Cities brace for more jet noise

LAX Found Worst in Runway Near-Crashes
LAX Found Worst in Runway Near-Crashes
David McNew/Getty Images

Listen to story

Download this story 0.0MB

The FAA's redesign of flight paths in and out of Southern California airports is getting some pushback from cities that fear they will get more jet noise when the plan goes into effect next month.

Culver City, Santa Monica and Monterey Park are among the cities bracing for more aircraft noise and issuing challenges of varying types against the FAA.

Meantime, the FAA has told other cities they should experience less or the same noise they do now. Inglewood Mayor James Butts says the FAA assures him that noise levels from planes on a glide path into LAX will not change much because so many planes already fly low over the city.

A citizen-designed map that uses FAA data to compare the existing noise to the expected future noise shows some areas will get less aircraft noise. Santa Ana, home to Orange County's John Wayne Airport, appears to gets quieter under the new plan.

Culver City resident Stephen Murray said his map shows the new flight paths will increase the overall number of people experiencing jet noise  across the Southern California region.

The FAA has been working for several years switch over to a satellite-guided landing and takeoff system to govern air routes around Southern California. The FAA's environmental study concluded that none of the changes in noise levels associated with the new system would not be "significant." It plans to phase in the new landing paths in phases beginning in November.

The new satellite-guided system will concentrate planes on narrower paths going in and out of airports.  Right now, planes come into airports on broad approaches, something like a four lane freeway. With the new satellite guidance systems, that air traffic could be compressed down to the air equivalent of a single lane.
Culver City is taking the most aggressive stance. Mayor Jim Clarke said the FAA's assurances that the new flight paths will not significantly increase jet noise are not persuasive. The city has long had an attorney working to analyze the new flight path. It's also lobbying local members of Congress about the changes and asking the public to attend an October 20 meeting at City Hall.

Culver City is also looking for partners in a challenge of the new flight paths, Clarke said.

"We're trying to identify right now other cities that are concerned about these that would be interested in joining with us," he said.

Clarke called  the FAA's environmental analysis of the new plan "inadequate."  
For its part, Santa Monica is concerned with the new flight paths at two airports LAX and its own municipal airport, which the city is trying to close. The new flight paths out of the Santa Monica Airport will put some 9,000 corporate jets and other small planes over parts of the city that have not previously had to cope with aircraft noise, said Nelson Hernandez, advisor to the city manager.
Flight paths are under the sole control of the FAA, not individual airports.
FAA spokesman Ian Gregor says the agency has changed some flight paths over Santa Monica and Culver City and other places in response to resident concerns.
Monterey Park is a city that's been fighting for quiet skies for decades, and the FAA is assuring it that the new flight paths will be better. But city officials remain skeptical, said City Manager Paul Talbot.
"They don't pay attention to the community. They pay attention to the planes in the air, and that's all they care about," Talbot said.
Monterey Park gets a lot of jet noise because many planes coming from Northern California and Asia make a U-turn over the city to get into the east-west glide path to LAX. Those planes tend to be flying over the hilly city at altitudes under 3,000 feet, and they rev their engines as they make the turns, adding to the noise, Talbot said.

The Monterey Park City Council is asking residents to attend a mid-November public meeting at which they want the FAA to describe the new flight paths.
The FAA is hosting local public meetings and webinars about the changes.

Oct. 25, 6- 9 p.m.
Griffith Middle School
4765 E. 4th Street, Los Angeles
Covering Los Angeles International and Santa Monica Municipal airports

Oct. 26, 6-9 p.m.
Palms Middle School
10860 Woodbine Street, Los Angeles
Covering Los Angeles International and Santa Monica Municipal airports

Oct. 27, 6-9 p.m.
Corky McMIlla Conference enter
Main Foyer Room A
2875 Dewey Road, San Diego
Covering San Diego International, McClellan-Palomar, Brown Municipal and Navy North Island airports