|San Lorenzo Citizens Fighting Airport Noise|
The following information is digested from the "Annual Evaluation of the Performance-Based Noise Ordinance for Calendar Year 2001" prepared by the manager of the Hayward Executive Airport.
During 2001 there were 169,266 operations (takeoffs and landings), of which 3,489 occurred at night (9 p.m. to 7 a.m.). Compared to the previous year, the total number of operations in 2001 was slightly greater (2.2 percent), while the number of nighttime operations was 4.4 percent greater. Thus, nighttime flights at the Hayward Airport are increasing as a percentage of total operations.
During the year 1,539 noise complaints were filed by 61 households. Of these, most (1,428) were from a single San Lorenzo household. Excluding this large number of complaints from a single household results in the following findings for 2001.
The number of households (61) registering noise complaints is up from the previous year but still less than in 1999, when 75 households filed complaints. The total number of complaints (after omitting the 1,428 from a single household) was 120, compared to 131 for the previous year (again, after omitting a large number of complaints from a single household). As in previous years, most of these complaints were for noise between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. However, like last year, complaints of noise for this period were a much smaller percentage of total complaints compared to previous years, meaning that nighttime noise is a growing disturbance for nearby residents (see the above note about increased nighttime flights). About 41 percent of complaints were for jet aircraft noise that exceeded the limits set by a City of Hayward aircraft noise ordinance (see below).
In addition to complaints from San Lorenzo (77 percent of total), residents in the Hayward neighborhoods of Longwood, Mobile Home Park, and Southgate filed 10 percent of all complaints -- the same as in the previous year. The remaining complaints were from residents in Hayward neighborhoods not in the vicinity of the airport, as well as from residents of San Leandro, Castro Valley, Union City, and Fremont. The percentage of these "other" complaints, 12 percent, was drastically down compared to previous years (41% in 2000, 31% in 1999, 21% in 1998, and 26% in 1997), meaning that the number of complaints from residents in the immediate vicinity of the airport has increased considerably.
The category of "general noise complaints" -- included for the first time in last year's report -- was dropped this year. In last year's report "general noise complaints" represented the largest category of complaints (47). (In last year's report the airport manager explained that these "general" complaints concerned "traffic watch", i.e., KGO, and East Bay Regional Park police helicopters. He brushed aside these complaints, noting that "these are common complaints in a metropolitan area.") At the same time, this year's report also dropped the "helicopter" category of complaints, included in previous years' reports. Clearly the airport manager does not wish to draw attention to the nuisance created by the airport's tenant helicopter operators.
Violations of the Airport Noise Ordinance
The City of Hayward, as owner of the Hayward Airport, has an ordinance that sets noise limits for aircraft operating at the airport. During 2001 the airport's noise monitors recorded 119 exceedances of the noise limits. This is slightly less than the 124 exceedances recorded in 2000. As in past years, the majority of exceedances (61) were by aircraft that are exempt from the ordinance, largely medical emergency aircraft and "stage-3" aircraft. ("Stage 3" describes jet aircraft with the latest noise-supression technology, which does not mean these aircraft are necessarily "quiet".) However, the percentage of exempt exceedances (51 percent) was much less than in preceding years (72 percent in 2000, 75 percent in 1999), meaning that the City of Hayward's plan to attract personal ("business") jets is producing not only more noise for nearby residents, but attracting aircraft whose noise levels don't even meet the City's own (very high) noise limits.
(Some very noisy jet aircraft were diverted from the Oakland Airport to Hayward following the September 11 attacks in 2001. Several of these flights exceeded the City's noise limits but the airport manager counted these exceedances as "exempt" because of the circumstances.)
A single flight can produce exceedances at more than one noise monitor (the airport has four monitors), but simultaneous exceedances produced by the same (nonexempt) aircraft result in only a single violation of the ordinance. In 2001 the 58 nonexempt exceedances were caused by 39 take-offs; that is, there were 39 violations. This is a significant increase over the 21 violations incurred in 2000. As in the past, almost all violations (36) were by aircraft not based at the Hayward Airport, while only 3 violations were created by Hayward-based aircraft.
Oddly enough, the airport manager concludes his report for 2001 by noting that, since 1992, the number of noise complaints that correlate with exceedances of the City's noise ordinance has decreased considerably. What is the point of this arcane statistic? That residents have finally been subdued?