San Lorenzo Citizens Fighting Airport Noise

Hayward Airport Annual Noise Evaluation
for Calendar Year 2010


The following information is taken from the "Annual Evaluation of the Performance-Based Noise Ordinance for Calendar Year 2010" (dated March 17, 2011) prepared by the manager of the Hayward Executive Airport.

During 2010 there were 87,122 operations (takeoffs and landings), of which 2,308 occurred at night (9 p.m. to 7 a.m.). The total is almost 20 percent less than in 2009 (108,611). The annual number of operations at the airport has steadily declined over several years, a trend that has occurred at similar airports throughout the U.S. The number of nighttime operations (2,308) was considerably less than in recent years (3,292 in 2009, 4,040 in 2008, 4,231 in 2007, 3,029 in 2006, 3,574 in 2005). The percentage of nightime operations has held fairly steady in recent years (2.6 percent of all operations in 2010, 3 percent in 2009, 2.6 percent in 2008, 2.8 percent in 2007, and 2.3 percent in 2006).


During the year 667 noise complaints were filed by 54 households. The total number of complaints is significantly less than in the three previous years (1,027 in 2009, 1,149 in 2008; 1,276 in 2007), while the number of households complaining is the same as in 2009, but higher than in the recent past. Four San Lorenzo households were responsible for most complaints (591). Of the complaints filed, 550 complaints were determined to be "not correlated" with noise that exceeded the limits in the city's Aircraft Noise Ordinance (see below) and were therefore removed from the annual noise evaluation.

The reasons given for excluding these complaints are "the inability to associate any reportable noise activity to many of these complaints and staff's objective to manage limited resources." The explanation changes slightly from one year to the next, but the rationale remains obscure. The airport has several noise monitors that automatically record any aircraft noise above a certain threshold set by airport staff, a threshold that is well below the limits set by the city ordinance. These noise records are kept in a computer data base, and any record of noise at a particular date and time can be instantly identified. In fact, according to the annual report, airport staff go to the trouble of identifying the level of noise for each complaint in order to throw out complaints about noise below a certain level. In other words, "reportable noise" is any noise that exceeds the limit set in the City's ordinance. Complaints of "lesser" noise are not considered legitimate.

The following findings for 2010, reported by the City, are therefore based on only a small set of selected complaints that were "correlated" with noise that exceeded the city's noise limits (117 complaints).

The number of households registering noise complaints (54) was the same as in 2009, and the number of complaints (117) was about the same (120 in 2009). As in previous years, most complaints (97) were for noise between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Most complaints were from San Lorenzo (69 percent), about the same proportion as in the past two years but significantly lower than in previous years (86 percent in 2007, 81 percent in 2006). Residents in the Hayward neighborhoods of Mobile Home Park and Southgate filed 5 percent of all complaints. Complaints from residents in "other" areas accounted for 26 percent of complaints. (Complaints from distant areas may be caused by aircraft not operating from the Hayward Airport.)

Like last year, noise complaints are classified into six "causes": departures, landings, general complaints, touch-and-go flying (training flights that take off, then land, without stopping), run up, and media/police. Most complaints in 2010 (72 or 61.5 percent) were associated with "departures," as has been the case in previous years. The second largest category was "touch and go" (17), and the third largest "landings" (14).

The category of "general complaints," which accounts for only four complaints in 2010, is still undefined in annual reports. It was added in the report for the year 2000, when it represented the largest category of complaints. 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 earlier years became simply "police" until 2008, when the category was once again called "media/police". Without clear definitions from airport staff, these different categories are little help in evaluating the specific sources of aircraft noise.

Jets accounted for most complaints (68 of 117 complaints), but, as in recent years, complaints were directed in large numbers at other types of aircraft: single-engine planes (24.7 percent of complaints), helicopters (12.8 percent), multi-engine aircraft (4.3 percent, down from 15.5 percent in 2008).

As in past years, the report for 2010 reflects the attitude of the City of Hayward that noise levels that do not violate the city's Aircraft Noise Ordinance are not serious disturbances of nearby residents.

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 2010 the airport's noise monitors recorded 208 exceedances of the city's aircraft noise limits, slightly higher than the 197 exceedances recorded in 2009 (compared to 151 in 2007, 136 in 2006, and 123 in 2005). There has been a 78 percent increase in exceedances since 2004! Most of the exceedances (194 out of 208) were caused by aircraft that are exempt from the city's aircraft noise ordinance (compared to 159 in 2009, 130 in 2008). Of the exemptions, 189 were "stage 3" aircraft (compared to 151 in 2009, 122 in 2008, 123 in 2007, 111 in 2006, 97 in 2005, and 58 in 2004); these are most likely business jets. Medical emergency flights accounted for five exemptions (compared to 8 each in 2008 and 2009, 2 in 2007, 3 in 2006, 18 in 2005, and 29 in 2004).

In 2010 the number of nonexempt exceedances, or violations, was 14 (compared to 38 in 2009, 67 in 2008, 26 in 2007, 21 in 2006, 11 in 2005, 30 in 2004, and 18 in 2003). The annual report gives no explanation for the severe reduction in violations compared to preceding years. Only three of the violations were by aircraft based at the Hayward Airport (compared to 4 in 2009, 8 in 2008, and 4 in 2007), while transient aircraft accounted for the remaining 11 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."