Court Rules in Santa Monica’s Favor for Santa Monica Airport Landing and Fuel Flowage Fees
November 29, 2018
SANTA MONICA, Calif. – The City Attorney’s Office obtained a victory this month in litigation relating to landing fees that the City collects from aircraft operators that use the runway and taxiways at the Santa Monica Airport and fuel flowage fees the City collects from service providers who sell or dispense fuel or oil products at the airport.
City Attorney Lane Dilg said, "We are very pleased with the Court’s ruling, which properly rejects the plaintiffs’ challenges to landing and fuel fees at the airport and ends this needless litigation."
In December 2015, plaintiffs Justice Aviation, Landau Music Group, Fredric Rosenthal, Ted Faber, Marco Astani, and the Korney Living Trust dated 6/12/1979 filed a complaint in the Los Angeles County Superior Court challenging the City’s landing fees and fuel flowage fees. The plaintiffs argued, among other things, that the City had not properly published ordinances authorizing the fees, that the fees exceeded constitutional limits established by Proposition 26, and that the City had punitively designed the fees to limit flight activity at the airport.
Following discovery and other early litigation proceedings, on November 19, 2018, the Court granted the motion for summary judgment and summary adjudication filed by the City Attorney’s Office. The Court found no questions of fact requiring a trial and ruled for the City on each and every one of the claims at issue in the litigation.
This case, titled Justice Aviation Inc. et al. v. City of Santa Monica, Case No. BC 603327, was handled by Deputy City Attorney Ivan Campbell, with assistance from Scott Lewis at Anderson & Krieger LLP.
This is one of a series of recent victories for the City in airport-related litigation. In June of this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected a challenge brought by the National Business Aviation Association and others and upheld the historic Consent Decree that allowed Santa Monica to shorten the runway at the airport, which caused a reduction in jet aircraft operations by over 80 percent and provided the City the right to close the airport at the end of 2028.