Regulating choppers over WeHo

February 11, 2013

Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) last week introduced legislation that would require the Federal Aviation Administration to provide Los Angeles County residents relief from the noise and safety concerns caused by low-flying helicopters above residential neighborhoods.

The Los Angeles Residential Helicopter Noise Relief Act would establish regulations on flight paths and minimum altitudes for helicopter operations in Los Angeles County.

The Los Angeles Residential Helicopter Noise Relief Act would establish regulations on flight paths and minimum altitudes for helicopter operations in Los Angeles County. Feinstein and Schiff hope that the legislation will prompt the FAA to act, and if passed, will require the agency to finally address numerous resident complaints. They were joined by other Los Angeles congressional colleagues, including Congressmen Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Brad Sherman (D-Calif.).

“Los Angeles area residents living in Glendale, Pasadena, the Valley, the Hollywood Hills, West Hollywood and other areas are especially affected by intrusive, disruptive and often non-emergency related helicopter traffic above their neighborhoods,” said Congressman Schiff. “The terrain of canyons around the Rose Bowl concentrates low-flying helicopter noise to high levels, and Hollywood Hills and West Hollywood residents frequently suffer from noise generated by celebrity news media that follow stars to the beach, the grocery store, or for court appearances. 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.”

“LA County residents suffer from high levels of disruptive, low-flying helicopter traffic over their neighborhoods. This bill would address that problem by requiring the FAA to create regulations for how helicopters operate in the skies above Los Angeles,” said Senator Feinstein. “In addition to reducing noise, this bill would increase safety and minimize commercial aircraft delays while exempting first responders and military aircraft from its limitations. I look forward to working with Congressman Schiff and Senator Boxer to get this bill passed.

“This legislation will ensure that the FAA sets responsible guidelines that allow helicopters to continue to operate above Los Angeles while protecting residents from excessive noise associated with low-altitude flights,” said Senator Boxer.

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

“I am pleased to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation to urge the FAA to implement enforceable measures that provide meaningful more relief for Valley communities impacted by helicopter noise and to protect the safety of aircraft in the crowded skies above our metropolitan area,” said Congressman Sherman.  “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.”

Last year, Schiff and Feinstein wrote to Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood urging him to form a working group at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to solicit input from local communities and stakeholders on helicopter noise and safety issues across Los Angeles County. For the past year, that working group has been meeting with local residents, stakeholders and officials to discuss ways to move forward and adequately address the concerns and complaints of affected residents.

Under the legislation sponsored by Schiff, Feinstein and Boxer, the FAA would be required to exercise its legal authority to set guidelines on flight paths and minimum altitudes for helicopter operators in residential areas in Los Angeles County within 12 months of being signed into law. Exemptions would be provided for law enforcement, emergency responders and the U.S. military.

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