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Santa Monica City Council members have backed two federal and one state bill aiming to limit the amount of helicopter noise in residential neighborhoods.
Santa Monica City Council members have backed two federal and one state bill aiming to limit the amount of helicopter noise in residential neighborhoods.

News, City Council, Santa Monica

Santa Monica City Council Supports Federal, State Bills On Helicopter Noise

Posted Sep. 2, 2013, 9:00 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

Perhaps helicopter noise is not the most pressing issue in Santa Monica. Yet, the City Council hopes a trio of bills will help control the amount of noise pollution in the skies above Santa Monica and West Los Angeles.

At their Tuesday meeting, council members unanimously backed two federal and one state bill aiming to limit the amount of helicopter noise in residential neighborhoods.

Each of the three proposed bills is entitled “Los Angeles Residential Helicopter Noise Relieve Act of 2013.” Sen. Diane Feinstein introduced the version of the bill in Congress’s upper house, while Rep. Adam Schiff brought the proposed noise restriction law to the House of Representatives (H.R. 456).

Sen. Barbara Boxer also supports the upper house bill, S. 208, according to news reports.

Up in Sacramento, State Senators Ted Lieu, who represents Santa Monica, and Fran Pavley brought the proposed law (SJR 7) to the State Senate.

Council member Kevin McKeown requested his colleagues support the “legislation intended to control helicopter noise over Greater Los Angeles” in light of an Airport Commission recommendation in July.

The three bills revived a previous attempt to regulate helicopter noise. Rep. Howard Berman previously spearheaded the legislative campaign in Washington, D.C. However, he lost his seat in 2012 to rival San Fernando Valley representative Brad Sherman.

Interestingly enough, Sherman is now one of the backers of the new legislation in the House of Representatives; Rep. Henry Waxman (33rd District) also backs H.R. 456.

The legislation specifically targets low-flying commercial helicopters.

Should the legislation become law, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would be required to regulate noise emanating from low-flying commercial helicopters by instructing such aircraft to fly in specified flight paths and above a certain altitude in non-emergency situations anywhere within Los Angeles County.

Schiff’s bill also proposes additional safety regulations and requires the FAA to gather input from local communities and helicopter operates in determining its policy.

As the proposed legislations focuses on commercial helicopters, such aircraft operated by emergency responders – police, fire, or military – would be exempt.

According to news reports, Berman proposed legislation on helicopter noise after his office received complaints shortly after “Carmageddon” in 2011. When a stretch of the 405 Freeway was shut down for an entire weekend between Westwood and Sherman Oaks, many aircraft took to the skies to observe the open stretch of road and residual impacts on other Southern California roads. Commercial airliner JetBlue, for example, sold plane tickets for $4 per person to fly between Long Beach Airport and Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport. The flight path took passengers above the Sepulveda Pass at relatively low height.

Other commercial aircraft, including helicopters, toured the 405 Freeway closure in similar fashion.

Berman’s office received complaints by many residents who lived at the top end of the 405 Freeway closure, as part of his district included the southern San Fernando Valley.

Much of Berman’s district, which was redrawn in 2012, now belongs Sherman.

According to City staff’s report, the FAA plans to issue a report next spring, offering ways to reduce noise pollution in the skies above Los Angeles County.

City staff’s report to council members also pointed out the FAA would be required to determine flight paths and minimum altitudes for commercial helicopters flying above Los Angeles County within one year of the new regulations, should they be passed.

Council member Tony Vazquez was not present for the vote.

Post a comment


Sep. 2, 2013, 10:21:06 am

michael said...

"....police helicopters would be exempt" they're the biggest, and noisest problem! they frequently circle my neighbourhood late at night, and non of us can get any sleep! I think it's outrageous that a great city like LA has it's residents sleeping at the mercy of this!

Sep. 2, 2013, 12:58:01 pm

Mary Ann said...

Yes, Michael's point is why I clicked on this article. I was hoping police helicopters were the reason for these laws being supported by Santa Monica. Otherwise, maybe some residents will have some peace next time Lindsay Lohan has to show up at court as long as that doesn't constitute an emergency, and news helicopters aren't also exempt!

Sep. 2, 2013, 5:43:39 pm

Tammi said...

Santa Monica is full of a bunch of whiny little snots. Wah! I don't like aircraft noise! Wah! I don't like big buildings being built. Wha! I don't like homeless people! Wha! I don't like traffic! Why don't you suck it up like the rest of us. You like in an URBAN center of the world. If you don't like it, move to a quiet suburb in Idaho for all I care. Just shut your mouths because you're the biggest noise makers I see.

Sep. 2, 2013, 7:27:40 pm

Robert Kirsner said...

Aldus Huxley once said that the thing that most Americans were terrified of was....silence. I hope you will keep the following organization informed about any progress in reducing noise in Santa Monica and neighboring communities:

Sep. 3, 2013, 11:23:29 am

Bettyrexie said...

I am not convinced that many of flyovers are real "emergencies"...I think some pilots just like to fly over the coastal areas to see what's what because it's cool for them to be able to...I also think they like to pump up the "newsworthiness" of aerial views of the west side. Burns up a lot of gas...

Sep. 3, 2013, 5:37:22 pm

George Drummond said...

Done lots of flying out in LA I'm sure if this bill goes through and both sides are sensible about what they are trying to achieve. Please bear in mind that is what helicopters are built to do, fly relatively low, and be copious of the smog situation there on a daily basis. I think the law makers should be working hard to tackle the smog first so that IFR will not be an issue in shutting down OIA every now and then because of the issues mentioned.

Sep. 3, 2013, 5:37:40 pm

PB said...

This attempt to regulate Federal airspace is regrettable. It's directed at commercial air traffic, but most of the helicopter noise is generated by police and military and they are exempted from the proposal. Of the commercial helicopters, why is there demand for commuting? Because the freeways are impassable. If it takes 2 1/2 hours to get from Irvine to Pasadena on a Friday, and twenty minutes by helicopter, I suggest that legislators figure out ways to build more freeways and move traffic so that demand for helicopter travel evaporates. Legislating a symptom to go away is useless when the real problem goes ignored and unsolved.

Sep. 4, 2013, 11:54:25 pm

Reality check said...

I second a previous poster's sentiments: Santa Monica is truly full of whiny little snots.

Sep. 6, 2013, 9:31:06 am

j said...

If you are worried about police helicopters then you live in the wrong region. They are there for your safety and your selfishness is amazing. Do you want the police to catch the crook in your neighborhood or not? A little inconvenience is better than a suspect crawling into your house. But I bet you leave your doors unlocked. Thus isn't Mayberry. Get over it and support those who risk their lives for you.

Sep. 8, 2013, 8:35:43 pm

Midas said...

Come on people. You live in a city! Noise is part of daily life. Sirens, city buses, the garbage truck, drunk dudes, my neighbors TV, motorcycles... where does it end? If a few choppers are bugging you maybe you should consider living somewhere other than a city.

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