Airplane noise sub-committee drafts recommendations: Full presentation scheduled for October

A sub-committee operating under the San Diego Airport Noise Advisory Committee (ANAC), which was charged with drafting recommendations to ease airplane noise, had what could be its final meeting Sept. 27. During the three-hour gathering, committee members brought forward their suggestions — everything from increased fines for curfew violations to changes in how pilots are trained — and refined them into a package to be presented to the full ANAC board for discussion at an Oct. 18 meeting.

The ANAC sub-committee settled on 64 recommendations that were grouped into six to 10 similar topics that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) could evaluate. The hope is that these changes would reduce the airplane noise that has plagued La Jollans since last fall. The increase in aircraft volume began in October 2016, but the FAA insists there were no changes in flight patterns that would cause the noise.

Sub-committee member and La Jolla resident Chris McCann said their recommendations include increase noise monitoring in impacted communities, increase fines for curfew violations (which have not changed in 10 years), make noise data publicly available, move certain flight paths and more.

Ideas that were deemed unfeasible were thrown out to ensure ANAC and FAA would take the sub-committee work seriously.

“Not everyone got what they wanted, but overall, I thought it was a collaborative,” McCann said. “As individuals, we worked on this for about six weeks and looked at the concerns for our individual communities. But when we came together, we realized a lot of the ideas were similar, so that made the whole thing operate that much more smoothly.”

Attending the Sept. 27 meeting were those who work with the full ANAC board and a FAA procedure developer who offered insight from their end of the table.

“This was the first meeting I’ve attended where I felt the Airport Authority was working with us to achieve something,” McCann said. “Not all our recommendations will be accepted, most won’t, and some don’t have a chance in hell. We don’t know if anything is going to change, but if you don’t do anything, nothing is going to change.”

He also cited ANAC’s “dismissive” attitude in the past and questioned whether the board would continue with that mindset. “In most cities (where this is an issue), the Airport Authority works with the citizens, but with us, it has been the polar opposite. (I feel) they have been difficult and sneaky.”

The Big Reveal

At the same meeting where the sub-committee will present its recommendations, ANAC will hear the results of a noise study pertaining to La Jolla that was carried out over the course of almost a year.

ANAC heard a presentation on the purpose and methodology of the noise study earlier this year. But the results will be released at an unknown date this month, likely just before the next ANAC meeting.

The results were not available for the sub-committee to review, which McCann said he would have liked see to ensure that the information isn’t “cherry picked” in the FAA’s favor. “The fact that they kept it secret speaks volumes,” he said. “They don’t want to reveal anything that shows there really is a problem.”

When the data is released, McCann said he plans to correlate the data with registered complaints to see if one particular issue (planes flying too low, places suspected to be off-course, curfew violations) is the cause of most of the complaints.

A premature ending?

It’s unknown whether the sub-committee will continue to meet and make recommendations following the September meeting. It is within the ANAC sub-committee charter that the board would dissolve after it presents its recommendations, but McCann and others would like to see their work continue.

“Before the sub-committee started working,” he said, “there was no public input from those affected by airplane noise beyond public comment at meetings, which ANAC hears but doesn’t respond to. We will need to petition the Airport Authority to keep us going as a sub-committee.”

— The full ANAC board meets 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18. Portuguese Hall, 2818 Avenida De Portugal, in Point Loma.