Supervisors Call for Action on Airplane Noise

August 26, 2015

Supervisors Call for Action on Airplane Noise

SAN JOSE – The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a resolution on Tuesday urging the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to address concerns about increased aircraft noise in Santa Clara County. Supervisor Joe Simitian proposed the resolution with Supervisor Dave Cortese in response to the increase in air traffic at low altitudes above Santa Clara, San Mateo, and Santa Cruz Counties.

Prior to 2013, arriving flights were split into different approaches, some arriving over land, others over San Francisco Bay. These varied flight plans dispersed the noise from the aircrafts and prevented any one city from experiencing a disproportionate amount of noise. Recently, however, the FAA has been directing flights to approach airports along a fixed, narrow “superhighway” that leads them above many Midpeninsula and South Bay cities at altitudes below 5,000 feet. 

On a city-by-city basis the numbers are startling. For Example, in 2014, the FAA received 587 complaints from Palo Alto residents, according to the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) Noise Abatement Office. By June of 2015, the FAA had received over 5,000 complaints from Palo Alto residents, a tenfold increase. 

“While this problem stretches over at least three counties, it certainly seems severe in our area,” Simitian said. “Just this last weekend I heard from folks in Saratoga, Mountain View and Menlo Park – all in a 24-hour period.” 

Jennifer Landesmann, active with the local group Sky Posse, lauded the Board’s actions. “We’re delighted with the resolutions recently passed by the County of Santa Clara and the City of Palo Alto,” Landesmann said. “We envision opportunities for air space redesign that will reduce noise and air pollution in such a way that no one is inequitably affected. We favor rerouting much of the air traffic over the Bay at higher altitudes. We look forward to collaborating with our neighbors to formulate a solution that is fair, safe, healthy, efficient, and quiet.” 

Simitian, who has been working closely with Congresswoman Anna Eshoo on the issue said, “Anna’s been doing the heavy lifting on this issue, but she and her colleague Congressman Sam Farr need the support of their local boards to help make the case with the FAA.”

The resolution adopted by the Board on Tuesday (5-0) calls on the FAA to mitigate the aircraft noise at ground level in Santa Clara County, as well as require more robust community engagement before flight paths are changed. 

“If it does nothing else,” Simitian​ said, “my hope is that this resolution strengthens the hand of our Congressional representatives in dealing with the FAA.” 

Attachment: Copy of Resolution​



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