Update: September 5, 2019
The first of six meetings of the Southern San Fernando Valley Airplane Noise Task Force was held on Wednesday, August 28th. Given an extensive and persistent public outcry due to the sudden and alarming presence of aircraft over parts of Studio City, Toluca Lake, Sherman Oaks, Encino, and Mulholland ridge communities, last March Senators Feinstein and Harris, and Representatives Sherman and Schiff called for the formation of a panel or task force to address the problem at Van Nuys (VNY) and Burbank (BUR) airports.
At their behest, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA/VNY) and Burbank Airport Authority (BUR) formed this Task Force to address unprecedented numbers of community noise complaints (along with mounting health, fire, and environmental issues) due to changes in flight patterns at both airports. The Task Force’s goal is a proposal to be implemented by necessary parties (e.g., aircraft operators, airlines, airports, FAA) to alleviate the crisis. This should occur irrespective of the upcoming environmental assessment of two proposed changes to BUR RNAV departure routes.
An overflow crowd of nearly 300 residents packed the meeting room at the Burbank Marriott hotel. Interested/concerned citizens represented numerous adversely affected communities including Toluca Lake, Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Encino, and Bel Air.
Task Force Composition
As constituted by Burbank Authority in conjunction with LAWA, there are 13 Task Force members. These include 8 voting members: (a) Councilmembers Krekorian (CD2 Studio City), Ryu (CD4 Sherman Oaks and Toluca Lake), Koretz (CD5 Encino), and Martinez (CD6 Van Nuys); and (b) Other city representatives which include the mayor and vice-mayor of Burbank, and mayors of Glendale and Pasadena.
In addition, there are are 5 non-voting federal representatives from offices of Sen Feinstein, Sen Harris, Rep Sherman, Rep Schiff, and Rep Cardenas.
Burbank and Van Nuys airport staff, and FAA representatives sit apart from the panel and are available for technical assistance. .
The fact that there are no community representatives was raised at this meeting; Task Force members agreed to consider such an addition.
During the 3 hour meeting, 72 community members signed up to speak during public comment for 90 seconds each. Many people repeatedly held up signs saying "FIX IT NOW" during speaker remarks. Comments from speakers included the following frequently repeated themes:
Noise, Health, and Quality of Life
1. Community concerns and frustration with the continuing frequency and intensity of severe abusive daily noise and pollution from very low flying jets over homes and schools. Speakers stated this is an unprecedented, significant change for communities south of the 101 freeway — not near either airport — that never before experienced such abuse.
2. Current jet paths are now concentrated over homes and schools in the Santa Monica Mountains, which amplifies and extends the intensity of jet engine sounds.
3. Residents' lives are now being substantially, adversely impacted by both Burbank and Van Nuys airport traffic.
4. Concern and frustration with health risk/ damage (e.g. cancer and upper respiratory problems) resulting from repeated, daily, long term exposure to toxic jet emissions deposited by low flying jets.
5. Adverse impact to school children (i.e. from both noise and toxic jet emissions) in affected communities.
6. In addition to physical health issues, many spoke of the adverse impact on emotional health (sleep, ability to work, concentrate, talk at normal levels inside and outside the home) and how the intense noise has been ruinous to quality of life. Some people spoke of possibly selling their homes; several expressed concerned about diminution in property value due to the continuing noise; others shared how the quiet neighborhood to which they were attracted has been hugely disrupted and changed by re-routed jet aircraft.
Safety and Fire
7. Concern about the very real potential fire danger from dumping of aircraft soot and/or an aviation crash in the high and very high Fire Hazard Severity Zones (FHSZ), as designated by the State of California, of the Santa Monica Mountains and foothills, over which Burbank and Van Nuys jets now fly.
FAA Actions In Re-routing Departure Paths
8. FAA revised departure paths without regard to where they shifted routes: flying very low and making turns in elevated terrain over the Santa Monica Mountain hillside communities:
departures from both airports over Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Encino, and south of Mulholland communities;
windy day reversals in which BUR arrivals fly even lower over Santa Monica Mountains
These actions were taken without notice to affected communities and without accounting for the increased challenges for pilots flying over mountain terrain, the sound-amplifying nature of the terrain, and the significance of the fire hazard zone across the southern end of the Valley in the Santa Monica Mountains, on both sides of Mulholland Drive.
9. Frustration and concern about the FAA's ignoring a policy not to shift noise to new areas-- which is exactly what they did.
10. Frustration was expressed with stated FAA Metroplex goals to promote efficiency, safety, and fuel savings. Long extended take offs south when destinations are usually north and east, and a high volume of low planes over designated fire hazard areas and health impact from horrendous noise and toxic emissions contradict this position.
11. Several speakers challenged FAA previously stated intentions --about saving and making money, and saving airlines fuel cost and promoting airport expansion at community expense.
12. Frustration was expressed about apparent denial that there has been a change that has adversely affected communities, or that the FAA and airport authority representatives don't know why the change occurred.
FIX IT NOW -- Suggestions to Correct the Departure Routes
Return immediately to historical flight paths (pre-2012 changes) which include turning sooner upon take-off (and over natural noise corridors), ascending to higher altitudes faster (steeper climb immediately), and dispersal.
NEXT MEETING - PLEASE ATTEND NEXT MEETING AND SHOW HOW MUCH YOU NEED RELIEF!
Community advocacy groups, and organizations (e.g. Homeowner associations; neighborhood council) will be making presentations on behalf of groups they represent; the FAA offered to make a presentation as well.
Wednesday, September 11, 2019 at 6:30 PM
Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport
2500 N Hollywood Way
Burbank, CA 91505
Recommended to arrive by 6:15 PM. Residents planning to speak need to fill out a speaker card. The hotel has paid parking in the hotel/convention center lot (valet is not validated). Click here for map and parking information.
Update: August 20, 2019
VNY SOLUTION IS NOT WHAT WE ASKED FOR
On Tuesday 8/6 the FAA presented the long awaited “solution” at the VNY Citizens Advisory Council (CAC) meeting. It was NOT what we proposed to LAWA in January and we do not support it.
Our proposal was to return to the historical path using the 2.2 DME waypoint at/near the unpopulated Sepulveda Basin just south of Van Nuys Airport where planes had successfully - without complaints - turned for 30+ years prior to last year. We had advocated for this as an immediate / interim solution at the very least so that residents would not have to wait for the Task Force to make decisions and changes (see below). In 2018, the FAA had created the PPRRY waypoint - without notice - routing planes further south, severely impacting the Ventura Blvd. corridor/foothills and Santa Monica Mountains.
At the CAC meeting on August 6, the FAA announced that they were proposing to create still another new "path," which will impact most of the same communities that the PPRRY waypoint and BUR aircraft is currently impacting. This is unacceptable. We have reached out to officials about this and the Task Force, and as we learn more, we will provide additional details.
VNY and BUR AIRPORT JOINT TASK FORCE FIRST MEETING SET
On August 28, at 6:30 PM, the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) and Burbank Airport will lead the first Task Force meeting to address long-term solutions at VNY and BUR. It is to be comprised of City and Federal representatives, along with Airport staff, technical experts and FAA staff. As we understand it, the public will have an opportunity to speak.
The Task Force is expected to take 6 months through a series of meetings before it will submit recommendations for long-term solutions to the FAA for the aviation impacts to the South San Fernando Valley. Thus this process will not end until at least March, 2020.
Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel
2500 N. Hollywood Way
Recommended to arrive by 6:15 PM. Residents planning to speak need to fill out a speaker card. The hotel has paid parking. Click here for map and parking information.
Update: August 2, 2019
VNY SOLUTION IS TO BE PRESENTED
On Tuesday 8/6 Van Nuys Airport staff will make a presentation about the potential replacement/ change to the PPRRY waypoint that was implemented without notice in 2018 by the FAA, which has been directing VNY aircraft over the high fire hazard severity zone (FHSZ) and noise-sensitive Santa Monica Mountains and foothill area of Encino and Sherman Oaks, and parts of Bel-Air, Mulholland ridge and Studio City.
Since the formation of our organization in January of this year, we have worked with federal and local officials, the City of Los Angeles and LAWA's Board of Airport Commissioners (BOAC), on an immediate solution to return the PPRRY waypoint to a departure route that had successfully been in place for decades over an unpopulated area.
LAWA has been working closely with the FAA since March on a solution that will be presented on Tuesday night. While we have not yet seen it, our understanding is it will bring some relief but it won't happen overnight. And a "formal" request to the FAA has not yet been made. That's why it's important for you to attend in support of relief. After receiving a formal request, the FAA will provide further evaluation/analysis, and the procedure will then be designed, coded and implemented.
We also want to make it ultra-clear to community members that rumors that it could somehow interfere with a BUR fix is unfounded. It has been publicly CONFIRMED on the record by Board of Airport Commissioners and LAWA (City of Los Angeles) officials that it will NOT interfere with any proposed BUR solutions.
The residents of our communities need -- and should have -- IMMEDIATE relief from the dangerous fire risks and noise impacts imposed by VNY aircraft (as well as BUR). Please attend and tell your neighbors!
Update: July 15, 2019
VNY AND BUR AIRPORTS JOINT TASK FORCE ANNOUNCED
Joint Task Force Information
The City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), and Hollywood Burbank Airport have agreed on a Task Force, which was officially announced at the Burbank Commissioners meeting on July 15. It is to be comprised of City and Federal representatives, along with Airport staff, technical experts and FAA staff. Community groups such as our own are not included as voting members. The public has the ability to make presentations however we have urged them to include the three San Fernando Valley community advocacy groups focused on this issue including our own.
At the meeting, several commissioners expressed the following:
While the Task Force is underway there needs to be short-term fixes for Burbank.
If the community organizations that have been advocating for solutions at Van Nuys Airport and Burbank Airport "can remain positive" then they deserve a seat at the table.
Making sure that high fire risk and noise reverberations in the Santa Monica Mountains are included.
The Task Force is slated to begin in late August or early September and is expected to take 6 months through a series of meetings before it will submit recommendations in March 2020 for long-term solutions to the FAA for the aviation impacts to the South San Fernando Valley.
History and Immediacy
Last March, at our urging, U.S. Senators Feinstein and Harris, and Representatives Sherman and Schiff, called for a roundtable panel to be formed to find an immediate solution to the adverse impacts in our communities caused by changes to VNY and BUR departure patterns. Since it has taken about six months to put in place, it is no longer "immediate." However, we still believe this panel (now called a Task Force) is beneficial because it will look at long-term solutions that go beyond what would be considered immediate during the BUR Environmental Assessment (EA).
At the time we advocated for a panel, simultaneously we worked with the City of Los Angeles and LAWA’s Board of Airport Commissioners (BOAC) on an immediate solution for VNY that would not interfere with any proposed solutions at BUR while that roundtable panel could be formed. That VNY solution is nearing completion.
Burbank Commission Lags Behind
When our organization was formed in late January 2019, our focus was and has been on finding immediate solutions and long term solutions for Van Nuys Airport. However, our co-founders, as well as much of our membership, are impacted by BUR flights as well. The two other advocacy groups in the San Fernando Valley, with all of their founders based in Studio City, have focused on BUR, and we support them in that effort while also advocating for a comprehensive solution for both efforts. The Burbank Commission has been lagging behind BOAC in finding immediate solutions for BUR. Finally in June, the Burbank Commissioners passed a motion to propose three immediate fixes to the FAA.
Our position is that immediate fixes should not be delayed while awaiting the Task Force. If they are unable to do so by the time the Task Force is convened, the Task Force should do everything in its power to ensure that the proposed interim solutions are implemented immediately as they work on the longer term solutions.
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.