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FAA Hearing Officer Issues Initial Decision in Santa Monica Airport Litigation

On May 14, 2009, an FAA Hearing Officer issued the initial decision in an enforcement proceeding against Firm client, the City of Santa Monica, based on the City's decision to ban category C and D aircraft at the Santa Monica Airport.  After a hearing in March 2009, the Hearing Officer held that the ban was inconsistent with (i) Grant Assurance 22 (Economic Nondiscrimination), (ii) deed restrictions in an instrument transferring Airport property from the federal government to the City under the Surplus Property Act, and (iii) the terms of a 1984 agreement between the City and the FAA.  The Hearing Officer found for the City in concluding that the ban did not grant an exclusive right in violation of federal law and Grant Assurance 23 and that the FAA's claim that the ban is preempted is not reviewable in an administrative proceeding under FAR Part 16.  The City and the FAA Office of Airport Safety and Standards have until May 29, 2009, to file an appeal of the initial decision with the FAA Associate Administrator for Aviation Policy, Planning, and Environment.