On March 28, Quiet Skies La Jolla reported about the status of efforts to address the increased commercial jet noise from San Diego airport caused by the Federal Aviation Administration ‘s (FAA) new Next Gen Metroplex flight departure and landing paths around San Diego. Several developments have occurred since our last report:
Background: The FAA completed its implementation of the Next Gen/Metroplex navigation system at SDIA in March 2017, creating concentrated jet “superhighways” adjacent to and over La Jolla. Many La Jolla residents immediately reported hearing disturbing, loud, and sustained commercial jet noise that interferes with the quiet enjoyment of homes, parks, commercial and outdoor spaces.
The new flight paths now “cut the corner” over Mission Beach impacting Pacific Beach , Bird Rock, WindanSea and La Jolla Cove on departure and lower over La Jolla Shores and Mount Soledad on arrival, causing significantly increased noise depending on topography and weather conditions for many residents. In December 2017 the San Diego Regional County Airport Authority authorized an accelerated “Part 150" study to analyze noise impacts inside the 65 CNEL contour directly adjacent to the airport and a parallel “Flight Procedures Study” to address noise abatement outside the 65 CNEL contour, which includes Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and La Jolla.
March and April Citizen Advisory & Technical Advisory Committee Meetings: The Airport Noise Authority initiated the Flight Procedures Study in January 2018, published a call for applications to serve on the Citizen Advisory (CAC) and Technical Advisory (TAC) Committees, appointed those committees and retained a private air noise consulting firm to make recommendations to the SDCRAA and ultimately to the FAA. Len Gross, Chris McCann and Tony Stiegler are La Jolla’ representatives on the 15-person CAC, which also includes representatives from Ocean Beach, Point Loma , Mission Beach and Lemon Grove. The TAC includes one FAA Air Traffic Control District Manager, an operations manager from the airport, members of the Airport Authority, representatives of Sky West, Alaska and Southwest Airlines, a representative from private aviation, long range planners for the City of San Diego , an Airport Noise Authority Commission (ANAC) member and two retired USAF pilots who also sit on the CAC, including La Jolla’s McCann.
The first CAC meeting was held on March 22 and the first TAC meeting was held on April 5, and both addressed the same content: stating the purpose of both committees to provide input to the Airport Authority’s consulting firm, Ricondo & Associates, and laying out the time line for the project. Ricondo will develop recommendations and a feasibility analysis of the ANAC Subcommittee October 2017 report, which include approximately twenty noise mitigation recommendations and flight path and procedure recommendations evidencing the ANAC subcommittee’s intentions. Ricondo will solicit input from all stake holders before making final recommendations.
The ANAC recommendations include modifying the PADRZ standard departure waypoint by moving it further away from San Diego’s coast (reducing departure noise), increasing the minimum altitude of arrivals over La Jolla on the COMIX-STAR arrival path, reducing “early turns” over La Jolla, among others. Ricondo’s objective is to present a report by the end of 2018, but cautions that the entire process could take 3-4 years, including FAA review and decision-making.
All TAC and CAC meetings are open to the public and are held at the SD Airport Authority office at Liberty Station, including anticipated meetings in May, July and September 2018. Notice of the dates and times will be posted at https://san.org/Airport-Noise/Noise-101#405294-far-part-150. You are invited to attend or provide input the CAC members, who will present the consultant’s recommendations to the La Jolla community.
Quiet Skies La Jolla’s Meeting with Rep. Scott Peters: On April 9, the board of directors of Quiet Skies La Jolla, Inc. (Dr. Matthew Price, MD, Scripps Cardiology, Ret. USAF test pilot and software developer Chris McCann and Anthony M. Stiegler, JD, Cooley Litigation Partner) met with U.S. House of Representatives Congressman Scott Peters to provide him with a status report and to seek his counsel and support regarding possible negotiated changes to the FAA flight paths and procedures. Peters is receptive to the dialogue and supports finding a “win/win” balance between San Diego’s interest in a vibrant international airport that supports our growing economy and residents’ interests for the quiet enjoyment of their homes and outdoor spaces.
On April 27, Peters announced his help in passing the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, funding the FAA and NextGen for the next five years and including noise mitigation studies and requirements for increased community input. The bill includes measures to address airplane noise including studies to better understand the effect of noise on communities and programs to address specific noise impacts.
Peters said: “La Jolla, which was not traditionally as affected by airplane noise, experienced an increase in noise when NextGen/Metroplex was implemented in San Diego. Going forward we have better collaboration, structure and resources to address La Jolla’s and other affected communities’ concerns. It is my expectation that the SDCRAA Flight Procedures Study addressing noise in La Jolla will actively engage with the Citizen Advisory and Technical Advisory Committees and their consultants, I hope that their recommendations will lead to timely and meaningful noise mitigation results for La Jolla.”
Culver City’s Litigation Challenge to the FAA over Next Gen: Although the City of San Diego and La Jolla missed the opportunity to join a legal challenge to the FAA’s Next Gen rollout, litigation is pending filed by Culver City (LAX), Santa Monica Canyon Civic Association and two individuals, including one Point Loma resident. The litigation challenges the FAA’s failure to conduct a full Environmental Impact Report Study and Report (EIR) concerning Next Gen, instead using only an Environmental Assessment (EA) which was supported by a unilateral Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI).
The Petitioner’s opening brief was filed in the DC Circuit (the court that has exclusive jurisdiction over FAA matters) on March 16 making several compelling arguments including that the FAA used a noise modeling tool that it concedes was obsolete when used to support its FONSI. The FAA’s brief will be filed on May 15. The Petitioner’s reply brief will be filed on June 29 and the parties will file simultaneous summation briefs on July 20. Oral arguments will likely be held in late 2018 or early 2019 and a favorable decision by the court could work to La Jolla’ advantage if the court decides that the FAA failed to adhere to federal law while implementing Next Gen. That, however, is a speculative result at this juncture, and it is at least equally plausible for the court to find that no significant error or prejudice occurred. We will report further as the litigation story unfolds.
What You Can Do: It is imperative that your voice be heard and data collected regarding Next Gen’s impact in La Jolla. Please consider filing commercial jet noise complaints using the Quiet Skies “Air Noise Complaint Button,” which can be set up through airnoise.io The data will inform the dialogue and support La Jolla’s “asks” of the FAA.
Please also join the Quiet Skies La Jolla mailing list by e-mailing: firstname.lastname@example.org and visit the Quiet Skies La Jolla website at QuietSkiesLaJolla.org for updates.