The Santa Monica Airport Commission will hold a special meeting on Tuesday to debate new rules for leasing space to aviation-related businesses.
The airport commission will hear the changes, consider revisions and make a recommendation to City Council regarding the proposed Airport Minimum Standards. Council will consider the recommendation at a future meeting and will have the final say in any new rules.
The new standards include insurance rules, security requirements, application procedures, general operator requirements and specialized rules for individual types of businesses. Commercial service providers such as fixed base operators (FBO), aircraft charter/air taxis, flight training schools, aircraft maintenance and repair stations, self-service fuel pumps, aircraft management services, air transportation arrangers, aircraft sales operators and other aeronautical services would be covered under the rules.
SMO has about 187 acres of aeronautical space and 40 acres for other uses. The airport derives about 70 percent of its revenue from lease and license operations.
“The Minimum Standards would build on the current processes to provide concise and reasonable threshold entry requirements for persons or entities wishing to provide commercial aeronautical services to the public at the Airport; prevent irresponsible, unsafe or inadequate services; and prevent unfair competition,” said the staff report.
The rules reflect an ongoing set of changes to airport operations following a deal between City Hall and the FAA. The Consent Decree allows the City to close the airport in 2028, shorten the runway and dismissed several ongoing legal disputes. Aviation supporters are currently challenging the validity of the agreement but the City has already reduced the runway length and continues to operate under the terms of the deal.
Under the decree, the City is required to offer aeronautical businesses three-year lease terms and adhere to FAA standards that make the airport available to pilots on reasonable terms. Staff said the new Minimum Standards are in compliance with those rules.
“The main objective of Minimum Standards is to ensure that each aeronautical service provider is reasonably fit, willing and able to perform the services it seeks to provide; to promote good service and fair competition; and to discourage unqualified applicants,” said the staff report. “The City’s adoption and uniform enforcement of these proposed Minimum Standards would enhance the City’s ability to comply with the requirements of the Consent Decree without creating any rights to operate the Airport that do not already exist.”
The Commission received more than 80 comments from 32 individuals or groups about the rules.
A joint submission from the National Business Aviation Administration, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, and the Santa Monica Airport Association highlighted several specific issues but also criticized the process at large saying the rules were at odds with FAA rules.
“Simply put, the policy is not reasonable nor relevant, but rather is unjustly discriminatory,” said one comment.
Staff said the rules were in compliance with Federal standards.
“The City disagrees that any aspects of the Minimum Standards or the Airport Leasing Policy are unreasonable, irrelevant, or unjustly discriminatory,” said the response.
The Airport Commission will meet on Tuesday, June 5 at 7 p.m. in City Hall, 1685 Main St.