Airflight Noise Crisis Update

 1 QUIET SKIES ACTION NETWORK LOGOlot has happened since our last report on the shocking effect of the national rollout of the new airflight patterns from the Federal Aviation’s  Metroplex, NextGen program.  Condensing the path of flights arriving from various positions across a 4 mile swath to a single line of flights arriving over beleaguered communities, has residents across America up in arms and fighting back with lawsuits from a variety of cities. The West Adams community quickly rallied and set up websites, facebook pages, attended meetings and created committees.  Here is a rundown of what has occurred over the last two months. 

MEETINGS

Concerned West Adams residents who attended two West Adams for Quiet Skies meetings (previously reported on in our last two issues) showed up in force along with residents from other affected communities to a meeting organized by House Representative Karen Bass. She has been taking vigorous action here and in Washington and put together a meeting that included the who’s who of affected government officials. Even Senator Diane Watson showed up. Representative Bass gave them the opportunity to face the community,  state their position and the actions they were taking to help.  These are points made from the different representatives, reported on by resident Amy Carnes

Congresswoman Bass


• FAA implementation is affecting people nationwide

• She is a member of the Quiet Skies caucus in Washington, which needs to coordinate with Transportation Committee in the House.

• FAA is fairly independent, EXCEPT when it comes to budget – and she has attempted to introduce amendments when the FAA Budget Reauthorization came up. (these amendments were ignored by the Republican controlled committee)

• She stressed the need for Community groups to work on long-term legislation which should be ready to go in the  possibility that Democrats take over the House in the midterm election. We need to impact reauthorization AND the appropriation process for FAA and be ready with legislation/amendments when reauthorization comes up. Some folks want to privatize the FAA.

• Community Organizers need to connect with Quiet Skies groups in other cities

• We need to reach out to our 2 senators.  

“We cannot be successful without all of your involvement as well. The way to bring about change is to force it.”

Council President Herb Wesson/Representing District 10


• “Talk less, listen more, puts me in position to get things done.”

• Three people working in my office on this – Jeff Camp handed out brief of what Wesson has done since May:

1. Urging FAA to enforce their own rules of not flying below 6,000 ft. (didn’t say how)

2. Provided a timeline of actions community can keep up on at http://herbwesson.com/initiatives/airplane-noise-altitudes/ (no actions reported since Nov.7)

3. Obtained and analyzed data which showed that the FAA has been instructing flights to fly much lower than its own rules permit. We intend to use this information as leverage to demand, at the very least, that the FAA keeps its own rules. It is completely unacceptable that 67% of the flights are coming in below the FAA’s own mandated minimum altitudes.

4. We have also asked the City Attorney to examine the feasibility of filing an amicus brief.  In discussions with them to explore options to compel the FAA to abide by its own rules.

5. Requested a meeting with Dennis Roberts, the FAA Regional Administrator, Western-Pacific Region. I will ask him to account for the fact that the FAA is breaking its own rules, and insist on an immediate cessation of the flights that are below minimum altitudes

“We may ultimately end up doing a lawsuit, I’m not adverse to that.” “We want to do our part on the City Council…and a lot of what we do will come out of the suggestions that we get from you.” 

Councilman Harris-Dawson’s Rep - Margaret, member of the  LAX Noise Roundtable for 8th district

• “I associate myself with the comments of the leader of the City Council…we certainly have heard the calls for a lawsuit and that’s one thing we are considering.”

• One concrete action to take quickly is to support legislation. The Rules Committee, chaired by Wesson can support Congresswoman’s amendments to legislation.  Get an LA lobbyist in DC to act on it.

"We find airplane parts, soot on windowsills, etc in our neighborhood. Movement needs to be broad. This affects lots of neighborhoods in SoCal, community needs to organize and get FAA thinking about human beings on the ground.”

Jim Clark,  Culver City Councilmember and instrumental in the filing of their lawsuit against the FAA

• June Lehrman is a resident who helped lead the effort. 

• They have retained legal council who cite errors in the environmental assessment that FAA conducted – and initiated a lawsuit based on these errors.  Currently in mediation with FAA – suggested changes to flight paths. FAA asked for 45 day extension, granted, so ongoing. (UPDATE: mandated mediation between Culver City and various cities who have filed fell apart so everyone is going back to continuing the lawsuits)

• interviewing firms to do public advocacy (lobbyist), to support Congresswoman Bass  amendments. Welcome involvement of other communities in this effort.

“It’s going to take a village to get the FAA to change their mind, and we’re going to be that village.”

Peter Muller – District Director for Senator Diane Feinstein 

•“We’ve heard many of your stories and understand how disruptive it is to be woken up at 2:00 or 4:00 in the morning…we’re here to express her support to try to find a solution.”

• Committed to working together with Bass, city, state officials to alleviate problem as soon as we can  (Update.  She sent a letter to the FAA)

Heather Hutt –  Senator Kamala Harris’ representative 

• Gathering info from constituents in LA, San Bernardino, SF…we’re here to learn

• Stories are important, helps senator understand human side of this story

• Email - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – pictures, videos, stories, to help them compile a good picture of impact in community

UPDATE:  several efforts to follow up with her office have been ignored.  


David Rich – Mayor Eric Garcetti airport liaison

They received over 100 emails from the Quiet Skies Action Network. 

“I’ve been in meetings regarding these issues. Advocate going after FAA to enforce 6,000 ft minimum altitude. Mayors office very involved with council offices, clearly a citywide issue. I’m here to learn today. I think there are ways to make concrete steps here. I will communicate to the mayor everything I learn today.”  UPDATE: They are currently not considering a lawsuit or an amicus brief to the Culver City Lawsuit.

Representative for State Congressman Ted Lieu of the 33rd  District

• Lieu’s office tried to work with FAA during EIR/comment period

• Here to show solidarity with effort

• Urgency is clear

• Gathering data and devising strategy for moving forward – we’re here to work together

LAWA (Los Angeles World Airports) Reps – Kendrick Ocuda, Glenda Silva, John Ericson (Legislative Representative)

• They want to be good neighbors, good partners, but airport is limited in what happens with aircraft in the air. That is FAA’s responsibility, but they do want to hear from people as the information allows us to work with FAA

The Action Network also sent a series of questions to affected City Council Members. Here are their responses


Questions:

1 -  What is your official position on the effect of NexGen on our communities?

2 - What is your action plan to get the FAA to address the noise, the altitude problems and the frequency of flights resulting from NexGens restrictive narrow path?

3 – Efforts to negotiate with the FAA have been ignored unless there is a lawsuit involved. What actions are you taking to support a lawsuit filed by the City of Los Angeles against the FAA? 

4 – What actions are you taking to have Los Angeles file an amicus brief with the Culver City lawsuit?

Councilmember Harris-Dawson
from the 8th District

"I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. I have enclosed the letter that was submitted to the FAA from Councilmember Harris-Dawson, Council President Wesson, and Councilmember Bonin that represents our collective position on this issue. Additionally, the City is studying the feasibility of filing a lawsuit and/or an amicus brief on this issue; however, that decision is ultimately under the purview of the City Attorney and we are awaiting their decision. - Ashley Maher

Councilman Curren Price
whose district covers half of the path of the flights coming round downtown and heading back toward the airport.

1 - The FAA requirement to streamline inbound and outbound traffic reduced air traffic over CD 9 so it was beneficial to the Ninth District

2 - The Los Angeles City Council has NO jurisdiction over the Federal Government. This question would be better addressed to the members of Congress and the Senate.

3 - If the City decides to join the lawsuit brought forth by other communities such as Culver City, Councilman Price would be supportive if the intended outcome did not increase traffic patterns over CD 9.

4 -This is a question that ought to be directed to the City Attorney.

Senator Kamala Harris - Aide Heather Hutt


No Response. 

Mayor Eric Garcetti


1 - The Mayor is concerned about increased aircraft noise over the West Adams community.  The Mayor supports LAWA’s efforts to communicate residents’ complaints to the FAA.  All parties are working together with the FAA to continue collecting information and comments from the communities under the flight path.  Where possible the Mayor’s office and LAWA will advocate for improvements, for example working with FAA to ensure that minimum altitude thresholds are followed by FAA Air traffic controllers.

2 -  The following actions have been initiated and are ongoing:

· The LAX Community Noise Roundtable provides an opportunity for constituents to register complaints which are reported to the FAA.  

· LAWA collects and disseminates detailed data on flight path density and incoming altitude to community groups, local elected officials, and the FAA.

· LAWA has advocated that the minimum altitude thresholds be followed by FAA Air traffic controllers

·The FAA is working to implement a new software system to better enable higher altitudes to help address the altitude issue. 

3   The Mayor does not support the City of Los Angeles filing a lawsuit against the FAA at this time, but will continue to work with LAWA, who is communicating regularly with the FAA, and the City Attorney's Office on this issue.

4 - The Mayor does not support signing onto an amicus brief at this time, but will continue to work with LAWA, who is communicating regularly with the FAA, and the City Attorney's Office on this issue.

LAWSUIT


As a result of extensive research, the organizers of the West Adams for Quiet Skies group recognize that the FAA is entrenched and impervious to pleas from community groups or politicians. Indeed, recent reports that court-ordered mediation between the cities suing (including Culver City) and the FAA produced no results. The FAA is going to take its chances in court so the cities are regrouping their lawsuits and moving forward.  

One victory that gives them hope is the success of the Phoenix lawsuit.
 From the Phoenix Patch: "After three years of battling in the court, Phoenix and the Federal Aviation Administration have reached an agreement to lessen airplane noise over certain communities."  "On Thursday, the two filed a proposed fix with the federal Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. where Phoenix had filed suit to stop the FAA's plan citing a lack of public involvement in developing the changes in the flight paths." "The court cited the lack of public involvement in overturning the plan. Under the new plan, the FAA would take several steps including:  Making sure that residents affected by the changes have a voice in developing a new plan; and restoring flight paths to what they had been before the changes while the new paths are developed. 

But based on the responses of the representatives from one of the largest cities in the nation to the questionnaire, there doesn't seem to be much heart in pursuing a lawsuit.  Mayor Garcetti has no appetite for a lawsuit and won't even consider filing an amicus brief (a supporting complaint to another lawsuit) with the Culver City lawsuit.  The best they do is punt the issue to the City Attorney to investigate the feasibility of a lawsuit. They have yet to get a response.  A request for a response from the City Attorney was put in by a member of the Quiet Skies Action committee. The committee is also meeting to focus on actions that will bring the urgency and need of a lawsuit home to City Hall.  A protest could very well be coming.  


In the meantime, actions are being taken by the West Adams for Quiet Skies executive committee to move forward with a lawsuit and have retained lawyer Mitchel Tsai, who has proposed joining forces with a private resident in Culver City who has standing to sue the FAA because he registered comments during the comments period prior to the roll out of NexGen.  The West Adams group will be able to attach an amicus brief to his lawsuit.


QUIET SKIES ACTION NETWORK


Quiet Skies Action Network consists of any resident, regardless of location, who would like to be part of the solution rather than victimized by the problem. Actions are developed by the Action Committee and sent out to the Network. Some actions are specifc to Los Angeles and others are specific to the State and Congress. To date the Action Network has taken the following actions: 

Alert #1 Sept. 18 2017 - Senator Kamala Harris's phone lines were jammed for days by people calling and demanding to know her position on the issue and actions she has taken.  Her deafening silence and lack of response told us clearly what her position is.   

Alert #2 Oct. 2 -  Over 100 people sent emails to Mayor Garcetti,  City Attorney Mike Feuer, Council President Herb Wesson,  and Councilmember Harris-Dawson, asking that a lawsuit be considered.  

Alert #3 Over 70 people sent emails to city officials with a series of questions. (mentioned previously in this article) They all responded (with some Action Committee prodding).

IF you want to add your voice to the Network, email us at   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and put Network! in the subject
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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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