City of Helsinki intends to close the city airport’s runways ahead of time and refuses to rent office space to Friends of Malmi Airport Association because of its aims.
City of Helsinki Urban Environment Committee decided on 20 August 2019 to reject the rectification request concerning the Chief of the Properties unit’s decision to terminate the indeterminate lease of the runway area to Malmi Airfield Association.
The decision has been appealed to Administrative Court, as the concerned parties have not been heard and the grounds given for the decision are not valid. In addition, City officials have repeatedly assured in discussions that the lease will be extended for many years, as the detailed planning is expected to take several years. The complaint was filed by Friends of Malmi Airport Association.
According to the periodical Suomen Kuvalehti, the project leader of Malmi area, Mr. Kimmo Kuisma has justified the decision like this: ”It is important for us to get control of the whole area so that we’ll be able do anything anywhere in there.” The airport area is under a prohibition of endangerment to protect its built heritage, and in the legal detailed plan it is an airport, so the possibilities of other use are limited.
According to members of the Urban Environment Committee, vice mayor Anni Sinnemäki has stated that “if she had guessed what kind of mess would cause, she would have prevented aviation activities right at the beginning.”
“The comment gives one the feeling that this is more of a matter of principle than about the need for housing construction”, says Chairman of Friends of Malmi Airport, Mr. Timo Hyvönen.
Looking into the matter, it has turned out that the City makes sure that the activities of those interested in renting space are not related to aviation. While striving to end the lease of Malmi Airfield Association, the City has actively offered the runway area to FHRA, the Finnish Hot Rod Association, for drag racing events. The associations are thus put into unequal position depending on the nature of their activities and their charter, which may meet the definition of discrimination.
The baffling knock-out denial by the City to a request to rent space led to an investigation request to the Police
The Friends of Malmi Airport Association (FoMA) sought to rent more office space from the City in Malmi Airport’s terminal building. The negotiator in charge of renting out the City’s properties offered several alternatives in addition to the present premises occupied by FoMA, until suddenly on Tuesday 24 September her reply to a request to rent office space was this:
”The aim of the Friends of Malmi Airport Association is to preserve the operations of Malmi Airport at the present location and to develop, promote and support the Airport’s operational preconditions. The activity of the Association contradicts the City’s decisions and plans concerning the area. Renting additional space to the Friends of Malmi Airport Association thus does not further the realization of the mentioned decisions and is not suitable from the City’s point of view.”
According to Mr. Petteri Snell, the solicitor helping the Association, this decision seems to violate paragraph 11 of chapter 11 of the Criminal Code concerning discrimination. In addition it may be in violation of the justice principles of administrative law.
The Chairman of FoMA, Mr. Timo Hyvönen, is baffled by the decision:
“We have had fluid conversations even though the City has declared taking over the spaces we have requested one by one. These spaces are still unoccupied, and this decision was like a punch in the face – our opinion is wrong, so the City won’t allow us to have office space.”
The Association’s present premises were rented in 2017. The rules of the Association have not changed. The City’s decision only quotes a part of them. According to its rules, the Association’s aim is also “to cherish and protect the temporal diversity of Malmi Airport’s built cultural heritage and its cultural environments, to cherish their characteristics and special features, and to promote their culturally sustainable maintenance and use.“
The Association has announced continuing its work even if the aviation activities at Malmi Airport are obstructed for the time being, and even though the City has already rejected the Association’s applications for financial support on the ground that aviation activities will cease in the near future.
“The injustice of the City’s decisions concerning our association are blatant, and an investigation request has been made to the Police. Our solicitors are also looking into the matter to see if an actual crime has been committed”, says Mr. Hyvönen.
A municipal initiative for a consultative referendum is presently underway at https://www.kuntalaisaloite.fi/fi/aloite/6466 (in Finnish). It has already gathered about 18.000 signatures out of the required 22.000. Only about 1/4 of the Helsinki City Council members have announced their willingness to allow a referendum if the initiative is brought to the Council.
Complaint filed to Administrative Court (in Finnish): https://www.malmiairport.fi/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/HAO_vuokrasopimus2019.pdf
Office space rental investigation request ID: ZZZZZ7LHF7
Web pages of the City’s space rentals (in Finnish): https://www.hel.fi/helsinki/fi/asuminen-ja-ymparisto/tontit/tilat/tilat-yrityksille/vuokrattavat
City Council members’ stand on allowing a referendum (in Finnish): https://malmivaalit.fi/
Suomen Kuvalehti, article about the situation (in Finnish): https://suomenkuvalehti.fi/jutut/kotimaa/eduskunta-edellytti-malmin-lentotoiminnan-turvaamista-myos-helikopterit-haadetaan-vuodenvaihteessa-korvaavasta-kentasta-ei-tietoa/?shared=1089268-eb51f7df-500