Rep. Schiff Passes Landmark Legislation to Reduce Helicopter Noise in Los AngelesWednesday January 15, 2014
Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed a year-long spending package, which included a provision directing the Secretary of the Department of Transportation and FAA to address helicopter noise in Los Angeles County skies. Residents of the Los Angeles region have been plagued for decades by frequent and disruptive helicopter noise, and despite persistent efforts to work on a collaborative basis with stakeholders to reduce the impact of helicopter noise, little has changed.
Schiff stated: “After years of pushing, residents should finally begin to see some relief from unnecessary helicopter noise. This legislation will hold the FAA’s feet to the fire and ensure that they are making every effort to reduce helicopter noise. Now, the FAA will have one year to act on its pledge to reduce helicopter noise through voluntary measures, or be forced to put in place real rules to provide relief to homeowners.”
Last year, Schiff, Feinstein and other members of the Los Angeles delegation introduced legislation, the Los Angeles Residential Helicopter Noise Relief Act, and encouraged the FAA to act independently of legislation to reduce helicopter noise in Los Angeles. Following a lengthy study, the FAA released their report on the Los Angeles airspace, urging voluntary measures over a regulatory approach, which many homeowners and lawmakers felt was an insufficient response. This legislation, which is expected to pass and be signed into law later this week, will finally force the FAA to act.
Senator Feinstein and Schiff successfully included language in the omnibus spending bill that will be voted on later this week that would require the FAA to develop regulations related to the impact of helicopter use on the quality of life of LA County residents within one year unless the FAA can demonstrate the effectiveness of the six voluntary action items in the helicopter noise report. Efforts to include language in the omnibus were supported by the Los Angeles Helicopter Noise Coalition (LAHNC).
Below is the provision included in the appropriations bill:
Sec. 119D. The Secretary shall (1) evaluate and adjust existing helicopter routes above Los Angeles, and make adjustments to such routes if the adjustments would lessen impacts on residential areas and noise-sensitive landmarks; (2) analyze whether helicopters could safely fly at higher altitudes in certain areas above Los Angeles County; (3) develop and promote best practices for helicopter hovering and electronic news gathering; (4) conduct outreach to helicopter pilots to inform them of voluntary policies and to increase awareness of noise sensitive areas and events; (5) work with local stakeholders to develop a more comprehensive noise complaint system; and (6) continue to participate in collaborative engagement between community representatives and helicopter operators: Provided, That not later than one year after enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall begin the development of regulations related to the impact of helicopter use on the quality of life and safety of the people of Los Angeles County unless the Secretary can demonstrate the effectiveness of actions taken under the previous proviso to address helicopter noise.
Following the release of their report – the Los Angeles Helicopter Noise Initiative – Schiff and homeowners hosted a town hall meeting with the FAA in which they committed to support the following actions: evaluate existing helicopter routes to identify feasible modifications that could lessen impact on residential areas and noise-sensitive landmarks; analyze whether helicopters could safely fly at higher altitudes in certain areas along helicopter routes and at specific identified areas of concern; develop and promote best practices for helicopter hovering and electronic news gathering; conduct outreach to helicopter pilots to increase awareness of noise-sensitive areas and events; explore a more comprehensive noise complaint system; and continue the collaborative engagement between community representatives and helicopter operators, with interaction with the FAA.
This legislation will ensure that the FAA will complete their work on time and without delay. If after a year, residents, homeowners and business owners do not see a marked difference and reduction in the level of unnecessary helicopter noise, the legislation will require the FAA to set new rules and regulations – something that they thus far have been unwilling to do.