Letter: Noise abatement violations over Montara

Letter to the editor

Posted by on Sat, September 29, 2007

For the last two months, we’ve observed low flying small aircraft; mostly coming out of the East. 

The noise has been overwhelming, and a few of us have been complaining to both the Half Moon Bay Airport & the San Carlos one.

The responses have been that the pilots deny any infractions of the bylaws (of course).  And they referred me onto the FAA who basically told us unless we get the numbers off of these plane tails & can "prove" they’re flying low & over our neighborhoods, not much can be done.

But I heard that a neighborhood near the Distillery complained so much that they shifted the aircraft from their area.

I’m hoping to have others that are feeling these invasive planes to help support moving them off of our area.

Every phone call to both airports will help.


Comment 1
Sun, September 30, 2007 2:22pm
K. Loegering
All my comments

It’s been 4 1/2 hours now that patterns are being flown over Moss Beach. According to law, patterns are supposed to be discouraged on weekends. The guys are in clear violation, they are barely above the trees. Every 2 - 3 minute an airplane is flying over our house. I called the airport and they told me it’s a busy day. I am waiting for a return call from a supervisor. Even with all windows closed you still have to raise your voice if you want to have a conversation. In 10+ years on the coast, I have never experienced anything like this.

I live in HMB, but today (Sunday) I just happened to be up near El Granada School at around 2pm. I was standing outside and small low flying planes kept going over head about once every few minutes. It seemed like they were all doing circles from the aitport. I have to say that I agree it would be kind of annoying to have to listen to that all day.

Comment 3
Mon, October 1, 2007 3:31pm
All my comments

What? Airplanes near an airport?

I’m shocked.

JB Cockrell

jb, how is this comment helpful?

For me this is not a conversation about airplanes near an airport but about recreational pilots who just don’t care and are in violation of the ordinances that were created so that everybody can co-exist. This behavior seems to be on the rise and gives a bad name to the airport. Why is it okay to violate the no pattern rule on weekends, to fly well below any recommended height limit to the point that you can read the tail numbers and to fly for 4+ hours over residential neighborhoods with planes coming at 1 - 2 minute intervals? Just because there is an airport does not mean that laws and regulations should not be enforced on those who seem to be above everybody else (no pun intended…)

K. Loegering….......My 2 month complaints have taken me “nowhere”.  Talked to supervisors at both HMB & San Carlos numerous times.  Don at San Carlos told me he came up Sunshine Valley one day and didn’t see any violations.

HMB denies any as well.  Well he’s viewing from the airport where they do land & take off.  That’s not the issue.  It’s when they come way low over populated neighborhoods & circle them; not the airport.

FAA just tells you without numbers, not much can be done.  Well like all Big Boys’ Clubs, they will naturally deny everything to protect each other.

I didn’t know about the “no weekend” flying.  Most of them are coming from the East; probably chased out from their own neighborhoods.  Two tags we got were out of Concord.

We’re getting our Zoom camera out & will have a description of them; then get the numbers one way or another.  Problem is alot don’t have numbers, or they’d have to be landed to get them.  But once you get that, & the violation is proven, pilots can lose their licence.  Perhaps “then”, others will “get it”.

Also heard there may be a livestock provision I’m checking into, as our horses are being affected as well.

Hoping we’ll get more people willing to get involved so we can once again have some quiet days without earplugs.

The noise abatement recommendations are as follows and posted on the official Half Moon Bay Airport website:

> No intersection takeoffs.
> No turns until reaching 500’ MSL.
> Reduce power/rpm as soon as safe and practical.
> Pattern work, especially touch-and-goes, is discouraged at night and on weekend and holiday mornings.
> No stop and goes.
> Fly Right Traffic for Runway 30 and Left Traffic for Runway 12.
> Avoid flying over Seton-Coastside Hospital, located just North of the airport.
> Maintain pattern altitude (1000’ MSL) until necessary to descend for landing.
> Avoid flying over homes whenever possible.
> No straight-in arrivals.
> Arrivals from the west fly overhead the airport at or above 1,500 MSL; continue outbound until clear of the traffic pattern and make a normal 45° entry into the downwind leg at 1000’ MSL.
> Aircraft over 12,500 pounds prohibited without prior approval from the airport manager.
> Use common sense and be considerate to airport neighbors.

Comment 7
Tue, October 2, 2007 12:05pm
Barry Parr
All my comments

Most of these sound like guidelines and not regulations.  Also, is the FAA the only enforcement body?

Good question Barry; that’s next on my list.  The FAA in Oakland who governs the HMB airport Noise Abatement shuttled me down to Southern California’s FAA, who has never returned my call (over a week ago).

I have a few other numbers to call that may lead me to a higher source.

Meanwhile, if anyone does get pictures or numbers, it would be helpful for us to share the information & start compiling evidence.

Thanks for asking.

Comment 9
Tue, October 2, 2007 7:59pm
Barb Mauz
All my comments

FYI, the County has been refusing to update to the current status the Air/Safety Standards and are operating the Half Moon Bay under 1974 Air/Safety Standards; there are way too many people under the current UNSAFE Air Traffic Patterns now. The County is also delaying the Half Moon Bay Airport’s Master Plan Update.

This is because the County wants to shove as much residential development including on the multitude of Antiquated 25’ Sub-Standard Lots in the Mid-Coast that are not even included in the old, over-estimated LCP Buildout Numbers along with additional commercial development as they can get away with before they do that, as the Air Saftey Standards will be much more restrictive in order to protect human life.

It is also well known that many Special Interest Groups have plans to expand runway lengths at the Half Moon Bay Airport and make other improvements with an intent to provide additional Air Traffic such as Commuter Jets. It is more than interesting that more and more Coastside residents are reporting low flying aircraft, including Commuter Jets in and out of the Half Moon Bay Airport.

The County’s so-called “LCP Update” consists of nothing but schemes to exploit all of these vulnerable, tiny lots - write to the Coastal Commission via Ruby Pap - Fax: (415) 904-5400 in advance of the Commission’s Public Hearing in December in San Francisco on County’s fraudulent, destructive “LCP Update” and request that the Commission remove the County’s jurisdiction over the Mid-Coast’s LCP, LCP Update, Land Use Plan, Zoning Regs., General Plan, Housing Element - Chapt. 14 (Housing Element), Design Review Standards, because these are the instruments that the County has infected with schemes such as the detmn. that 3,500 sf lots or larger, yet under the 5,000 sf lot Minimum Requirement will be considered BUILDABLE, AS A MATTER OF RIGHT! 

Note that complaints regarding Noise or Safety concerns can be made by calling 573-2666.

Barb Mauz

I believe that the FAA comes out with new safety standards every 3 years (or maybe it’s every 5 years?)  Regardless, the County is not doing the HMB Airport Master Plan Update, which is now around 10 years overdue.  Why?  Because updating the Plan requires the County to incorporate the latest FAA safety standards, which will almost certainly result in an expansion of the “Airport Overlay” zone in Princeton.  The AO restricts development and the County wants to allow as much development as possible before the Master Plan Update happens.  The County is behind by at least 4 editions of the FAA safety standards.  I’ve actually lost track—it’s more likely 6 by now.

I have not heard of any proposal to lengthen the runway.  However, everyone needs to understand that the runway is 5000’ feet of concrete, but has “displaced thresholds” which are something like 733’ from each end, indicated with a line painted across the runway.  This makes the effective length of the runway approximately 3500’.  I don’t remember for sure the rules, but it’s something like this:  on takeoff, a pilot must have wheels off the runway by the ending displaced threshold, and on landing, the pilot may not touch down until after the displaced threshold.  With that as background, be on the lookout for attempts to change the displaced thresholds!  Princeton property owners want to shift them to the north to allow more development in Princeton, which will increase the noise for the houses in Moss Beach under the flight path.  Some homeowners in Moss Beach want to shift the displaced thresholds to the south, which will increase the amount of land in Princeton in the AO, and will increase noise in El Granada.

BTW, the cited references to “Runway 30” and “Runway 12” are to the same runway—runways are designated with the first 2 digits of the compass point of their use.  “30” is heading 300 degrees, and is the normal direction of use of the HMB Airport runway.  When the wind is blowing the opposite direction, on average 10% of the time on a historical basis, operations go the other direction and the runway is then known as “12” for heading 120 degrees.  Note that 120 (“12”) + 180 (half a circle) = 300 (“30”).

How is it that the county can get away with following outdated safety standards? Are FAA standards merely optional, not mandatory?

Well I just called the number posted by Barb, hoping it was a “different” connection.  However, it was the San Carlos Airport, and I’ve been calling them for weeks.

They told me they’ve been over here and do not believe any of the planes have violated either the noise or height regulations.

In other words, we’re all liars.  I did get the FAA President’s name in Washington, D.C. who is the highest you can go before the President (oh no)!!

Anyway, for those who are interested in calling him…......His name is Administrator Sturgell.  They didn’t give me a ph.# so I’ll track it down.

I used to live near LAX, and the maintenance facilities weren’t far from my condo.  They were prohibited from doing engine “run ups” during certain hours.  We were instructed to call the tower for noise complaints occurring off-hours.  I once called at 1:30 am when they were doing a “run up”—which is very loud—and <u>while it was happening</u> the tower insisted there was nothing going on!  (He could probably hear it though the phone from my end!)  My recollection is that they were annoyed at being called for something as trivial as a noise complaint.  Those who enforce complaints against pilots must have a line in their job description specifying deaf, dumb, and blind.

I suggest time-stamped video with sound.  And if the plane is close enough to be a noise problem, video cameras should have enough of a zoom to read the “N” number which I’m pretty sure must be on the bottom of every airplane.

Comment 14
Wed, October 3, 2007 11:55pm
All my comments

thank you Carole , for getting the ball rolling on this issue.
We too object to our peace being shattered for hours on end..it is definately on the increase.
We are also worried it is devaluing our homes.


Well via the grapevine, heard officials are letting the pilots know our names/locations, etc. even though it’s legal.

So I’m out of here, and will hope others will do what is required for official complaints.

Tail #, time of day, where they are flying, and why it’s against the FAA policy.

No way should others invade our privacy & peace!!

Carole, do you mean illegal? I cannot imagine that it is legal to disclose who complains.

Sorry, just upset when I posted that.  I meant it is illegal to give Pilots our names/addresses.  But apparently that’s been violated as well.

Well obviously our complaints have not changed these intruders as last Sunday & yesterday were as bad as ever.

And now that our weather is changing, probably won’t see as many.  Perhaps they’ve heard enough about their violations being monitored, and will pick another airport/neighborhood to harrass.