|San Lorenzo Citizens Fighting Airport Noise|
The following information is digested from the "Annual Evaluation of the Performance-Based Noise Ordinance for Calendar Year 2002" prepared by the manager of the Hayward Executive Airport.
During 2002 there were 156,000 operations (takeoffs and landings), of which 3,688 occurred at night (9 p.m. to 7 a.m.). Compared to the previous year, the total number of operations in 2002 was less (8.5 percent), continuing a steady decline in operations in recent years. The number of nighttime operations was 5.7 percent greater than the previous year, thus continuing a trend: nighttime flights at the Hayward Airport are increasing as a percentage of total operations.
During the year 1,528 noise complaints were filed by 61 households. Most of these (1,424) were from two San Lorenzo households. Of the complaints from these two households, the airport manager separated out those complaints that did not correlate with noise that exceeded the limits in the city's Aircraft Noise Ordinance (see below), i.e., all but 12 complaints. The manager says this exclusion was necessary because of the "vagueness of the complaints, inability of staff to associate any reportable noise activity to many of the complaints, and staff's objective to better utilize limited resources." (It is unclear really what this means. Any aircraft noise that exceeds the Aircraft Noise Ordinance is automatically recorded by the airport's monitoring system, so presumably any complaints that cannot be matched to a known exceedance from a very small list -- the number of exceedances in 2002 was 85 -- are simply tossed aside as "vague". But what is "vague"? A noise complaint need only report the time of the noise; the airport has a computer system that automatically identifies individual flights at specific times along with their recorded noise impacts -- see below.)
The following findings for 2002 are based on exclusion of the large number of complaints from two households that do not match an exceedance of the city's noise limits.
The number of households (61) registering noise complaints is the same as in the previous year. The total number of complaints (after omitting the 1,424 from two households) was 116, compared to 120 for the previous year (again, after omitting the large number of complaints from two households). As in previous years, most of these complaints were for noise between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. However, like last year, nighttime noise is a growing disturbance for nearby residents (see the above note about increased nighttime flights).
In addition to complaints from San Lorenzo (69 percent of total), residents in the Hayward neighborhoods of Longwood, Mobile Home Park, and Southgate filed 12 percent of all complaints -- about the same as in the previous year. The remaining complaints (19 percent) 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 (complaints from distant areas may be caused by aircraft not operating from the Hayward Airport).
The category of "general noise complaints" was reintroduced this year; 40 of the 116 complaints are in this category. (The "general complaint" category had been included for the first time in the report for 2000 but was dropped in 2001. In the report for 2000 "general noise complaints" represented the largest category of complaints (47). In that report the airport manager explained that "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.") However, the "helicopter" category of complaints, included in earlier years' reports but also dropped in 2001, is again not used in this year's report. It is unclear whether complaints about helicopter noise are being reported as "general complaints," thus obscuring the cause of many noise complaints.
Although past years' reports had information on the number of complaints per type of aircraft, this year's report does not. Therefore it is not possible to determine what percent of complaints concerned jet aircraft noise. In previous years the percent of complaints over jet noise was gradually increasing.
As in past years, the report for 2002 continues to insinuate that complaints that are not associated with an actual violation of the Aircraft Noise Ordinance do not reflect as serious a disturbance as those complaints that match up with a violation of the ordinance. (At the same time, each year the noise complaint reports have less data and less commentary -- this year's report continues that trend.)
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. A single take-off can cause an exceedance of the limit to be recorded at more than one noise monitor (the airport has four monitors), but simultaneous exceedances produced by an aircraft count as only a single violation of the ordinance. Certain aircraft are exempt from the Aircraft Noise Ordinance. These are 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".)
During 2002 the airport's noise monitors recorded 85 exceedances of the noise limits. This is considerably less than the 120 exceedances recorded in 2001. In past years the majority of exceedances were by aircraft that are exempt from the ordinance; in 2002, however, only 43 percent (37 exceedances) were caused by exempt aircraft. This, too, represents a continuing trend: the number of exceedances caused by exempt aircraft has been steadily decreasing -- 75 percent in 1999, 72 percent in 2000, and 51 percent in 2001, and 43 percent in 2002. In other words, the City of Hayward's plan to attract personal ("business") jets is continuing to attract aircraft whose noise levels do not comply with the City's noise limits.
In 2002 the 48 nonexempt exceedances were caused by 25 take-offs; that is, there were 25 violations. This is a significant decrease from the 39 violations in 2001 (but a slight increase over the 21 violations in 2000). As in the past, almost all violations (23) were by aircraft not based at the Hayward Airport, while only 2 violations were caused by Hayward-based aircraft. (Interestingly, half of these violations were the subject of noise complaints from the two households responsible for the largest number of complaints.) Thus the loudest disturbances continue to be created by aircraft that the airport cannot effectively control.
Airport Noise and Operations Monitoring System In early 2003 the Hayward Airport installed an Airport Noise and Operations Monitoring System (ANOMS), a computer system that allows staff to effortlessly correlate data from the airport's noise monitors with flight path information from the FAA's radar system. In this way the staff can readily and accurately identify an airplane, its altitude and flight path, and recorded noise level associated with a noise complaint. According to the airport manager, "In addition to increased accuracy, ANOMS reduces the time necessary to analyze and respond to the public's inquiries."