The Glendale Airport Pilots Association (GAPA) went up against the City of Glendale, Arizona, recently, over the city’s attempt to dictate how privately constructed and owned hangars could be used.
The verdict? In March 2016, GAPA won its lawsuit after a 4½-year dispute, securing a Summary Judgment against the city. The courts said the city acquiesced and abandoned the right to enforce rules that actually had not been enforced for a decade. Hangar owners regained hangar usage rights. According to GAPA, all airport users and on-airport businesses won.
For many years, hangar owners used their hangars as they saw fit, as these spaces were constructed to protect airplanes and other personal property. Additionally, the 150-some hangars increased airport value, as well as increased airport popularity and usage together with flying activity.
Then, the City of Glendale took a different view, according to GAPA, deciding it would determine how hangar spaces could be used, in addition to changing the land lease agreement and applying restrictions that prevented storage of property that wasn’t aviation-related. Following the change notifications came an onslaught of inspections by city code enforcement and various city departments sighting violations never before mentioned. GAPA said the city even engaged the FAA and the FAA’s grant assurances programs to leverage their attempts to enforce the new restrictions, and brought in FAA top guns from Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles in their efforts to dictate hangar usage.
In April 2014, approximately 20 pilots and hangar owners filed the lawsuit in the name of GAPA against the City of Glendale in Maricopa County Superior Court, alleging breach of contract, broken promises, loss of property values and income, together with State and Federal constitutional issues.
With the verdict adjudicated in its favor, GAPA reports that the cloud of airport depression has passed and all look forward to a new beginning. Still, according to GAPA, it will take time, possibly years, to regain property values and airport activities to fully recover from misguided city administration actions.
“GAPA will remain diligent,” said GAPA President Richard Goldman. “We won the judgment, but there are more issues to be addressed. The airport pilot association is a nonprofit on airport organization created to promote on-airport aviation and defend airport pilots and hangar owners from all intrusions. GAPA will remain active for as long as it’s needed.”