|San Lorenzo Citizens Fighting Airport Noise|
The following information is digested from the "Annual Evaluation of the Performance-Based Noise Ordinance for Calendar Year 2004" prepared by the manager of the Hayward Executive Airport.
During 2004 there were 140,102 operations (takeoffs and landings), of which 3,922 occurred at night (9 p.m. to 7 a.m.). Compared to the previous year, the total number of operations in 2004 was considerably less (8.8 percent), continuing a steady decline in operations over several years. The number of nighttime operations was 3.7 percent greater than the previous year, continuing a trend: nighttime flights at the Hayward Airport are increasing as a percentage of total operations, particularly as total operations continue to decrease. In 2004 nighttime operations were 2.8 percent of all operations, compared to 2 percent in 2000.
During the year 710 noise complaints were filed by 61 households. The total number of complaints is significantly less than in the previous year. Two San Lorenzo households were responsible for most (556) of the complaints. 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 44 complaints.
Since the previous annual report, the manager has changed his reasoning for excluding these complaints from the analysis of noise complaints. The exclusion is now "due to the inability of staff to associate any reportable noise activity to many of the complaints...." (The airport has several noise monitors that automatically record any aircraft noise above a certain threshold set by airport staff. That threshold is well below the limits set by the city ordinance. Thus, by "reportable noise" the airport manager must mean noise above the limits set by the ordinance.)
The following findings for 2004 are based on the set of complaints that excludes all those complaints from two households that did not concern an exceedance of the city's noise limits.
The number of households registering noise complaints (61) was greater than in the previous year (48). However, the number of complaints (154) was slightly less than in 2003 (162). That is, more households complained but less often than in 2003. As in previous years, most (119) of these complaints were for noise between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Most complaints (68 percent) were from San Lorenzo, a significant decrease from 2003 (81 percent). Residents in the Hayward neighborhoods of Longwood, Mobile Home Park, and Southgate filed 20 percent of all complaints -- a much higher rate than in 2003. The remaining complaints (12 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 report for 2004 divides noise complaints into six "causes": departures, general complaints, touch-and-go, run up, landings, and media/police. Most complaints in 2004 (66 percent) were associated with "departures." The second largest category was "media/police" (22 of the 154 complaints). The "media/police" category is new and may account for the decrease (from 2003) in percentage of complaints due to "departures." This category no doubt refers euphemistically to the numerous TV-reporting helicopters and the East Bay Regional Parks District helicopter based at the airport. Data on complaints about helicopter noise have not been consistently reported from year to year. A "helicopter" category of complaints had been included in reports before 2001. The "general complaints" category was added in the 2000 report and represented the largest category of complaints that year. In that report the airport manager explained that "general complaints" concerned "traffic watch", meaning the KGO and East Bay Regional Park District helicopters then based at the airport. He brushed aside these complaints, noting that "these are common complaints in a metropolitan area." The "general complaint" category was dropped in 2001 but included again in 2002.
Like last year's report, the report for 2004 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, whose numbers are increasing dramatically at the airport. In previous years the percent of complaints over jet noise was gradually increasing.
As in past years, the report for 2004 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 2004 the airport's noise monitors recorded 117 exceedances of the noise limits. This is a few less than the 123 recorded in 2003. The majority of exceedances (74 percent) were caused by aircraft exempt from the city's noise ordinance. Of these, two-thirds (58) were "stage 3" aircraft, most likely business jets, while one-third (29) were medical emergency flights.
In 2004 the number of nonexempt exceedances, or violations, was 30, a very large increase over the 18 violations in 2003. As in the past, almost all violations (28) 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 pilots that the airport cannot effectively control. The airport manager has effective control over an aircraft based at the airport through the terms of the lease for the aircraft, which include a requirement that the owner comply with all airport and city regulations. But under Federal Aviation Administration regulations an aircraft cannot be barred from landing at Hayward because it is "noisy."