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FAA to address helicopter noise problems in Los Angeles

by AirTalk®

Helicopters fly over the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before the Boston Red Sox take on the Los Angeles Dodgers on March 29, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Look! Up in the sky! It’s … another annoying helicopter.

While they are definitely part of the culture in Los Angeles, that doesn’t mean that citizens accept them unconditionally.

With the closing of the 405 Freeway last July, the lack of automobile noise coupled with the choppers covering “Carmageddon,” Westsiders realized just how loud the police, news, paparazzi and touring helicopters can be.

Residents of the San Fernando Valley have been complaining about the noise for years, and in Pasadena there’s even a blog dedicated specifically to the annoyance of local police choppers.

“We do have an almost 500 mile square city that we try to cover. And you know when you look at 9500 or so police officers to do that it makes it very difficult. We recognize that and we deploy helicopters as a force multiplier to assist policing the city,” said Lieutenant Phil Smith, Assistant Commanding Officer, Air Support Division, LAPD.

The police are not the only helicopters that dominate the Los Angeles skyline. There are media choppers, private and corporate helicopters and of course medical ones. One of the groups that doesn’t want to take all the blame, according to Jeff Baugh, longtime airborne reporter for KNX and KFWB, is the legitimate broadcast news media.

“Not only am I an airborne reporter but I certainly live with a bunch of noise myself...The legitimate media here in Los Angeles we have a very distinguished past. I mean it’s aircraft that has brought the listeners of radio and the viewers of TV first reports of some major events here in Los Angeles,” said Baugh.

He admits that there is a problem when helicopters sit and hover over one area for long periods of time. Baugh says he and other media are working together to avoid this for the sake of everyone in Southern California.

Despite this, the complaints have become too much for Congressman Howard Berman (D-Valley Village) who petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration to attend a public hearing to address helicopter noise over Los Angeles County.

“I think there is an opportunity to bring some restrictions that protect the integrity of the neighborhoods. The airspace above the neighborhoods is kind of open right now and a lot of times there are great helicopter pilots that respect the residential community. And there’s some others that may not, particularly in the hillsides,” said Anthony Braswell, President, Neighborhood Council Valley Village.

Congressman Berman is hosting the event tonight tonight at 6:30 pm at Millikan Middle School in Sherman Oaks. It’s open to the entire community, and the public testimonies heard there will comprise an FAA report to be released within a year.

Weigh In:

What complaints do you have about the chopper buzz? Will you attend the meeting tonight? Is this simply just a part of life? And what about other areas of Los Angeles where helicopters serve as one of the main deterrents of crime? How can a compromise be reached there?


Anthony Braswell, President, Neighborhood Council Valley Village
Jeff Baugh, longtime airborne reporter for KNX and KFWB

Lieutenant Phil Smith, Assistant Commanding Officer, Air Support Division, Los Angeles Police Department

Information about the hearing tonight can be found here.

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