FAA to hear residents' complaints at public hearing on Los Angeles helicopter noise

A Robinson R44 helicopter in flight over Los Angeles, CA
A Robinson R44 helicopter in flight over Los Angeles, CA Baron Wolman/Getty Images

People in the San Fernando Valley will get to tell federal officials how they feel about helicopters that hover over their neighborhoods.

The Federal Aviation Administration is hosting a public hearing Monday evening to collect public comment on helicopter noise. The public forum follows years of complaints about window-shaking buzz, especially in the Van Nuys area where lots of helicopters and planes take off from the nearby airport.

Last year, Rep. Howard Berman tried to pass the Los Angeles Residential Helicopter Noise Relief Act. When it failed to launch, he and several other politicians called on the FAA to study and regulate the problem.

“A little discretion, a little sensitivity to communities and noise considerations can help a tremendous amount,” Berman said.

Southland skies are full of choppers that belong to law enforcement and paramedic agencies, media and tour companies. Berman wants to establish rules for helicopters he says serve little public purpose.

“What used to be viewed as the bus tour of celebrity homes has now become the helicopter tour of celebrity homes ... or landmarks,” he said.

Within a year, federal officials are supposed to draft a report on helicopter noise regulations.

For now, Ricardo Costa of northwest Pasadena has formed a neighborhood group to protest chopper activity there.

“The noise is what brings people to the group. It’s sort of the issue that's most ubiquitous, the most universal with everybody,” Costa said. “But it’s not necessarily the only or the most important issue for a lot of us.”

Costa said his important issues have to do with privacy and the costs and benefits of police helicopters. He calls the public hearing is a decent step toward starting a lively discussion about those matters later.

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