|San Lorenzo Citizens Fighting Airport Noise|
The following information is digested from the "Annual Evaluation of the Performance-Based Noise Ordinance for Calendar Year 2003" prepared by the manager of the Hayward Executive Airport.
During 2003 there were 153,624 operations (takeoffs and landings), of which 3,782 occurred at night (9 p.m. to 7 a.m.). Compared to the previous year, the total number of operations in 2003 was less (1.6 percent), continuing a steady decline in operations in recent years. The number of nighttime operations was 2.5 percent greater than the previous year, thus continuing a trend: nighttime flights at the Hayward Airport are increasing as a percentage of total operations, particularly as total operations continue to decrease.
During the year 867 noise complaints were filed by 48 households. The total number of complaints is down considerably from the previous year because in recent years most complaints have been from two San Lorenzo households and the number of complaints from these two households in 2003 (705) was half the number for 2002 (1,424). 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 54 complaints.
The manager has said this exclusion is 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." (Any aircraft noise that exceeds the city's Aircraft Noise Ordinance is automatically recorded by the airport's monitoring system. Apparently any complaints that cannot be matched to a very small number of known exceedances -- the number of exceedances in 2003 was 123 -- are simply tossed aside as "vague". But what is "vague"? The airport manager continues to refuse to explain what he means by "vague." A noise complaint need only report the time of the noise; the airport has a computer system, ANOMS, that automatically identifies any aircraft that takes offs or lands, the time, its flight track to or from the airport, and its noise impact recorded by monitors at the airport.)
The following findings for 2003 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 registering noise complaints (48) was less than in the previous year (61). However, the number of complaints (162) was considerably greater than in 2002 (116). That is, the number of complaints per household increased, meaning that noise became a greater problem for some people in 2003. As in previous years, most (122) 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 (no doubt because of the increase in nighttime flights).
Most complaints (81 percent) were from San Lorenzo, a significant increase over the previous year (69 percent). Residents in the Hayward neighborhoods of Longwood, Mobile Home Park, and Southgate filed 14 percent of all complaints -- about the same as in the previous year. The remaining complaints (5 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 airport manager's annual report divides noise complaints into five "causes": departures, general complaints, touch-and-go, run up, and landings. Most complaints in 2003 (82 percent) were associated with "departures." The second largest category was "general noise complaints" (21 of the 162 complaints). The "general complaint" category had been included for the first time in the report for 2000, dropped in 2001, and included again in 2002. (In the report for 2000 "general noise complaints" represented the largest category of complaints. 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.") Complaints of helicopter noise are still not reported by the airport. A "helicopter" category of complaints had been included in earlier years' reports but was dropped in 2001. It is unclear whether complaints about helicopter noise are being reported as "general complaints," thus obscuring the cause of many noise complaints.
Like last year's report, the report for 2003 does not have information on the number of complaints per type of aircraft, information that was provided before 2002. Therefore it is not possible to determine what percent of complaints concerned jet aircraft or helicopter noise. In previous years the percent of complaints over jet noise was gradually increasing.
As in past years, the report for 2003 assumes that complaints that are not associated with an actual violation of the city's Aircraft Noise Ordinance do not reflect as serious a disturbance as those complaints that match up with a violation of the ordinance.
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 2003 the airport's noise monitors recorded 123 exceedances of the noise limits. This is considerably greater than the 85 recorded in 2002 but on a par with the 120 exceedances recorded in 2001. In 2003 a whopping 85 percent of exceedances were caused by exempt aircraft. This reverses a trend. The number of exceedances caused by exempt aircraft had been steadily decreasing -- 75 percent in 1999, 72 percent in 2000, 51 percent in 2001, and 43 percent in 2002. The airport manager's report does not explain the very large increase in aircraft exempt from the city's Aircraft Noise Ordinance. The increase can only be due to either more medical emergency flights or more business jets that fit the "stage3" definition.
In 2003 the number of nonexempt exceedances, or violations, was 18, a significant decrease from the 25 violations in 2002. As in the past, almost all violations (16) were by aircraft not based at the Hayward Airport, while only 2 violations were caused by Hayward-based aircraft. Thus the loudest disturbances continue to be created by aircraft that the airport cannot effectively control. (The airport manager has effective control over aircraft based at the airport through the terms of the lease for the aircraft.)