Aviation Notice to Vacate
Atlantic Aviation FBO Inc V City of Santa Monica California


Airport News

Wednesday, September 8, 2016

All,

Last week the FAA sent a bluster filled letter (as expected) to Mayor Tony Vazquez. In our reply, we calmly explain to FAA that all measures taken to date and/or planned for the future, are, or will be, within our legal rights as landlord and/or airport owner/operator. We will continue with all deliberate speed to implement the City Council Resolution of August 23rd, including but not limited to: 

  1. Beginning the Airport planning and environmental assessment process 
  2. Noise ordinance enforcement
  3. Enhanced airport security
  4. Investigation(s) of any operator(s), if the City has reason to believe the operator(s) are operating as a scheduled airline or in violation of other applicable laws
  5. Submitting FAA forms required to remove the “Western Parcel” (1949 Quit Claim Parcel) from aviation use thus shortening the runway from 5,000 feet to 3,000 feet
  6. Phasing out the sale of toxic leaded fuel 
  7. Eliminate master tenants in order to put Santa Monica Jet-Port on a sound financial footing thereby facilitating the repayment of the multi-million debt obligation of the Airport fund to the City’s General Fund
  8. Establishing a City-operated FBO service
  9. Pursuing our legal rights in federal court, where impartially is a requirement of judges
  10. Leasing decisions based on the Airport Leasing Policy
  11. And of course, closing the Santa Monica Jet-Port as soon as legally permitted!

The Mayor's response is attached.

Sincerely,

Nelson Hernandez
Senior Advisor to the City Manager
Citys Response to FAA dated 09-06-2016 


 

Latest Airport News - Get the Lead Out

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

All,

As reported in my staff presentation on August 23, lead is one of the most toxic chemicals in our air. The EPA has said there is no safe level of lead exposure. Leaded fuel for aircraft is also known as Avgas; a clever branding to camouflage the danger of lead to the general public. 

Due to its toxicity, lead was phased out of automobile gasoline more than 20 years ago. Nevertheless, because of FAA and aviation special interest, leaded fuel is still widely used by many small planes. This poses a serious threat to public health in Santa Monica were 85,000 aircraft operations occur annually. Fortunately, unleaded fuel is a viable option. The aviation industry insists it’s not possible or too difficult to switch to unleaded fuel. This is simply not true. Up to 75% of the planes that use leaded fuel could switch right now to unleaded fuel. Many countries have already made the switch. Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Myanmar, North Korea and Yemen all permit leaded fuel sales; countries not recognized as environmental stewards nor are they known for being particularly responsive to democratic values. 

Attached I have provided a copy of a great new report regarding leaded fuel. The report was published by Friends of the Earth; it is titled Myths & Realities of Leaded Aviation Fuel. Friends of the Earth found it’s not only possible, but necessary for the health of our communities and our environment, to eliminate the use of leaded fuel. Even at low doses, lead is highly toxic and causes a variety of adverse health effects, including learning disabilities, lower IQ levels, increased blood pressure and nerve damage. Children are at especially high risk -- they are more sensitive to lead-induced toxicity. 

This is why the Santa Monica City Council directed the City Manager to phase out the sale of leaded fuel at Santa Monica Airport (SMO). One would hope our federal agencies would be on the side of protecting public health and FAA would spring into action to help Santa Monica end the toxic brew of lead exposure. No such luck. Instead, FAA sends a letter to our Mayor defending leaded fuel and threatening legal action to impede our mission to eliminate toxic leaded fumes generated by Santa Monica Airport. 

I encourage you to read the attached report and be informed about the dangers of exposure to lead. The more you know about these dangers, the better you will understand why the City Council has prioritized phasing out selling leaded fuel at SMO. Incidentally, the amount of leaded fuel sold at SMO is no trivial matter; between the two current leaded fuel vendors 260,000 gallons are sold annually at SMO and each gallon contains two grams of lead, which exposes us to 1,160 pounds of toxic lead fumes over our homes, parks, and schools annually.

Tell the FAA to listen to public health science and end toxic leaded fuel pollution generated by Santa Monica Airport! You can reach the FAA Associate Administrator for Airports at the following email address: Eduardo.Angeles@faa.gov 


Sincerely,

Nelson

Leaded Pump at the SMO
Friends of the Earth Report Regarding Lead Fuel


2016.08.15 Press Release

Airport News 

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Saludos--Greetings,

 

In honor of Cinco De Mayo holiday (is that a holiday?) I offer you the latest edition of Airport news and in keeping with the Latino spirit I have tossed in a few Spanish words just to keep it authentic. Aprovecha—Enjoy!

Airport Security Enhancement Request for Qualifications

Late last year, the Council directed city staff to research airport security issues and propose security enhancements, if necessary. In response, city staff released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to find and select the best qualified consultant in the field of aviation security. Great idea, right? I think so. Well, apparently our RFQ caught the attention of the aviation security community because ocho (eight) companies submitted proposals. After reviewing the proposals city staff has narrowed the search to four well-qualified finalists. We expect to further reduce the finalists to two and thereafter select the most qualified in order to commence work in July. Taking care of business! 

What is a Part 16?
How many times have you heard the term “Part 16” in relation to legal matters at the airport? In Santa Monica probably countless! You may have heard the term numerous times but do you know the origin and meaning? Unless you are an aviation litigator, or have a fetish for knowing federal regulations (oh boy, now that is a problem) you probably have lived a long a prosperous life without caring much for federal regulations. So let’s take a moment to develop a mutual understanding. Stay awake because in my next edition I am going to give you the highlights of two pending Part 16 cases and the quiz will have 108 questions!

The term Part 16 comes from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). FAAs regulations are extensive, (what an understatement) with more than 200 parts. Essentially, Part 16 is the set of regulations that govern the complaint process. According to FAA, “…Part 16 contains the rules for filing complaints and adjudicating compliance…” In other words, if an individual or company believes an airport owner has violated a federal law or regulation and it has suffered harm because of that alleged violation it has the right to file a Part 16 complaint. The FAA also says, it has the right to initiate its own investigation without having received a complaint. Now let’s turn to what happens after a complaint has been filed. 

FAA states that if there appears to be a reasonable basis for further investigation, it will investigate. The FAA says their investigation may include one or more of the following: 1) a review of the written submissions of the parties, information gathered by the FAA's investigation of the matter, or information furnished by the parties; 2) oral and documentary evidence obtained by FAA; and 3) conducting or requiring that a sponsor conduct an audit of airport financial records and transactions. 

After the investigation is complete, the FAA will issue a Director’s Determination. However, the term Director’s Determination is misleading because the “Director” in question is not the top FAA Administrator. The “Director” in Directors Determination is only the Director for Airport Compliance. Did you know, the Director’s Determinations are not binding on the FAA? Yes, that’s right. Here is the precise FAA language regarding Director’s Determination, “…The Director's Determination is an initial non-final agency decision based on the record that contains a concise explanation of the factual and legal basis for the Director's decision”. I think FAA should find a term that more accurately describes this process because Director’s Determination is not cutting it. I suggest “FAA preliminary decisions that take forever to know the results and are subject to reversal by the Associate Administrator”. Perhaps, a bit too long, even for federal standards, but you get the idea.

Anyway, after the Director renders his non final agency decision, either party may appeal to the Associate Administrator for Airports. FAA says that any party adversely affected by the Director's Determination may appeal the initial determination to the Associate Administrator for Airports within 30 days after the date of service of the initial determination. The Associate Administrator may issue a final agency decision on appeal from the Director's determination. In other words, it is the Associate Administrator who can issue a final agency decision. Got it? Muy bien--Very good!


Hasta La Vista—Until Next Time

Nelson Hernandez


Airport News 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

All,

Airport Park Expansion
Earlier this year I reported on the City’s plan to remove all aircrafts parked at the southeast parcel (abutting Airport Park and Dog Park) of the airport by March 15th. Removing the aircrafts and corresponding tie-downs from the subject parcel is one step in the Airport Park expansion process. I am glad to report the aircrafts haven been removed from the parcel. Some aircrafts have been relocated to other areas at the airport and others self-selected alternative locations. In either case, the six acres are now free of aircrafts. Our park planning consultant, Clementi Rios, is busy at work creating a series of park feasibility concepts. More information about that process will be forth coming. 

9th Circuit Court of Appeals Hearing: “Revert” Clause Is a Misnomer—It is Confiscation without Compensation
As many of you know, the City leased the airport property to the federal government in 1941 in order to support the war against Fascism. When the federal government returned the City’s property it did so using a legal document known as an Instrument of Transfer (IOT). According to federal government’s interpretation of the IOT, if the City exercises local control over land it owns the federal government could demand that the property “revert” back to the federal government. Of course, ownership of real property can only “revert” to an owner, not a borrower; that is real estate 101. Although there are many legal and technical terms, the airport disagreement boils down to something that is simple to understand.

Let me explain by example: Let’s suppose there was an emergency. Let’s further suppose you were generous enough to lend me your house in order for me to deal with the emergency. At the end of the emergency, I return your house with a condition. Imagine that, the borrower, not the lender, making conditions! Say that I, as the borrower, impose that from this moment forward you must occupy the house, your house, in the manner I say, which is to shelter my friends forever, and if you don’t I am entitled to snatch your home and not pay you a penny! What would be your reaction? You would probably not appreciate it one bit. As polite people, you might say… “Let me get this straight, you demand to put conditions on returning something that you borrowed? As a good neighbor I gladly and eagerly lent you my house to help with the emergency. The emergency is over. You have no right to condition the return of my property”. 

 

Essentially, this is the heart of the case. The federal government borrowed our property and now insists it can impose conditions on it forever for the benefit of a few, to the detriment of the many, and without paying a penny. Is that “reversion” or is it confiscation without compensation?

 

Audio recording of hearing 

Airport Leasing Policy
Last night the City Council approved the proposed Airport Leasing Policy. Highlights of the leasing policy include:

  • Tenant Mix. The City shall, in an orderly fashion, achieve a tenant mix at the airport whose operations are compatible and harmonious with the local community.
  • Master Tenants. The proposed Leasing Policy calls for elimination of master tenant agreements in an orderly transition. 
  • Delegation of Authority. The Leasing Policy delegates leasing decisions at the Airport to the City Manager provided the City Manager finds the proposed lease is consistent with the Policy and does not extend beyond June 30, 2018.
  • Lease Terms. Month-to-month leases and leases that expire on or before June 30, 2018 are under the authority of the City Manager. Leases with terms beyond June 30, 2018 must go to the City Council for approval.
  • Rates. All new and renewed leases will be leased at prevailing market rates and rates will be adjusted to stay current with market conditions and as new/renewed leases arise.
  • Existing Tenants. All existing airport tenants will be given the opportunity to submit a lease application to the City. The City is under no obligation to offer lease agreements. Submitting an application to the City does not obligate the City to enter into lease negotiations, offer a lease agreement, or execute a lease agreement. The decision to execute a lease agreement will be made solely within the City’s discretion as landlord and property owner.
  • Sub-Leasing. Sub-leasing shall be prohibited.
  • Real Estate Brokers. The City may cooperate with commercial real estate brokers who are authorized to negotiate leases on behalf of prospective tenants.

The Leasing Policy will produce a tenant mix that is compatible with the surrounding community and generate sufficient revenue to repay the $13.1M owed by the Airport to the City. Mayor Vasquez said it best, “By phasing out master tenants and charging market rates, the Airport will finally be able to pay its own way. No longer will Santa Monica taxpayers subsides the convenience of a few who can afford to travel by corporate jet, which causes health and safety problems for tens of thousands of hard working residents.”  

The next step is for staff to apply the leasing policy to pending applications.

Until next time.

Nelson Hernandez
Senior Advisor to the City Manager


NBAA Threatens DOT Funds

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

All,

Stock Image of a Jet
On March 1st, Mayor Vasquez received a letter from the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA). The NBAA represents 10,000 corporations that use jets to fly corporate chiefs about the U.S. in private luxury. 

Not surprisingly, the citizens of Santa Monica have upset NBAA again. This time the NBAA is having a bad day because the citizens of Santa Monica, and their elected leaders, have decided to exert local control over land purchased and owned by the people of Santa Monica for nearly 100 years.

The letter, from NBAA COO Steve Brown to Mayor Vazquez states that the city’s fight for local control, “…may lead to severe sanctions, such as the termination of all federal transportation grants to the City.” He goes further to say to Vazquez “I once again urge you to stop enabling a vocal-but-misguided minority of Santa Monica residents…” Rather than acknowledge property rights and the results of democracy, e.g. the crushing defeat of the NBAA sponsored Measure D, and the huge victory of Measure Local Control, the NBAA has a new tactic to subvert the will of Santa Monica citizens; a tactic that could only spring out of a corporate boardroom.

Mr. Brown closes his letter with: “The City - like most communities across the U.S. – should recognize that its airport is a valuable asset, and on that basis act as a good steward of SMO - a policy which would benefit its residents.” Perhaps Mr. Brown can say this because his home is not 300 feet from the SMO runway. The City is delivering on the will of its voters and the health and safety of all the residents that live with the negative impacts of the airport.

Stock Image Passenger
The Chief Operating Officer for NBAA is telling our Mayor and the people of Santa Monica that if we continue our work to reclaim the land that belongs to us, they will demand that the Federal Department of Transportation (DOT) withhold funds for Santa Monica roads and public transportation! The NBAA will urge the federal government to take away funds we use to build and repair roads and keep cars moving if we continue to reclaim local control over public property. The best way to explain my reaction to this threat is to recall my one semester of Yiddish, (yes I took Yiddish in high school) what chutzpah!

Elimination of DOT funds would impact not just Santa Monica residents, but the region by affecting the 17,000,000 people who ride the Big Blue Bus on an annual basis. (I can’t remember the polite Yiddish word for chutzpah plus.) And who are our bus riders? Well, although bus rider surveys do not typically ask if they also commute by jet, I will take the risk, and assume that at least 99% of the people who rely on the bus don’t regularly commute by corporate jets. They are hardworking people, those with disabilities, seniors, students, public transit enthusiasts, environmentalists, bicyclists, and those who may not have the means to own a car. 

So why does NBAA make this threat? Hard to say, perhaps Mr. Brown believes this will intimidate Santa Monicans and force us to stop our fight. But he is wrong. We will continue our efforts to regain control of public land. We will not succumb to NBAA’s intimidation tactics because we know there are no monsters under the bed. 

As Mayor Vasquez said, “Santa Monica is a recognized national leader in mobility and we proudly offer transportation choices to all, including those who cannot afford a jet. Of course, this latest threat, nor the others that are likely to follow, will deter us from regaining what belongs to the people.”

Sincerely,

Nelson Hernandez
Senior Advisor to the City Manager