Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Congress: turn down the helicopter noise

helicopter hearing

Erika Aguilar/KPCC

Residents filled a Sherman Oaks middle school cafeteria last year to attend a public hearing hosted by the Federal Aviation Administration on noisy helicopters.

California lawmakers are once again pushing federal aviation officials to regulate helicopters flying over L.A. County neighborhoods. Residents have been complaining for years about the noise.

Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman understands the appeal of seeing movie star homes from the air, but he says with the canyons and the valleys in the L.A. area, the sound is amplified "and we’ve received many, many complaints about the excessive noise from these helicopters."

Waxman has joined California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, as well as House Democrats Brad Sherman and Adam Schiff, in reintroducing a bill requiring the Federal Aviation Administration to set guidelines on flight paths and minimum altitudes for choppers flying over L.A. County. 

Congressman Schiff says it wouldn’t eliminate all helicopter noise — police and emergency responders would be exempt from the restrictions. But he says it would have "the greatest impact on paparazzi that hovers over Lindsey Lohan’s apartment every time she has a court appearance or some of the tours in the Hollywood Hills or the Rose Bowl."

Schiff says he's had several meetings with neighborhood residents that were interrupted by helicopter noise. "They came flying overhead," he says, "and we had to cease the conversation until they left."

Southern California lawmakers have been urging the FAA to do something about helicopters over L.A. County for several years. The FAA is scheduled to release a report on chopper noise in May, but it may include guidelines rather than new rules. The bill would make regulations mandatory, not voluntary.

There is a precedent for helicopter restrictions: New York's Long Island already has chopper rules in place to restrict noise.

 

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House passes DNA bill, but Senate may run out of time

Senate Impeachment Committee Begins Hearing For District Judge Porteous

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-CA) says "Katie's Law" is designed to catch suspects who are falling through investigative cracks.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed “Katie’s Law.” It’s named for a college student who was raped and murdered by a man who had been arrested numerous times, but not tied to her crime for several years because his DNA hadn’t been collected. The measure’s sponsor is Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of Burbank, a former U.S. Attorney.

California already collects DNA from anyone arrested for a felony. Schiff says about half the states in the nation don’t.

"In those cases where it hasn’t been used," says Schiff, "people have gone on and murdered others or raped others and it’s just appalling that when we could take them off the street, when we could identify these people, that we don’t do it."

The bill provides funds to states for DNA collection kits to gather samples from those arrested for murder, sexual assault, kidnapping, burglary and aggravated assault. It uses money already set aside to help reduce a backlog of DNA cases.

Schiff says that backlog has been greatly reduced.  A regional DNA lab — funded by $1.5 million in federal dollars — just opened in Glendale to serve the Foothill communities and take the strain off L.A. County labs.

A Senate version of Katie’s Law still awaits a floor vote. If it isn’t taken up before the end of the year, Schiff’s bill will have to be re-introduced in the new Congress. 

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