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Lawmakers Propose Legislation to Minimize Helicopter Noise

Congressman Adam Schiff and other county lawmakers aim to regulate helicopter flight paths above Los Angeles County.

Lawmakers introduced legislation Tuesday to help minimize the noise and safety concerns caused by low-flying helicopters above residential neighborhoods.

Congressman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Senators Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and other Los Angeles County congressional leaders introduced the Los Angeles Residential Helicopter Noise Relief Act, which would require the Federal Aviation Administration to impose regulations on flight paths and set minimum altitudes for helicopters flying in Los Angeles County.

The lawmakers say the proposed legislation addresses the high volume of residential complaints regarding the level of noise from low-flying helicopters.

Schiff said that residents living in the Hollywood Hills, West Hollywood, Glendale, Pasadena and other parts of the San Gabriel Valley are especially impacted by the “intrusive, disruptive and often non-emergency” helicopter traffic above their neighborhoods.

Schiff attributed much of the noise to celebrity news media that follow stars on mundane errands throughout the area.

“The residents in these areas deserve peace and quiet, and if the FAA won’t act, Congress must pass this legislation to give residents the relief they need,” he said in a written statement.

The proposed bill is also intended to minimize commercial aircraft delays while exempting first responders and military aircrafts from the regulations.

Congressmen Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Brad Sherman, D-Calif., were also included in the bill.

“I hear complaints about helicopter noise from every part of the 33rd District—from Malibu to Brentwood to Benedict Canyon,” said Waxman.  “FAA regulation of the thunderous helicopter traffic over LA is long overdue.  And if the FAA won’t act, Congress must.” 

“The active participation of the FAA, community leaders and the helicopter industry can also help lead to substantial progress in developing solutions to better balance public safety and relief from excessive helicopter noise,” Sherman added.

Lawmakers hope the bill will go into effect within 12 months of being signed into law.

Fred Fonebonne February 07, 2013 at 12:18 AM
Here in Pasadena the problems are almost exclusively caused by police helicopters. They routinely fly a few hundred feet above ground, and often circle endlessly over routine traffic stops. The trouble is, the city has no policy guiding where and when the aircraft will respond to a call. As Police Chief Sanchez explained it, it is left to the pilots themselves to decide where to fly. That is not exactly the most reasonable policy, especially when it costs thousands of dollars an hour to keep the choppers in the air, dollars that might possibly be better spent on more patrols on the ground...you know, where the crime happens?
Donna Roberts February 07, 2013 at 12:41 AM
Exactly, Fred. It's ridiculous the mis-use of police helicopters for fairly routine matters, both in terms of resources/money and the unnecessary noise and commotion they cause for citizens.
George L. February 07, 2013 at 01:04 AM
And since it is a police helicopter, it will be exempt from the law that Representative Schiff is pushing in DC. If you want change at the local level, go to a city council meeting. Further, express your concerns about burning money at thousands of dollars an hour and how it can be better spent elsewhere. For the things I care about (or don't care about) I do it all the time in my city and every citizen, even the crazy ones, are given an opportunity to speak.
Ivan G February 07, 2013 at 01:07 AM
I live at the edge of the forest, so there are a lot of police helicopters for injured hikers, car wrecks and fires in addition to the more routine flights such as responding to robberies and burglaries. I am willing to tolerate the noise and the invasion of privacy.
Fred Fonebonne February 07, 2013 at 03:04 PM
George, I have attended several city council meetings. I am not the only one to bring this issue up. The city council refuses to even discuss the issue, which leads me to believe there is more than just noise going on here. Just how much is the city dependent on the Homeland Security money that partially paid for that new aircraft? Who's got a stake in it, and why is the whole program such a sacred cow?

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