By Michael YEGHIAYAN
Residents of the Verdugo area bothered by helicopter noise may find a lack of plausible avenues for relief.
With legislation making its way through Congress and the California Senate, lawmakers have made the issue a clear priority. However, the complex nature of air traffic make regulation a difficult prospect. The majority of low altitude flight responsible for the most intrusive noise is generated from emergency situations and breaking news, rather than from routine flight paths.
This is particularly true in Glendale, where Public Information Officer Tom Lorenz described the levels of noise from city aircraft as “next to nothing.” Instead, Lorenz pointed to air traffic from the news media as one of the main noise pollution offenders.
Local media has taken a greater interest in the Verdugo area lately with sightings of “Meatball” the bear and the more recent coverage of another bear spotted in La Canada Flintridge earlier this month.
“The helicopters that the city uses are extremely quiet, they have even been dubbed the ‘silent enforcer,’” said Lorenz. “Additionally, our helicopters are not in the air before noon.”
Congressman Adam Schiff has introduced legislation, currently residing in a committee, that calls for FAA regulation of helicopters. The “Helicopter Noise Relief Act of 2013” was brought before Congress in February.
While the new legislation would increase regulation on some air traffic, emergency vehicles and military aircraft would be unaffected.
Helicopters are also unlikely to hover in a single area, which creates greater noise and stronger vibration. Flight paths will not call for an aircraft to circle an area unless extenuating circumstances call for it, such as an active police investigation.
The Glendale Police Dept. operate MD500 series helicopters that feature a much quieter tail rotor system than found in traditional helicopters. The Pasadena Police Dept. has recently adopted similar aircraft to their fleet.
In addition to the federal bill, Senator Ted Lieu introduced a joint resolution to the California State Senate in March calling for Congress and President Obama to act on the bill.
“Los Angeles County residents who have endured the cacophony of seemingly endless helicopter flights over their homes need relief,” Lieu said in a statement. “When one can’t sleep or talk because of helicopter noise, it hurts the quality of life.”