Glendale To Decide On Pilot Lawsuit After Judge Rules Against City
At the Glendale airport, privately-owned hangars don’t hold just aircraft, some have restored cars, motorcycles and even a built-in bar and kitchen.
“And it was that way for 10, 11, 12 years, with no problems,” said Richard Goldman, who owns two hangars at Glendale airport.
Glendale gets millions of dollars in grant money from the Federal Aviation Administration. When inspectors at the federal agency suggested a stricter enforcement of only allowing aircraft in hangars, the city complied.
“The FAA has the power to withhold that grant money if it finds we’re not complying with its regulations,” Glendale Assistant City Attorney Aaron Schepler said.
Those rules rankled some longtime hangar-owners including Goldman, who helped bring a lawsuit against the city in 2014.
“When they began to take control of our hangar spaces we resisted,” he said. The lawsuit called for $20 million in damages, which the judge dismissed.
This summer, the FAA revised the rules after complaints like this across the county. Now, the agency says as long as the hangar is being used for storing aircraft, other storage isn’t a problem.
“The efforts that officials at the city have undertaken in recent weeks are aimed toward, to provide a more cooperative working relationship with the pilots of the airport,“ Schepler said.
In September, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge issued in favor of the pilots, saying Glendale must pay attorney fees and let pilots store non-aircraft in the hangars.
Hobby pilot Gary Davis wasn't part of the lawsuit, but does have more than just his three planes in the hangar. He has a golf cart, lawn chair and table and lots of tools and storage.
"In relationship to other hangars I've had, this one was pretty strict," Davis said. "They did inspections once or twice a year to make sure things were up to par."
Some pilots received fines from the city for storing non-airplane items. Davis is satisfied with the FAA's new rulings, which do enforce the presence of an airplane.
"I'm glad that they enforced the fact that you have to have an airplane in here along with everything else that you might have," he said. "Because if they didn't, these would be full of plumbing shops or everything else, and there'd be no place to park airplanes."
The Glendale city council will vote next week on its response to a lawsuit brought against the city by a pilots association.