Update: June 25, 2019
A question that is being asked is “why can’t the City include Van Nuys Airport and Burbank Airport in the lawsuit?”
ANSWER: Our understanding is that The City's lawsuit pertains to LAX arrival flight procedures that are now considered final actions by the FAA. It appears the City and the FAA had an agreement to freeze the time for suing while they tried to resolve it amicably. Our communities can't be a part of that lawsuit because it does not pertain to BUR and VNY flight procedures, as there are no final actions the FAA has taken at those airports upon which the City can sue at this time.
With regard to BUR, the City can’t sue the FAA right now because FAA has not yet taken a final action on the FAA’s proposed modifications to two flight departure procedures that will be the subject of an upcoming environmental assessment by the FAA (the schedule for this EA has yet to be announced). With regard to VNY, the City can’t sue the FAA because there is no timely flight procedure at issue; the window for suing regarding FAA changes at VNY is closed, as far as we know right now.
CITY SUES THE FAA OVER LAX & SAYS IT SUPPORTS THE SAN FERNANDO VALLEY
The City of Los Angeles, through City Attorney Mike Feuer, has announced it is suing the FAA regarding arrival flight path changes made at LAX that are subjecting mid-City and central Los Angeles residents to environmental and noise impacts. The City says these impacts were not adequately considered prior to the FAA's making flight path changes final.
The lawsuit also challenges the FAA’s recent decision to discontinue its longstanding practice of accepting public comment on its website in the environmental analysis of proposed flight procedures, pointing out that comments submitted through its IFP Information Gateway require submitters to acknowledge that “comments submitted to the IFP Information Gateway related to potential environmental impacts will not be considered."
According to City Attorney Mike Feuer's office, the City has also been communicating directly with the FAA's Regional Administrator, legal counsel and members of Congress to ensure that the FAA address and resolve the aircraft traffic impacts for San Fernando Valley residents in Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Encino, Bel Air, and Mulholland Ridge areas in and near the Santa Monica Mountains.
In late March of this year, efforts by Sherman Oaks and Encino for Quiet Skies (SOEQS) led to Senators Feinstein and Harris, and Representatives Sherman and Schiff, to call for a "panel" or "roundtable" to be convened to immediately address the crisis caused by frequent flights from both Van Nuys Airport and Hollywood Burbank Airport over the Santa Monica Mountains. Today, the City Attorney recognizes Congress’ call to convene the panel with the FAA's involvement to address the serious problems created by the FAA’s actions at both airports.
SOEQS commends and supports the City of Los Angeles’ actions. We continue to work with the City of Los Angeles and our state and federal representatives to convene this roundtable or “Solutions Panel” for the San Fernando Valley. The Panel’s objective will be to identify and to recommend solutions that can be immediately implemented at both airports to protect our residents and the Santa Monica Mountains from further and future harm due to the low altitude flight paths destroying quality of life, subjecting residents to serious health and environmental problems, and greatly increasing the chances of an aviation accident and potential wildfire in the Santa Monica Mountains area.
Update: May 18, 2019
A SOLUTION FOR VNY FLIGHT PATHS IS UNDER REVIEW
Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) announced at their Board of Airport Commissioners (BOAC) meeting on Thursday that they have been working with the FAA on a solution for Van Nuys Airport (VNY) and that the FAA has narrowed 6 possibilities down to a “hybrid” solution, which is still under review.
LAWA, which runs VNY airport, is acting on behalf of the Los Angeles City Council and the Motion they passed in March, to find an immediate solution for VNY flights over the Santa Monica Mountains area, which are adversely affecting residents in Sherman Oaks, Encino, Studio City, Bel-Air and along the Mulholland ridge. Nearly all of these residents are also affected by BUR flight paths.
As a reminder, that Motion also instructed that the FAA consider BUR airport in any VNY proposals. Our understanding is that is the case. And, we cannot assume that the FAA is not reviewing 6 different proposals without consideration of how a potential solution will work with any future solution for BUR.
Our position has always been - and remains - that we will work with our local and federal representatives to find immediate solutions for residents that are suffering from VNY flight paths, while also looking at the bigger picture of both airports and a comprehensive solution.
To that end, getting relief from VNY flight paths is a step toward the comprehensive solution, which is what we seek.
We cannot state at this time whether we are in support of the VNY “hybrid” solution as details about it have not been released. However, if the “hybrid” solution for VNY is not satisfactory for our residents’ relief from flights at both airports, we will let our representatives know at the appropriate time.
Update: March 29, 2019
FEDERAL OFFICIALS REQUEST AN AVIATION IMPACT PANEL
U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, and U.S. Congressmen Brad Sherman and Adam Schiff have recently joined together to send a strong message to the FAA about the current aviation impact over our neighborhoods.
On March 21, they called for the formation of an aviation impact panel comprised of the FAA, local community members, Van Nuys Airport, Burbank Airport, and others to resolve this current, ongoing problem which includes safety, health, noise and environmental impacts from aircraft. Read Congressman Sherman’s press release here.
In a separate release on March 25, Senator Feinstein distinguishes between the proposed new Burbank flight paths and the current routing of aircraft over the Santa Monica Mountains, which is causing unprecedented complaint levels at both airports, noting the urgency of the current problem that requires “an immediate solution.” Read Senator Feinstein’s press release here.
This coordinated federal action from the U.S. Senate and U.S. House comes in response to our March 12 letter to them and subsequent behind-the-scenes phone calls and follow up communications with their offices. Our letter notified them of the joint Section 175 letters from Burbank Airport and Los Angeles World Airport (LAWA) regarding Van Nuys Airport, and requested their involvement at this pivotal moment to help resolve this recent and serious problem.
Please check back for updates on when this panel will be convened.
Update: March 10, 2019
LAWA SENDS SECTION 175 LETTER TO THE FAA
We played a significant role in the letter that Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) sent to the FAA on March 1, 2019, to address noise and safety impacts, invoking Section 175 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, as instructed by the Los Angeles City Council (see City Council Vote recap below for more information). Read the letter here.
Update: March 6, 2019
CITY COUNCIL VOTE (Feb. 27) RECAP
On February 27, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to approve Councilman Koretz’s motion to request the FAA to address noise and safety impacts at Van Nuys Airport (VNY), invoking Section 175 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.
This was in response to our efforts, and a 622% spike in noise complaints by Encino, Sherman Oaks, and Studio City residents, as well as parts of Bel-Air and along the Mulholland ridge. We have been working with the City of Los Angeles, a number of City Council members, the VNY Community Advisory Committee (CAC), the Board of Airport Commissioners (BOAC), and Los Angeles World Airport (LAWA), to return VNY aircraft paths to where they have historically been for decades.
A number of residents who live miles from VNY and Burbank (BUR) Airports, spoke to the full City Council about the harmful effects that the FAA’s changes to flight paths have had on their families and businesses, which now directs hundreds of loud, low-flying aircraft every day - and night - over the noise-sensitive elevations of the Santa Monica Mountain area. The FAA enacted these changes without properly notifying our communities or conducting formal impact studies.
Before it was passed, the motion was amended by Councilman Krekorian, to include language that the FAA also take into account the relationship between flight procedures at both VNY and BUR Airports. The FAA had also changed BUR flight paths recently over these same communities, which has caused a “stacking” of general aviation, commercial, and helicopter aircraft. Read the motion here.
Update: Feb. 23, 2019
BOAC MEETING (Feb. 21) RECAP
Once again, on Thursday, Feb. 21st, Sherman Oaks & Encino for Quiet Skies and residents made the trek to LAX to learn if the Board of Airport Commissioners (BOAC) will support our request to invoke Section 175, based in part on documentation we presented at two previous meetings on January 17th and February 7th.
Thanks to all who turned out! An Encino resident spoke about the frequency of departures and their substantial increase during voluntary curfew hours. A Bel Air resident emphasized the high fire hazard dangers of low-flying aircraft over mountainous terrain with narrow roads during a disaster, and reiterated SOEQS research that we submitted at the last meeting, which indicates the NTSB has investigated over 4,500 aircraft crashes in mountain areas since 2000.
The Commissioners reported during the meeting that Los Angeles World Airport (LAWA) staff has been communicating with the FAA’s Western Regional office about the rationale for relocating aircraft over the Santa Monica Mountain area with its 2018 PPRRY waypoint. The FAA is aware there is a problem and has requested LAWA’s help in facilitating meetings with City Council members.
Secondly, they reported on the approval of Councilman Koretz’s motion by the City Council’s Trade, Travel & Tourism Committee that goes to full Council next week on February 21. If the City Council adopts the Motion, LAWA will send a letter to the FAA requesting they undertake the Section 175 process to address noise impacts at VNY consistent with the City Council request.
We thanked LAWA staff, BOAC members and the City Council for their responsiveness to our concerns on behalf of tens of thousands of residents in Sherman Oaks, Encino, and parts of Studio City and Bel-Air, and picked up on what Commissioner Jeffrey Daar said: they need to ask the FAA to revert back to 2.2. DME while the Section 175 process is being undertaken.
Chairman Sean O. Burton noted that he and one of the other BOAC members along with several City Council members will be meeting with the FAA in Washington D.C. in the near future, relative to VNY.
Update: Feb. 20, 2019
CITY COUNCIL’S TRADE, TRAVEL & TOURISM COMMITTEE MEETING (Feb. 19) RECAP
Sherman Oaks & Encino for Quiet Skies headed downtown for the City Council’s Trade, Tourism and Travel (TT&T) Committee meeting, held at City Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 19th. Residents spoke in support of Councilman Koretz’s motion to instruct Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) to invoke Section 175 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, by sending a letter with documentation to the FAA detailing noise issues caused by Van Nuys Airport (VNY) flight paths and to revert to the historical 2.2DME, a safe and efficient alternative to the current use of NextGen PPRRY waypoint.
Councilman and Committee Member Krekorian (CD2) also spoke in support of the motion, noting that residents who live in the impacted Santa Monica Mountains are suffering the cumulative impacts from VNY and Burbank (BUR) Airports, and that the canyon topography amplifies and extends noise from the aircraft, seriously compounding the community noise impact from the VNY flight paths.
Councilwoman Nury Martinez (CD6) requested that the Motion include language taking into account the potential noise impact of any new departing flight guidelines on the surrounding communities before they are implemented.
The motion passed unanimously out of the committee, and is set to go before the full City Council on Wednesday, February 27 at 10:00 in City Hall (details below). We anticipate that the motion may receive the support of the entire City Council but your attendance will be helpful. Click here for details.
Update: Feb. 9, 2019
BOAC MEETING (Feb. 7) RECAP
The turnout at the BOAC Meeting on Thursday, Feb. 7th in Van Nuys was fantastic. We filled the room with more than 100 residents. A shout out to all who were able to attend in the middle of a work day and lend support. Your presence mattered! Thanks to the residents and the staff of Councilmen Koretz and Ryu who spoke, as well as Congressman Brad Sherman’s representative who was also in attendance.
The BOAC and the City heard our message loud and clear! We now realize this was a special meeting to focus on the VNY flight path issues because of resident testimonials and our presentation, letter, and documents submitted at the first BOAC meeting on January 17. Putting pressure in the right places is getting results.
We presented new factual documentation including testimonials and Airnoise summaries from multiple residents that show frequency of VNY, BUR and overflight aircraft from other airports; Webtrak screenshots that show what we call “vertical stacking” of planes at different altitudes and airports over residences; and screenshots showing short distances between low altitude planes and homes at higher elevations.
We provided a table comparing the impact that began in May 2018 when the FAA attempted to correct their NextGen implementation mistake, by creating a new waypoint, PPRRY. It contrasted how impactful and dangerous the new waypoint is in comparison to the historic 2.2 DME waypoint, which historically generated few complaints since a good portion of turns were being made over the unpopulated Sepulveda Basin.
Our presentation spelled out the noise, health, and cumulative impacts from frequency and “vertical stacking” of air traffic that is driving aircraft, including helicopters, lower than ever before. We also described fire risks created by low planes flying in mountainous terrain that is designated as a Dangerous Fire Hazard Severity Zone (FHSZ) by the state, and noted that a plane crash causing wildfire is only a matter of time.
We closed by asking the BOAC to work with the FAA to move the new waypoint 3/4 mile back to where it was for decades.
All of these documents are now in the hands of the BOAC, and we are following up with them and the City of Los Angeles to send a Section 175 letter - with this documentation - to the FAA.