|San Lorenzo Citizens Fighting Airport Noise|
The following information is digested from the "Annual Evaluation of the Performance-Based Noise Ordinance for Calendar Year 2006" prepared by the manager of the Hayward Executive Airport.
During 2006 there were 133,462 operations (takeoffs and landings), of which 3,029 occurred at night (9 p.m. to 7 a.m.). The total is a slight increase (4 percent) over 2005, reversing a steady decline in operations over several years. The number of nighttime operations was significantly less than in the previous year (3,574 in 2005). In 2006 nighttime operations were 2.3 percent of all operations, compared to 2.8 percent in 2005.
During the year 829 noise complaints were filed by 35 households. The total number of complaints is significantly less than in the previous year (947 in 2005), as is the number of households complaining (49 in 2005). Two San Lorenzo households were responsible for most (752) 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).
The reasoning for excluding these complaints, according to airport staff, is "the inability of staff to associate any reportable noise activity to many of the complaints and staff's objective to manage limited resources." (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" must mean noise above the limits set by the ordinance.)
The following findings for 2006 are based on the set of complaints that excludes all those complaints from two households that did not coincide with an exceedance of the city's noise limits.
The number of households registering noise complaints (35) was less than in the previous year (49), and the number of complaints (109) was significantly less than in 2005 (131). As in previous years, most (87) of these complaints were for noise between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Most complaints (81 percent) were from San Lorenzo. Residents in the Hayward neighborhoods of Longwood, Mobile Home Park, and Southgate filed 15 percent of all complaints. The remaining complaints (four only) 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.)
Like last year, noise complaints have been classified into six "causes": departures, general complaints, touch-and-go, run up, landings, and police (formerly "media/police"). Most complaints in 2006 (79 percent) were associated with "departures." The second largest category was "general complaints" (11 of the 131 complaints). This category is not defined in the 2006 report. It 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. The "media/police" category of former years is now "police". What all this semantic change means is not at all obvious.
Like last year, this year's report has information on the types of aircraft associated with complaints (information that was not provided for the years 2002-2004). Jets accounted for 63 complaints, single engine planes for 23, and helicopters and multi-engine aircraft for 11 and 12 complaints respectively.
As in past years, the report for 2006 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 2006 the airport's noise monitors recorded 136 exceedances of the noise limits, more than the 123 exceedances recorded in 2005 and a 16 percent increase since 2004. Most of the exceedances (114 out of 136) were caused by aircraft exempt from the city's noise ordinance. Of these, 111 were "stage 3" aircraft (compared to 97 in 2005, and 58 in 2004), most likely business jets, while only three were medical emergency flights (compared to 18 in 2005, and 29 in 2004).
In 2006 the number of nonexempt exceedances, or violations, was 21 (compared to 11 in 2005). Six of the violations were by aircraft based at the Hayward Airport (compared to none last year), while transient aircraft accounted for the remaining 15 violations. Thus the loudest disturbances continue to be created largely by pilots that the airport cannot effectively control. The airport manager does have 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."