SANTA MONICA ( — The city of Santa Monica is taking the FAA and the federal government to court over who has control of the Santa Monica Airport.

In a suit filed Thursday against the federal government and the FAA, Santa Monica is asking a court to give it clear title to the land.

“The FAA maintains we have to operate the land forever, and we dispute that,” Mayor Pam O’Connor told KCAL9’s Serene Branson.

The move marks the first volley in what is expected to be a long battle over the 200-plus acres.

The airport has been controversial, with neighbors worried about crashes such as the fatal accident last month, in addition to noise and air pollution. O’Connor says the city is also losing money on its operation.

With the contract expiring in 2015, she says it’s time for the court to make a decision.

“It’s our duty to protect our community,” O’Connor said. “The time is now to find out … to establish clearly that it is our land,” she said.

A spokesperson for the FAA disputed the claims.

“…The city is separately obligated to operate Santa Monica airport beyond 2023 because it acquired the land on which the airport is located cost-free from the federal government in 1948,” a statement from the agency reads in part.

Resident Joe Owens has lived 100 yards from the runway for four decades.

“I’d be happy to have fewer jets,” he said, adding, “The FAA has too much power. There are a lot of people with a lot of money that do not want the airport closed.”

The FAA has 60 days to respond to the lawsuit.


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