Guest Commentary / Opinion / Our Readers Write:
Here is an update about the commercial jet noise associated with the FAA ‘s NextGen Metroplex system, the impact studies commissioned by the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority (SDCRAA), and the recently proposed $3B airport expansion. The bottom line is that we continue to appreciate, and need, the community’s support!
• Dec. 19, 2018 ANAC Meeting. Commercial jet noise complaints increased in October and November 2018 by 55 percent, compared to the same time last year. Almost 37,000 complaints were filed, and 106 new households complained. Most came through the Air Noise button (airnoise.io). ANAC moved to reporting complaint data by number of households, rather than the total number of complaints, in an attempt to minimize the sheer number. The increase in households filing at least one complaint per month undercuts the ANAC’s staff’s reporting characterization. It is vital that more La Jolla households file at least one complaint per month, to ensure that our community’s voice is heard and credited. Please sign up for, and use, the Air Noise complaint button at airnoise.io. Quiet Skies La Jolla co-founder Chris McCann will be glad to walk you through set up and use.
• Next CAC/TAC and ANAC Meetings. The February 2019 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) meetings are postponed because of delays due to the federal government shut down and the revised Environmental Impact Report (EIR) from the SDCRAA addressing the proposed airport expansion. FAA employees responsible for addressing the noise modeling analysis in the Flight Procedures Study were furloughed and are just now re-engaging.
Further, the revised airport expansion EIR will include new capacity projections, which must be considered in the Part 150 Study. When the studies pick up, the technical consultants’ modeling analyses will be considered, evaluating the suggestions to reduce noise over and around La Jolla and other communities. Once the Part 150 study restarts it will evaluate flight path changes immediately around the airport, within the 65 CNEL noise contour. La Jolla’s CAC and TAC members advocated that several proposals from the Flight Paths & Procedures Study be advanced to the Part 150 Study because they would be implemented immediately off the runway. In general, those proposals involve making better use of the Pacific Ocean by routing planes farther off shore before turning left or right and staying further away from La Jolla during arrivals from the north.
• Airport Expansion Draft EIR: Many government agencies and private groups commented on the draft EIR for the proposed $3B Terminal 1 expansion. The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority is planning to submit a revised EIR, addressing updated capacity forecasts and the infrastructure upgrades necessary for a public transit center and connections to the airport. The expansion project is expected to add 11 gates accommodating at least a 21 percent increase in passenger traffic. Projections are for 28 million passengers by 2025 compared to 22 million passengers in 2017, primarily by more flights and larger planes. We are in favor of smart growth, but also say that noise reduction on our community should be part of the package.
• Dr. Matthew Price, M.D. is now La Jolla’s Rep on ANAC. As reported by the La Jolla Light in December 2018, La Jolla’s former representative to ANAC, Cindy Greatrex, pled guilty on Dec. 17, 2018 to grand theft in San Diego Superior Court, admitting to embezzling more than $68,000 from the La Jolla Parks & Recreation, Inc. As part of her plea agreement she is precluded from holding any fiduciary positions, such as serving on the La Jolla Community Planning Association, which appointed her to La Jolla’s ANAC seat.
In mid-January 2019, Matthew J. Price, M.D. was appointed to replace Greatrex. He is a world-renowned interventional cardiologist, who has been practicing at Scripps for the last 22 years. He has been engaged in the NextGen Metroplex noise issue for several years as co-chair of the La Jolla Town Council Air Noise subcommittee, president and co-founder of Quiet Skies La Jolla, Inc. and now his willingness to serve on ANAC.
• Culver City v. FAA Litigation Update: The litigation challenging the FAA’s “Finding of No Significant Impact” (“FONSI”) was resolved against Culver City and its co-plaintiffs. The FONSI was used to justify not preparing an EIR before NextGen was rolled out. Oral argument occurred on Oct. 18, 2018 and an opinion issued on Nov. 30 in favor of the FAA. The appellate court applied a deferential standard of review, concluding that there was substantial evidence to support the FAA’s “no EIR” decision.
• Observations: First, patience is required. The airport expansion revised EIR will cause more delay in the Party 150 study, and if the noise implications of the expansion are not adequately addressed, further delay may ensue.
Second, the number of households filing even a single complaint every month in La Jolla matters, a lot. Please be proactive and help by using the Air Noise button (airnoise.io), ANAC’s web-based complaint system (webtrak.emsbk.com/san) or the Airport Authority’s telephone complaint line at (619) 400-2799 to file at least one complaint per month, when appropriate.
Third, perception of noise varies with weather patterns and topography. Bird Rock, Lower and Upper Hermosa, Muirlands and La Jolla Shores seem to be the most impacted neighborhoods. Further, the noise is more perceptible during low pressure, low cloud and marine layer conditions. We enjoyed high pressure weather during much of December and January and, therefore, it seemed like the noise was reduced. May-Grey and June-Gloom cloud cover will make the noise seem louder and more pervasive. When the noise bothers you, file a complaint. Every voice matters.