At the July 19 meeting of the Airport Noise Advisory Committee (ANAC) subcommittee in Liberty Station, Airport Authority staff revealed that air noise monitoring had been underway in the areas of Bird Rock and Soledad Mountain before and after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Metroplex flight paths changes for San Diego Airport were implemented in November 2016 and March 2017.
The announcement took members of the subcommittee by surprise, considering the FAA previously reported there were no changes in November 2016. Chris McCann, the La Jolla representative and creator of the Airnoise app, questioned Airport Planning & Noise Mitigation program manager Sjohnna Knack about the testing.
Knack explained that, “we had increasing concerns, similar to the concerns we got two years ago when Point Loma (noise problems) were first raised. We placed noise monitors in the areas that received the most complaints.” She said the locations for testing in La Jolla were Calumet Park in Bird Rock and just east of Mount Soledad under the arrival flight path — both are places where air noise complaints began and have skyrocketed since November 2016.
“We did two short-term monitoring (sessions) where we looked at single events and then we did long-term monitoring (sessions) that lasted two weeks,” she added.
But McCann pressed, “The (increase in aircraft noise over La Jolla) has been discussed for at least seven months, why was the fact that there was pre-Metroplex reporting never mentioned here?”
Knack answered, “I’m of the mindset that we need to wait for the results until we present them. The point of bringing it up tonight was a discussion on noise monitoring slated on the subcommittees’ agenda.”
Knack added that once results of the noise studies in La Jolla are finalized, she will present them at a future ANAC meeting. (Meeting dates and agendas can be found at bitl.ly/anacmeetings)
Sandra Valone, the ANAC subcommittee member representing Point Loma Heights, took issue over the announcement of noise studies in La Jolla.
“I’ve been trying for two years ... I’ve been to how many Airport Authority board meetings, ANAC meetings? ... and I can’t believe that La Jolla would already get noise monitors when we’ve been talking about this for two years and we’ve got thousands and thousands of complaints from Point Loma Heights,” she said. Valone maintains that departing flights turning south often detour over her neighborhood.
Knack responded, “We monitored it at the time, if that’s something you would like to see, please submit a request.” But Valone countered that the places where monitoring was done didn’t reflect the areas where noise had appeared.
In a post-meeting conversation with La Jolla Light, McCann said he intends to send a letter to Airport Authority, ANAC and ANAC subcommittee board members demanding airport staff “provide all information from studies conducted in and around La Jolla, as well as any documentation on the decision to provide funding for the studies, how they were funded, and what the results are.
“I want to ask, officially, why the studies conducted were concealed from the subcommittee, in particular from the La Jolla rep on the subcommittee, who asked about this in the past and yet never got a straight answer.”
The ANAC subcommittee, initially created as a one-year authority to suggest specific actions to ANAC, is supposed to be dissolved in September after the group submits its recommendations to ANAC. A three-hour workshop is slated for 4 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 2722 Truxtun Road, where subcommittee members will decide (by majority vote) the recommendations ANAC will consider at its October meeting.
The public may attend, but there will be no public comment or participation.
Because Harbor Police were present at the July 19 ANAC subcommittee meeting and the June 21 ANAC meeting, Airport Authority board member Mary Sessom (appointed by East County-area mayors) informed board members of threatening messages from the public that led to the need for police at recent meetings and an ongoing investigation.
“I was asked to address you about some troubling things that have been happening that deal with the treatment of our staff,” she said. “These professionals work really hard, so as leaders, I hope we convey that to our constituents and members of the public. We need to be respectful, not only to each other, but to our staff. Cussing at them, threatening them is not OK.
“The last threat the Airport Authority received was scary and that’s why Harbor Police will stay here until you (the ANAC subcommittee) finish.”
Subcommittee members expressed concern at being “accused” of such tactics. McCann commented, “I saw Harbor Police standing outside and thought that was odd, since there was never a police officer at any of the subcommittee meetings. Once his presence was explained by way of scolding by Mary Sessom, it seemed like an act of intimidation.”
When the Light first asked the about the security detail at meetings in June, Knack responded, “The Harbor Police were in attendance, as they have been in the past.”