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.