Bird Rock resident disturbed by flight path changes

After 20 years living on Linda Rosa Avenue, a tidy, quiet street that runs parallel to the east side of La Jolla Boulevard, Beatriz Pardo was surprised to be awakened by a strange noise early one morning in late October. “I heard these sounds and wondered where they came from. Then, one morning I came out and I saw it, an airplane flying by!”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is making changes in flight paths nationwide to improve the flow of air traffic and cut fuel costs. In Southern California, as many as 99 flight paths will be modified to satellite-based procedures in 21 airfields, including the San Diego International Airport.

Controversy began earlier this year when Point Loma residents organized to stop the change in eastbound departing flights, which were flying straight over the peninsula. The neighborhood outcry forced FAA to make some changes, and now the airplanes will check in two miles south of Point Loma.

But no one expected Bird Rockers to notice any changes, and it seems not many of them have been bothered by the new flight paths. When Pardo brought up the issue at the Bird Rock Community Council (BRCC) meeting Nov. 1, her noise complaints were met with surprise by neighbors. City Council representative Justin Garver, in attendance, said he received a voicemail from Pardo on the issue, but it was the first one.

“Maybe people haven’t noticed because it hasn’t surfaced in their consciousness,” Pardo said, adding that she is awaken by passing flights every morning and hears them throughout the day. “When I first moved here, all you could hear was the sound of the waves at high tide.”

Pardo explained that she likes to sleep with her windows open and sounds fly right in. “The other night, my mother and I were woken up by a helicopter,” she said. Helicopter and low-flying airplane noise is something other residents have complained about, including “Time to abate the La Jolla helicopter nuisance” commentary published in La Jolla Light June 19, 2015.

Pardo invited the Light to experience the noise from her home, and this reporter arrived at her house Nov. 4, before the 9 a.m. flight departures. The sound of planes was easily recognizable from her front patio and could be heard clearly. However, other areas in San Diego like Ocean Beach, South Park or Point Loma experience higher decibel levels with planes that fly directly over their homes, as opposed to the distant sound of an airplane flying over the ocean.

Her nextdoor neighbor, Pardo explained, can hear the plane noise, too, but he’s not bothered by it. “Maybe I have very acute hearing, but if I wanted to live close the airport, I would have moved there,” she said.

The FAA evaluated and responded to more than 4,000 public comments received during the 120-day public comment period according to its website. It also held 11 public workshops and states that the decision to implement the flight path changes is “final.”

The website reads, “From coast to coast, we are upgrading the nation’s air traffic control system and improving the safety, efficiency, reliability and availability of air transportation in the United States. Modernization is needed because many of the air traffic procedures in Southern California are decades old. While they are all safe, some are inefficient because they rely on ground-based navigation aids, which limit available flight paths.”

Do you hear it? If you’ve noticed a noise increase due to the flight path shift, let us know by sending an e-mail to mduran@lajollalight.com

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