Many folks have noticed that certain parts of the airport that recently had aircraft parked on them are now empty. What happened? Did somebody drop the ball?
The land in question, notably the previous south-east tiedowns, adjacent to the dog park was removed from aviation use in 1984 under the terms of an agreement between the Federal government and the City of Santa Monica. Another part of that same agreement took precedent however. That part of the 1984 agreement mandated accommodation of a minimum fleet size and so sufficient space had to be maintained to provide for it.
When the 1984 agreement timed-out last year the minimum fleet size provision lapsed and the land given up in 1984 finally became available to the city as “residual land” for legitimate non-aviation, parkland uses. This transaction was signed, sealed, and delivered thirty years ago but has only just now become visible.
Was it a wise decision? Maybe, and maybe not.
The fact is that it was a decision agreed upon by the City and the FAA as a result of the City’s attempt to close the airport in 1980 and is not the result in any way of any recent actions by the City, although one gets the impression that the current crop of politicians would like to take credit for it.
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