News

Spurned by the FAA, Palo Alto may sue over airplane noise

City Council voices frustrations about federal agency's failure to respond to city's concerns, requests for information

Frustrated by the Federal Aviation Administration's persistent failure to address local concerns about airplane noise, and with a new airplane route proposed that would send more traffic over Palo Alto, the City Council agreed on Monday to consider filing a lawsuit against the agency.

By a unanimous vote, the council directed staff to schedule a closed session in the coming weeks to discuss the move.

Since 2014, when the FAA began consolidating flight paths over Palo Alto as part of its NextGen program, the city has been submitting letters, commissioning lobbyists and joining regional groups in an effort to get the FAA's attention -- only to see its concerns about airplane noise fall upon deaf ears.

Now Palo Alto is protesting the FAA's new Star Pirat Two route, which applies to planes coming in from the west over the Pacific Ocean. After approaching the coast, the route concludes at what's known as the ARGGG waypoint near Woodside. From there, some planes bound for San Francisco Airport would be directed to a newly created waypoint called SIDBY, which is directly over Palo Alto.

"You can see Palo Alto is basically a direct bullseye (for planes) coming in from where ARGGG is," Palo Alto Assistant City Manager Michelle Poche Flaherty said during a Monday discussion of airplane noise.

The FAA did make one promising gesture when it agreed to keep aircraft at an altitude of at least 8,000 feet over sea level at the Woodside waypoint. Even so, Palo Alto is expecting more noise from the agency's new plan. Flaherty noted that the route -- now seldom used and accounting for about 4 percent of local air traffic -- could be used by many more airlines, including those arriving to Oakland Airport.

"So we have expressed in a couple of letters to the FAA from the city that the Pirat Star route may indeed increase volume and we are concerned about what the community impacts might be of such volume increases," Flaherty said.

The latest of these letters, sent on May 6, urges the agency to be more transparent in its communications with communities under its flight paths. Signed by Mayor Eric Filseth, the letter lauds the FAA for some of its recent changes but raises concerns about the agency's latest plans.

"In addition to concerns about the lack of outreach, we are concerned that through the publication of Pirat Star Two, air traffic will increase in volume as more airlines will have access to the route," the letter states. "Traffic will also increase as aircraft en route to Oakland International Airport will also be able to use the route."

The city has a good reason not to expect a response. The FAA has consistently ignored the city's letters and requests for information, according to city officials. Last October, the city submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act for background documents, including environmental analysis, justifying the changes. According to the city, the agency responded with a request that the city pays copying and search fees. When the city agreed to do so, the FAA informed it that the documentation would be made available by March 29, the deadline for comments on the Star Pira Two proposal (later, the agency delayed its release to a date beyond the March 29 deadline).

An in-person meeting in 2017 between three City Council members and FAA officials also proved to be a futile effort, with the Palo Alto contingent leaving Washington, D.C., exasperated by the agency's failure to respond.

Vice Mayor Adrian Fine, who participated in that meeting, on Tuesday described the city's work on airplane noise as a "tough, tedious and sometimes fruitless work." The progress, he acknowledged, has been slow.

"This really is a marathon rather than a sprint," Fine said.

To buy itself some time to respond to the FAA's new plans, the council agreed to request that the agency approve a "tolling agreement," effectively extending the comment period for its latest procedure changes, which the agency announced on April 25. Councilwoman Lydia Kou, who made the motion to "stop the shot clock," said the FAA should delay its final order until the city gets answers on the impacts of Pirat Two on Palo Alto, Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Mountain View and Stanford University.

But mindful of the 60-day time comment period, Kou also suggested that the council meet in a closed session in early June to discuss possible legal actions against the FAA. The council unanimously supported both of her suggestions.

Residents also encouraged that the city take a more aggressive action against the FAA. As at prior meetings, dozens attended and many complained about the onslaught of noise that they have to endure.

Tom Shannon said he tracked 46 planes flying over his house over a five-hour period one morning earlier this month.

"That's nine per hour, or one every six minutes. ... There are people who are no longer able to sit on a deck and enjoy a cup of coffee without being interrupted every six minutes," Shannon said.

Osborne Hardison, a resident of south Palo Alto, observed that the city's history of writing letters to the FAA has proven to be unproductive. At what point, he aside, will the city actually consider suing the FAA?

"It seems like we're dealing with a fixed game and they have no incentive at all to listen to our needs," Hardison said.

The council concurred and agreed to meet with its attorneys a closed session on or before June 10. This will be the second time in a little over a year that the council is considering a lawsuit against the FAA. In April 2018, the council met in a closed session and ultimately opted not to sue, reasoning that it would be more productive to forge partnerships and address the issue as a region.

That approach has borne some fruit. Palo Alto and other cities in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties have recently formed a roundtable group devoted to the subject of airplane noise. The group is similar to the San Francisco Airport Roundtable, which limits its membership to San Francisco and San Mateo counties. Palo Alto has also collaborated with San Francisco Airport on installing noise monitors around Palo Alto to gauge the level of aircraft noise.

To date, however, stronger alliances have not translated to success. Councilwoman Alison Cormack observed on Monday that airplane noise is a difficult problem and the city has few options.

"I know people are frustrated and I hear those frustrations," Cormack said.

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Comments

7 people like this
Posted by Thad
a resident of another community
on May 21, 2019 at 6:52 am

I guess this will be solved when PA builds the new pedestrian bridge across 101 and the grade separation of Caltrain is done... aka never.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2019 at 6:59 am

On another note, it seems we will soon be able to get a helicopter taxi to airports to beat the traffic. Web Link


12 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 21, 2019 at 7:45 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

A law suit was filed by the State of Maryland regarding the change in flight paths to Baltimore BWI. FAA never gave notice or considered impact on certain counties. Now BWI wants to increase facility size and number of airlines coming in. Problem is not specific to west coast. The FAA in total is a mess, including the Boeing situation which is now a major problem. Given their history time to get a law suit going for major cities in the area - only way they react to anything.


18 people like this
Posted by flyover country
a resident of Green Acres
on May 21, 2019 at 8:42 am

The towns of San Bruno, SSF, Foster City, Millbrae, etc.. just curled up on a couch with a bowl of popcorn, seeking entertainment.


11 people like this
Posted by Lucky Lawyers
a resident of Community Center
on May 21, 2019 at 9:12 am

Is the City Attorney handling this lawsuit or is it being farmed out to an outside law firm?

If so...more billings and billable hours at taxpayer expense.

Next on the agenda...suing Shoreline Amphitheater.


15 people like this
Posted by Here We Go
a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2019 at 11:16 am

I applaud the City Council for standing up to the FAA and advocating for our interests, as I note Rep. Eshoo and our very own Sky Posse have done as well. The FAA has purposefully and studiously ignored our requests for relief, and our proposals for steeper approach pathing, in favor of airline profits and more movements per hour at SFO. This is an untenable state of affairs. That said, I strongly believe that the decision to pursue action in the courts should be discussed and taken publicly. There is a storied history of municipalities and individuals filing cases against the FAA and losing, largely because the FAA fights tooth and nail on every case that would limit its authority to route aircraft, and because it has a wide administrative remit to ignore impact in favor of airspace availability. If we're going to go all in before the courts, I would like some assurances from the Council's attorneys that there is something new to be litigated here, and that we aren't throwing good money after bad. If we're going to do this right, it's going to cost millions of dollars in attorneys fees before we can even think of a chance of success. For that money, surely we could lobby Congress for a rider on the DoT appropriations bill that protects Palo Alto airspace. Let's make sure that all options are on the table, and that we're being realistic about the cost.


13 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2019 at 11:22 am

The FAA successfully ignores every public agency from the town of Podunk to other big US Government agencies. Legally, they seem to be in their own, separate silo. The FAA does seem to listen to Boeing, though. So, forget wasting taxpayer money on a lawsuit. But, if we could get Boeing to lobby for route changes, that might work. In the meantime-- please don't waste time and money on this.


8 people like this
Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2019 at 11:58 am

FAA routed noise, high tension power lines, and cell towers are among the inconveniences of city living. Just live with it, or move somewhere like Wyoming or North Dakota.


9 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2019 at 12:14 pm

Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park

>> FAA routed noise, high tension power lines, and cell towers are among the inconveniences of city living. Just live with it, or move somewhere like Wyoming or North Dakota.

LOL. Reminds me of when I went camping in a remote area. About 8000 feet elevation. Turned out the remote, quiet location was on an approach path for a major airport 70 miles away. At 8000 feet, you are only 7000 feet away from a descending aircraft at 15,000 feet. Thankfully, those Stage 1 aircraft are now retired, and, most of the Stage 2 aircraft are now gone. An Airbus A-380 flying overhead at 4000 feet is much, much less annoying that a B727 or DC9 7000 feet overhead.

IOW, this is a case where new technology can actually help.


9 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on May 21, 2019 at 12:15 pm

"But, if we could get Boeing to lobby for route changes, that might work."

There's an idea. It would be in Boeing's interest to get the FAA to order Airbus 320s be retrofitted with whistle suppressors, which might cause some airlines to decide to just switch to 737s. Let's team up.


19 people like this
Posted by Bob Wenzlau
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 21, 2019 at 12:39 pm

Bob Wenzlau is a registered user.

My own perspective is a bit different. While we are addressing noise impacts, we are starting a challenge of a regional airport that is a challenge so big it is akin to boiling the ocean in terms of making an impact - our community standing is weak in this challenge. I would prefer to see Palo Alto make progress on noise where we can have impact and have standing. The focus would be on locally generated noise, not regional noise.

Two examples - leaf blowers and our local airport.

Leaf Blowers. These machines make a ton of noise and pollution. Gas blowers are illegal in Palo Alto, but Palo Alto opts not to enforce. The party to enforce against is now the contractor and not the home owner. First, any "anti-noise" proponent/citizen must take the individual action to stop the use of gas blowers on their property. Second, the current regulation should have the homeowner - not the contractor - be the enforced party. Finally it would be great if the city's 311 app could allow reporting of blowers be convenient.

Palo Alto Airport. Our own airport generates aircraft noise. All the community focus on airplane noise is focused on our regional San Francisco airport. Even as a "beta" test, why does not our City, which owns an airport, address the noise that our local airport generates? I am not aware of any systematic approach for our airport which to address low flying aircraft that arrive and depart.

In the long run, Palo Alto's integrity on this noise challenge would be stronger if we addressed noise issues where we actually have control and generate impact, rather than focusing only to noise impacts occurring outside our community's sphere of influence.


13 people like this
Posted by Screed
a resident of Stanford
on May 21, 2019 at 1:01 pm

The FAA has two main goals: to ensure the safety of air travel and to encourage air travel. Aircraft noise is a few steps down the list.

What the residents really want is for the FAA to close airports and/or redirect flights over other (read: poorer) neighborhoods.


1 person likes this
Posted by peanut gallery
a resident of Community Center
on May 21, 2019 at 1:25 pm

Bob Wenzlau,

"boiling the ocean"

Really? Didn't Palo Alto Council just choose climate change as a 2019 priority?

This year will be gone any day now. Maybe leaf blowers are next.


18 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 21, 2019 at 1:53 pm

> I would prefer to see Palo Alto make progress on noise where we can have impact and have standing. The focus would be on locally generated noise, not regional noise.

Leaf blowers????

Leaf blowers don't operate in the wee hours of the morning. That is amazingly lame.

Our local airport seems to be powerless to stop or even suggest that local pilots either refrain from flying over the city or do it during daylight working hours at a reasonable altitude. The Palo Alto airport would be shut down if it was up to me. Planes from the local airport ruin recreation in the Baylands park where it is hard to have a conversation even if you are yelling, or to even hear audio from your own smartphone without turning the volume up to the hearing damage level.


7 people like this
Posted by Old Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2019 at 2:33 pm

All you’re doing is lowering home prices with all this complaining.
Knock it off and get out of the 60s.
We have bigger fish to fry.


6 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 21, 2019 at 3:43 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Lowering home prices would actually be a very good thing.

I hate the air traffic noise with a passion, but as long as the city does not enforce the leaf blower ban, it has no ground to stand on, since leaf blowers create great noise and air pollution, the ordinance to ban them already exists, yet the city still won't enforce it. This applies even more to the totally unnecessary, dangerous and polluting local airport. As long as the airport stays open, suing the FAA seems quite hypocritical.


7 people like this
Posted by Bob Wenzlau
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 21, 2019 at 5:28 pm

Bob Wenzlau is a registered user.

CrescentParkAnon. I wonder why you would judge this lame - this is a tough crowd when you want to hide behind a fake name. That you are in Crescent Park, we share the same community, and as such I ask for a bit of respect. Why don't you stop by and say hello, and be a neighbor that you are.

As for blowers ,let me say that on the weekend I like to sit in my yard, and I don't like it when the houses around me have the gardeners making noise from the gas blowers. In fact the blower sound lasts about 20 minutes compared to the sound of a jet. So in your attack on "lameness", balance that we have different needs - I like my time in the day to have some quiet as well. It is hard to hear a jet flying low over the sound of a gas blower.

As to the local airport and powerlessness - I think that is the test, if we can't control our local airport and affect change there, how could we imagine going getting an administration that loathes anything from California is going to take any interest in our campaign. It is a worthy challenge even if the city were to take 5% of the legal fees they will spend on litigation with our federal government. (I know that our airport is likely governed by the same crowd, but in the case of our airport we have standing as we own the land, and pay most of the employees.)


3 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 21, 2019 at 6:02 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Leaf Blowers - we live in a city of trees. In fact I read that we are going to plant 1,000 more trees. Trees are big business in this city. And trees drop leaves. Especially now in the storms branches are coming off. Some people live in Condos where the majority of space is taken up with concrete and small plantings. Other people live on lots with major trees that city will not allow you to take down. I am surrounded by redwoods but no way the messy tree is going to come down. The city will not allow it. So Bob lives in Crescent Park which has bigger lots that have lots of trees. And the neighbors do not appreciate messy yards. The city has already committed to a "higher value" and that is lots of trees with lots of leaves. I think I am going to invest in a new leaf blower that is battery driven.


5 people like this
Posted by ChrisC
a resident of Community Center
on May 21, 2019 at 6:27 pm

FYI -- Palo Alto airport has noise abatement procedures which pilots are strongly encouraged to follow. In short planes turn towards the bay just after departure to decrease the noise impact on homes. Also they climb until they reach the Dunbarton bridge before turning to fly over Palo Alto, and also stay over 1500' when flying towards the airport until they cross 101.

Pilots which violate these procedures tend to get chewed out by their peers, as everyone using the airport wants to keep the neighbors happy.


1 person likes this
Posted by peanut gallery
a resident of Community Center
on May 21, 2019 at 7:42 pm

This is an interesting contrast

1.Leaf blowers

2.Palo Alto Airport

3.SFO

4. Why not add unruly 2 year old?

of all of these - only one has so far potentially actually broken federal environmental laws which impact not just a few annoyed people.

I have heard that Elon Musk is coming up with a leaf blower


Like this comment
Posted by peanut gallery
a resident of Community Center
on May 21, 2019 at 7:46 pm

Make that

1.Leaf blowers

2.Palo Alto Airport

3.SFO ---- really FAA and the PIRAT

4. Why not add unruly 2 year old?

SFO didn't break the laws, but FAA may have - otherwise there would be no basis to ask for a toll


20 people like this
Posted by Jet Man
a resident of another community
on May 21, 2019 at 8:40 pm

I am a victim of FAA NextGen. I live 10 miles from BWI. TEN MILES!!! I have jets at 80dB 150 times a day from 4:30 a.m. until 12 midnight. I can only sleep FOUR HOURS A NIGHT!!! There is only one thing I know about the FAA- they are liars!!! Don’t believe them! I’m not crazy or overly sensitive to jets- just look at airnoise.io statistics- BWI went from 300 complaints a month to 40,000 per month under NextGen departures. That’s over 100-fold increase in complaints! ONE HUNDRED FOLD!!! That can’t be just a few overly sensitive individuals causing such an increase. I can tell you from the total noise data that what FAA is calling minimal impact is bullshit!!! They are flying 150 jets a day right at the mixing layer 4500-5000 feet at TEN MILES from BWI, hitting about 80dB each time. That is a NIGHT AND DAY change from normal procedure above 10,000 feet and staggering the flights. The FAA changes the flights whenever there is a noise investigation, then goes right back to their noise when the study is done. The FAA refuses to grant FOIA requests- which could only be because the FAA is hiding lies and corruption. They have been found to be corrupt many times because their mission is to support the airline industry. THE FAA SHOULD NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR PROTECTING AMERICANS FROM AIRLINE POLLUTION AND NOISE. EPA NEEDS TO GET THEIR POWERS BACK TO PROTECT US with NEUTRAL, OBJECTIVE, THIRD PARTY ANALYSIS OF THE POLLUTION AND NOISE. The FAA will turn your community into a JET GHETTO!!! Every community that they convert to NextGen, they go to a reporter and get a very positive story published. They are misusing media for their agenda. Go get the facts from Quiet Skies coalitions around the country, anyone can tell you that FAA told them “don’t worry” and then ruined their lives. It's time to remove ALL FORMER AIRLINE INDUSTRY EXECS FROM FAA!!!!!!!!!! FAA IS UNAMERICAN, CORRUPT, COLLUDING WITH INDUSTRY, IN A STATE OF REGULATORY CAPTURE, AND IS DESTROYING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF LIVES!!!!!


4 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 21, 2019 at 8:53 pm

We won't/can't even enforce our 25 mph speed limits.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2019 at 9:21 pm

Posted by Jet Man, a resident of another community


>> It's time to remove ALL FORMER AIRLINE INDUSTRY EXECS FROM FAA!!!!!!!!!! FAA IS UNAMERICAN, CORRUPT, COLLUDING WITH INDUSTRY, IN A STATE OF REGULATORY CAPTURE, AND IS DESTROYING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF LIVES!!!!!

Get your story straight, man. Nothing "UNAMERICAN" about all that. The FAA is doing its job. The FAA won't change. You need to change. Find a better location to live.

One cool thing they have is a nearby BWI rail station for Amtrak.


20 people like this
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 21, 2019 at 9:47 pm

The only real leverage Palo Alto has over the FAA is the threat of shutting down Palo Alto Airport. In order for that threat to be credible, Palo Alto needs to stop begging for FAA Airport Improvement Grants that come with strings that require Palo Alto to give the FAA effective control of the airport.

Palo Alto needs to stop pleading with the FAA while begging for handouts and start playing hardball.


10 people like this
Posted by May L
a resident of Downtown North
on May 21, 2019 at 9:54 pm

WELL IT'S ABOUT TIME AND A FEW YEARS LATE!!! Nextgen was online in 2014,205 it is 2019 what took so long??? FAA (note alot of their people are from the airline industry) is in it for the airlines to help them maximimize their profits. Squeeze as many flights out of the airports and who cares about the neighborhoods who have to deal with the constant loud flights ever few minutes? Who cares about our quality of life at the FAA? NO ONE.


5 people like this
Posted by Raymond
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 21, 2019 at 10:10 pm

This comment at sfgate.com has a good point, did Palo Alto ever think of banning with the other cities on the Peninsula to sue the FAA? The noise problem isn't just specific to our city but other cities as well. Nextgen has affected not just local cities but cities across the US as well.

I have been filing complaints at Web Link. Judging from the high number of complaints compared to before 2015 I am sure alot of cities are already upset at Nextgen, a real FAA fail.

Link: Web Link


Why just Palo Alto???? SF, Brisbane, Pacifica, Santa Cruz, Daly City, San Mateo, Millbrae, Foster City, etc should ALL BAN TOGETHER and sue. That would be a "noise" heard up to the FAA. Nextgen was flawed from the beginning and there was no EPA oversight or consultation with local city governments or residents with the lower attitudes that would bring particulate matter and noise closer over residential neighborhoods. Fix paths at lower attitudes turned once quiet neighborhoods into airplane highways in the sky after 2015 when the system was turned on. Planes flying so low at helicopter attitudes was unimaginable before 2015. There is a safety issue here to should something happen to a plane God forbid will there be enough buffer to avoid crashing into a residential area. FAA is only focused on one thing helping airlines make $$$. Look at SFO the new terminal and hotel built it is all for $$$ they saw the FAA giving the greenlight for airlines with Nextgen to make mo money mo money.


Like this comment
Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Downtown North
on May 21, 2019 at 10:14 pm

> it seems we will soon be able to get a helicopter taxi
> to airports to beat the traffic.

If memory serves, this service was offered out of the PA Airport in the late 1960s.

It didn't last too long. Seems driving to SFO was less expensive that the helicopter ride.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 21, 2019 at 10:21 pm

SFO serves close to 60,000,000 passengers annually, arriving and/or departing.
Seems to be more concern over the carbon than the noise. And still they travel.


18 people like this
Posted by Thomas
a resident of Barron Park
on May 21, 2019 at 10:25 pm

JetMan takes for your sharing you are right on!

The Nextgen mess is real and over our heads.

Everyday I see the flights coming from the South in a straight line and flights looping from the North around Page Mill. It never ends, every few minutes the planes just fly by. I see this big jets flying so low on those loops. It's insane. The engines roar or have a high pitch sound and it's irritating when your windows are open. I want my peace and quiet back, years ago seemed to be much quieter around here. How can this be acceptable for a city that is not even next to the airport?




10 people like this
Posted by steve
a resident of another community
on May 21, 2019 at 10:27 pm

49 USC § 40103 - Sovereignty and use of airspace
(a) Sovereignty and Public Right of Transit.—
(1) The United States Government has exclusive sovereignty of airspace of the United States.

Only the FAA may regulate flight.
Only the FAA may create a no-fly-zone

This has been the law for several decades - almost a century. If every town, city and state could regulate flight, pilots would have to contend with thousands of different sets of regulations.

Do you really think that spending a few million dollars suing the FAA is something new? Dozens of cities have tried, and all have lost, or at best received a compromise. No one wins. And none have ever recovered their court and attorney costs.

But, if the City of Palo Alto wants to throw a few million dollars into a wasted effort, go ahead.


14 people like this
Posted by Wu
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 21, 2019 at 10:32 pm

Phoenix sued check out the article at the bottom. Phoenix good job!

“The FAA took this step that negatively impacted the lives of thousands of Phoenix residents without seeking meaningful input from our community or the City. That’s just wrong. Today’s decision affirms that the FAA needs to go back to the drawing board and do this right.”
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton



“This ruling is good news for the city, but great news for the impacted neighborhoods who have been fighting these changes for the past three years. I would like to thank all of those involved in providing their expertise, including financial and emotional support. Our community needed a victory, and this result gives me great faith in the judicial process.”

Phoenix Vice Mayor Laura Pastor

Web Link
of-appeals-rules-in-favor-of-city-neighborhoods-in-faa-flight-paths-lawsuit


Like this comment
Posted by Wu
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 21, 2019 at 10:35 pm

Link was broken:

Web Link



10 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on May 21, 2019 at 11:01 pm

"It is hard to hear a jet flying low over the sound of a gas blower."

Gasoline-burning leaf blowers are nominally illegal in residential areas. Call the police on 'em at 650-329-2413, then pray for a response.


"As to the local airport and powerlessness - I think that is the test, if we can't control our local airport and affect change there, ... "

That airport is a municipal toy and nexus of civic ego, so it's gonna stay. Better learn to live with it.


18 people like this
Posted by guest
a resident of Stanford
on May 21, 2019 at 11:14 pm

The all-night booming aircraft noise is constant and insane. It makes it impossible to sleep without some loud source of white noise, which is terrible. In many cases planes fly very low and loud below 5000 feet.

Within a mile or two of the medical center, the situation gets even worse due to helicopter noise and constant loud yet very hard-to-localize sirens which seem to serve little purpose.


17 people like this
Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 22, 2019 at 12:00 am

Mainstream Party functionaries in Palo Alto are subservient to the political leadership in San Francisco. The San Francisco owned and operated business known as SFO contributes $40-50 million dollars per year into the city of San Francisco's general fund. SFO's contribution to the city's general fund is desperately needed to keep the failed urban experiment known as San Francisco looking like a shining city on a hill to the average low-information national voter. Nancy Pelosi, Diane Feinstein, and London Breed like the new crowded "nextgen" approach routes into SFO right where they are and no mainstream Democrat in Palo Alto or on the Peninsula has the spine to call them on it.


13 people like this
Posted by Marty
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 22, 2019 at 1:40 am

The idea that our tiny little city is going to sue the FAA is laughable. This is a federal agency that is destroying us with commercial noise pollution. Why aren't we leaning on our federal representatives--Feinstein, Eshoo, etc.--to do something? And since they have failed miserably for over 4 years, why are we only angry at the FAA--why aren't we angry at Eshoo, et al?


20 people like this
Posted by Majorie
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 22, 2019 at 9:46 am

I don't think you can compare noise from a plane with a gas powered leaf blower. For one thing, people are not operating leaf blowers at midnight, but we have planes flying 3500 feet above my house at midnight -- my home shakes when this happens. I would take leaf blowers in the daytime over planes flying at night and early in the morning anyday!


17 people like this
Posted by Lily W.
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 22, 2019 at 3:13 pm

In addition to noise pollution one thing overlooked is air pollution:

Good LA times article:

Web Link


15 people like this
Posted by Lily W.
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 22, 2019 at 3:15 pm

I agree with the earlier comment where are OUR government representatives????

Phoneix area did a good job to get the FAA notice their concerns when they all banded together!


6 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 22, 2019 at 5:22 pm

> CrescentParkAnon. I wonder why you would judge this lame

Sorry if I offended your feelings Bob, but I am not the only one who thinks putting these two noise annoyances, aircraft and leaf blowers, in the same category is lame. I mean, think about it. It is hard enough to see any change for the better in his city that serves the residents without trying to complicate the issue by lumping multiple unrelated problems together to solve or even discuss at the same time.

According to the law, or what others state is the law, and as far as I know, the leaf blower problem is already squared away.

Peace!


7 people like this
Posted by Tony Verreos
a resident of another community
on May 24, 2019 at 12:07 am

Palo Alto has failed to reach out to those of us nearest SFO who are most involved in this issue. While we advocated to group sue the FAA years ago as Phoenix did - and for the same reasons, almost every City Attorney has argued caution. City Councils feared the costs. At the same time, before the creation of the new South Bay Roundtable, the SFO Roundtable served as a perfect example of impotence unable to protect the public, and unwilling to admit it. The former chair was giddy at the prospect of "negotiating with the FAA". We told him that was a fools errand, but he wouldn't listen. What came of that was 2 years wasted + consulting fees + the public suffering while most of the City representatives just sat there like grave markers!

The latest is that Santa Cruz is getting traction for what they want for themselves. Santa Cruz like Palo Alto never once contacted us to coordinate efforts. Why should they? They are bigger, better organized, and have plenty of money. They don't need us. Palo Alto thought the same thing. Now Palo Alto is getting a lesson in dealing with the FAA. The FAA couldn't care less about any of us. Our strength, if we have any, will be in sticking together to demand a unified plan. The FAA's plan is a simple one: they did what they wanted to do, now they will continue to do as little to change that as possible. How will you make them change?

Our plan at STOP Jet Noise NOW! SFOAK Northern San Mateo is stated in our national petition STOP Jet Noise NOW! America - you can view and sign on MoveOn.org. We have 742 signers coast to coast at present. Your groups could easily double that in a day or two if you were to get on board.

The plan: FAA REVERT now to Pre-NextGen flight paths and procedures as a starting point. Then make no further changes without proving to local communities that the changes will first do no harm.

NOTE: Being polite to the FAA, and praising them for anything is a mistake.
They have abuse us and stolen our quality of life from us. It's far
worse for some cities than for others, but it's all bad. Start
making the only demand that matters = REVERT!


7 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 24, 2019 at 11:44 am

Posted by Tony Verreos, a resident of another community

>> The plan: FAA REVERT now to Pre-NextGen flight paths and procedures as a starting point. Then make no further changes without proving to local communities that the changes will first do no harm.

You make some interesting points, but, the above "plan" is misdirected. NextGen provides a suite of capabilities that are already helping airlines and airports. They aren't going to give up -all- those capabilities.

The real problem seems to be that NextGen has been used primarily to increase throughput during peak times and allow airlines to schedule more arrivals during peak times with greater likelihood of ontime arrivals. See this report, for example ( 1.5 years old):

Web Link

-Sadly-, noise abatement is explicitly stated as -last- in priority order-- see page 17. And, the implementation appears only to be very specific, e.g. to a few runways in the northeast corridor: e.g., changes wrt PHL 9R, 17, 27R, 35 to reduce noise at PHL.

So, even though NextGen could have allowed optimization for reducing fuel use AND noise abatement simultaneously, instead, its capabilities are being used to land more flights on-time right before 5 PM at JFK and PHL - or whatever. The report describes a lot of -scheduling- successes.

If you want to lobby the industry/FAA, you need different optimization goals: reduction of fuel use (think global warming) and noise abatement. To do that, fuel efficiency and noise reduction need to be at the top of the priority list. Fuel efficiency isn't even in the priority list, and, noise abatement is at the bottom, despite the fact that Performance Based Navigation (PBN) appears to be capable of improving both.

Change the priorities, don't demand that the industry give up all the new capabilities. As I read the report, the routes that optimize fuel usage could result in steeper descents over the Bay, with reduced noise over every peninsula city. The "cost" would be a reduction in the rate of landings at, say, right before Noon. Not what we as "consumers" apparently want, but what we as residents want.


2 people like this
Posted by HitTheMoney
a resident of another community
on May 30, 2019 at 10:43 am

Noise Control Act 1972 (federal program to protect human health from noise and minimize annoyance of noise)

Surgeon General William H. Stewart (served under both Lyndon B. Johnson and Nixon) in his keynote address at the 1968 Conference on Noise as a Public Health Hazard:

"Must we wait until we prove every link in the chain of causation?"
"In protecting health, absolute proof comes late. To wait for it is to invite disaster or to prolong suffering unnecessarily."

A lot is known about the disastrous effects of noise pollution on human health and the environment, and a lot is known about how to eliminate and minimize those effects.

Our Congress has mandated a total regress on human health and the environment. And Congress has done nothing substantive to right the wrong of making 24/7 low-altitude flight paths nationwide legal. Every airport and airline, EVERYTHING aviation related, is choking on public money to expand. To hell with people on the ground. To hell with the environment. To hell with future generations.

We need the flight shame movement to kick off in Sweden. Don't fly or ship by air unless absolutely necessary - cut all inessential use of aviation. Profit loss is the only message that will be heard.

Subsidies, of every form, should be cut. And frequent flyers, gross polluters, should not pay less for a ticket than people who fly less, pollute less. These reward programs, paid for by public subsidy and on the backs of those who fly less, must be eliminated.

Enough talk, studies, lawsuits against the government, which is essentially a lawsuit against ourselves since the government will fight back with public money.

Congress, congress, congress... Our federal legislators. But wait, not only have they OK'd the current hell, drones and supersonic have been mandated into the mix with the last reauthorization bill.


4 people like this
Posted by HitTheMoney
a resident of another community
on May 30, 2019 at 10:52 am

Meant to say:

We need the flight shame movement to kick off HERE as in Sweden. Flygskam/flight shame movement is in response to the fact that flying as the biggest climate impact per distance traveled. It is the most inefficient and polluting form of transport and far from expanding capacity at every airport as is currently happening, we should be cutting back on it drastically. No politician with any integrity can talk about the environment, bang on about climate change, and be for expansion of air transport. And no citizen angered by the crime of the FAA NextGen program should be using air travel and shipping for inessentials.

Throughout history, when people have taken issue with the behavior of a company or an industry, they teach it a lesson it can't ignore and they strike its profits. People before profits. Otherwise, what is this thing we call society?


6 people like this
Posted by tony Verreos
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 5, 2019 at 10:04 pm

To whomever the Anon is that thinks they know so much about the FAA and NextGen. It's hard enough to have a discussion with people in this format when everyone is playing by the same rules, but when you decide to make it up as you go along, that cheats all readers. When I say REVERT to the Pre-NextGen flight paths and procedures, I never said not implied to get rid of NextGen. Our problem is not the Billions spent on NextGen by the FAA. No, our problem is the way the FAA has chosen to use NextGen as a weapon against us.

The FAA lied in Phoenix when it told the court it is impossible to REVERT. Now it is clear that its just a matter of re-programming. It's not too hard. It's just NOT what the FAA wants to do. As for Airlines, they just want to ring the cash register. I read some airlines felt misled by the FAA regarding the costs to retrofit planes to work with NextGen. Not our problem. It ticket prices need to rise to cover added costs to make flying safer and less polluting, I'm sure people will pay those costs rather than give up flying.


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 9, 2019 at 4:09 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

For all of you airplane fans there is a story on the History Channel tonight 06/09 from 9PM to 11PM on the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. Lota of footage and stories here. High and fast flying.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 9, 2019 at 5:30 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Palo Alto wants the traffic to be moved somewhere else.

Unless Palo Alto can show where to put the traffic so that impacts fewer people then Palo Alto will fail in its efforts.

Please support a better solution!

OK, let’s develop a Draft SFO Approach Protocol which is based on simplicity, equity and technical feasibility.

As a starting point I recommend the following report:

An AEF Report for HACAN on:
Approach Noise at Heathrow: Concentrating the Problem

Here is the full report:
Web Link

Here are some highly relevant excerpts:

“And the solution that has been championed concerns air traffic management, specifically the more
widespread use of Continuous Descent Approaches (CDAs). Traditional approach paths involved
aircraft descending through different blocks of airspace in a series of steps, using flaps and power
changes to manage speed. In CDAs, in contrast, aircraft descend into the airport at a steady 3
degrees; while there will still be some noise from the engine, additional noise from the aircraft itself
is reduced. This procedure, combined with the use of P‐RNAV and changes to the joining point for
final approach, have increased the concentration of aircraft along corridors. For pilots, this reduces
the number of factors having to be taken into account when landing. For Government, it helps to
satisfy the environmental objective of minimising the number of people affected by aircraft noise
when determining arrival and departure paths and airspace revisions.
Changes in the joining point to optimise Continuous Descent Approaches have produced as many
losers as winners: it has resulted in more concentration of flight paths many miles from the airport.”

“But alternative approaches do exist…..a number of schemes are being trialled at airports around
the world or at least being assessed.

To deal with the issue of concentration of traffic, some airports have been trialling curved CDA
approaches. This gives the benefit of a continuous descent but allows air traffic controllers to have
several CDA approaches – more akin to the fanning effect of traditional approach paths – reducing
the number of overflights in any given place. Other airports have also looked at using curved CDA to
join the final straight approach at different points, effectively a herring bone pattern.”

Here is a diagram of such a herring bone pattern:
Web Link

****************************







""those who are familiar with the new technologies suggest the fixes are not nearly so complicated and primarily involve some common sense adjustments to increase altitudes of planes when they cross the Peninsula"

I have posted two different ways to significantly reduce the ground noise problem.
The first proposal shifts all the entry point for SFO approaches to three Initial Approaches (IAF) fixes at the South end of the Bay and those intercerptions would take place at or above 7000 ft.. The negative aspect of the first proposal is that is does concentrate all traffic over the three IAFs and these IAF are above populated areas (although the 7000 ft or above entry altitude greatly reduces the ground level noise below these IAFs.


The second proposal randomly distributes all SFO inbound flights over a series of interception points beginning at 10 miles from SFO and continuing out to 25 miles from SFO. This random distribution would spread traffic over the entire South Bay area and some of it would of necessity be at lower altitudes in order to intercept the SFO glide paths.

Here are the two proposal - apologies for the dead web links but the Forum does not allow pasting documents with active web links:

First proposal:

1 - All SFO inbound traffic from the North and the East must use the RNAV (GPS) X RWY 28R approach and must enter that approach at the ANETE Initial Approach Fix (IAF) for which the minimum crossing altitude is 7000 ft,

Web Link

Alternatively these aircraft could us the ILS or LOC RWY 28R approach and must enter at ARCHI IAF for which the minimum crossing altitude is 7000 ft,

Web Link


2 - All SFO inbound traffic from the South and the West must use the RNAV (GPS) X RWY 28L approach and must enter that approach at the Faith IAF which has a minimum crossing altitude of 7000 ft.,

Web Link

Entry to this approach via MENLO intersection would not be permitted.

Alternatively these aircraft could us the ILS or LOC RWY 28L approach and must enter at the FAITH IAF for which the minimum crossing altitude is 7000 ft,

Web Link

Entry to this approach via MENLO intersection would not be permitted.


3 - SFO and SJC must be landing in the same direction unless the wind differential between them is greater than 1o knots.

This proposal uses existing and established waypoints and procedures and does not impinge on the SJC airspace.

Second proposal:
Using the concept of a herring bone pattern and Advanced (or curved) Controlled Descent Approachs (CDA’a) here is a Draft SFO Arrivals Protocol:

1 – Establish two 25 mile plus 284 degree radials form SFO – one as an extension of Runway 28 Right and the second as an extension of Runway 28 Left.

2 – Place intercept points on each of these 284 deg radials at ½ mile intervals starting 10 miles from SFO where the 3 degree glide path interception point would be at 3000 ft and continuing out to the 25 mile point for a total of 32 interception points on both radials.

3 – ATC to randomly assign Curving CDAs to airplanes from the North and East to the 16 interception points on 28 Right radial.

4 - ATC to randomly assign Curving CDAs to airplanes from the South and West to the 16 interception points on 28 Left radial.

5 – Between 2100 (9 PM) and 0600 (6 AM) aircraft would be randomly assigned to interceptions point no closer than 20 miles from SFO.

6 - Future improvements could be made when and if steeper glide paths ( greater than 3 degrees) are approved.

**********************

What are the specific problems with these two proposal?

How can they be improved?

Are they compatible with NextGen technology?

Are they simple?

Are they equitable?


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