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FAA to gather helicopter noise complaints in Los Angeles

A Los Angeles Police Department Helicopter hovers over Highland Park in northeast Los Angeles on April 13, 2013.
A Los Angeles Police Department Helicopter hovers over Highland Park in northeast Los Angeles on April 13, 2013.
Grant Slater/KPCC

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Los Angeles residents will have a place to complain about helicopter noise starting next year, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

“While we are still waiting for final details ... the establishment of a countywide helicopter noise complaint system could be a significant development in our years-long fight to give L.A. residents the relief that they deserve,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) said in a statement Monday. He said it could start as soon as January.

RELATED: For more about noise and helicopters, read KPCC's series on LAPD's helicopters.

No vendor has been selected to run it. A spokesperson for the FAA said helicopter pilots and community groups will get a chance to make suggestions on how the complaint system will work.

“The data will help us better understand what kinds of operations are raising noise concerns,” said Ian Gregor, an FAA spokesperson. “What type of helicopter, what type of operation, what routes, what altitudes.”

The program will cost $250,000 and go on for a year, according to Schiff.

Setting up a helicopter noise complaint system was one of six recommendations highlighted in a report prepared by the FAA last year on how to reduce helicopter noise in Los Angeles.

It's been an on-going complaint since 2011's so-called Carmageddon closure of a stretch of the I-405 freeway - and the dozens of media and police helicopters helicopters that flew over it - drew attention to the issue. Neighborhood groups and politicians have been lobbying the FAA to do something about helicopter noise every since.

MORE: Los Angeles residents vent frustrations about helicopter noise at public hearing

“One of the biggest complaints that we get is, ‘where do I complain,’ ” said Bob Anderson, president of the Los Angeles Area Helicopter Noise Coalition, a neighborhood group. “And the sad answer that we’ve had to give back to them, is there is no where to complain.” 

Anderson said a coordinated system could validate complaints, narrowing where and when the helicopter noise is concentrated.

“It will quantify the supposed problem," said Chuck Street, executive director of the Los Angeles Area Helicopter Operators Association. He said pilots want to know who and what parts of Los Angeles submit the most complaints.

“If 75 percent of the complaints are coming from five people," he said, "that says a lot about the problem."

New York and Boston have already established helicopter noise complaint systems. Residents there can go online to fill out a form or leave a voice mail with their complaint.