One of the things you will often hear the City Council allege, in fact Councilman Winterer did so on NPR just today (8/29/16,) is that the Fixed Base Operators on the north side of our Airport had a special arrangement enforced by the FAA that made the City lease to these FBO's at below market rates.
Well, as William Blake told us: “ A truth that's told with bad intent, beats all the lies you can invent” and so it is still.
When Douglas aircraft failed to reach an understanding with the City in the late 1970's and moved out, the City Council, as short-sighted then as it is today, decided that the time was ripe to grab the land and voted to close the airport. Accordingly, eviction notices we served on all the airport tenants in 1981. Those tenants fought back with the end result that Santa Monica had to settle the matter with now famous 1984 thirty year Airport Agreement with the FAA which made abundantly clear, among other things, that the Federal Government was the final arbiter in these airport matters.
Part of the plan set forth in that agreement was to build out the north side of the field, which Douglas left as bare unimproved earth with no plumbing or electrical service. To offset the cost of the new business buildings, hangars and, of course, the Museum of Flying, as is standard business practice, the land was leased at a reduced rate to allow the new tenants to amortize cost of their capital outlay over thirty years. Nothing special here-no sweetheart deals, nothing under the table, nothing unusual at all. Just normal business incentive.
There are, of course, sweetheart deals with land at the airport. That is true, but those are between the City and Santa Monica College as the City has freely admitted in recent court filings. That is, as they say, another kettle of ripening fish altogether.