San Lorenzo Citizens Fighting Airport Noise

Hayward Airport Annual Noise Evaluation
for Calendar Year 2011


The following information is taken from the "Annual Evaluation of the Performance-Based Noise Ordinance for Calendar Year 2011" (dated April 26, 2012) prepared by the manager of the Hayward Executive Airport.

During 2011 there were 89,799 operations (takeoffs and landings). The total is slightly more than in 2010 (87,122) but still much less than the total 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). As of 2011, airport management no longer separately tallies nightime operations because the count was based on observations of the overnight security officer (FAA traffic controllers do not operate in Hayward between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.).


During the year 564 noise complaints were filed by 39 households. The total number of complaints is significantly less than in preceding years (667 in 2010; 1,027 in 2009; 1,149 in 2008; 1,276 in 2007), while the number of households complaining (39) is also lower than in the previous three years. Two San Lorenzo households were responsible for most complaints (477). Of these, 445 complaints were determined to be "not correlated" with any measured exceedance or violation of 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 2011, reported by the City, are therefore based on only a small set of selected complaints (119) that were "correlated" with noise that exceeded the city's aircraft noise limits.

The number of households registering noise complaints (39) was less than in the two preceding years, but the number of complaints (119) was about the same (117 in 2010; 120 in 2009). As in previous years, most complaints (85) were for daytime noise (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.)

Most complaints were from San Lorenzo (75 percent), slightly higher than in the past two years but significantly lower than in earlier years (86 percent in 2007, 81 percent in 2006). Residents in the Hayward neighborhoods of Mobile Home Park and Southgate filed 7 percent of all complaints. Complaints from residents in "other" areas accounted for 18 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, overflights (formerly called "general", see below)), touch-and-go flying (training flights that take off, then land, without stopping), run up, and media/police. Most complaints in 2011 (65, or 55 percent) were associated with "departures," as has been the case in previous years (61.5 percent in 2010). The second largest category was "landings" (19), and the third largest "touch and go" (18).

(The category of "general complaints," which accounted for only four complaints in 2010, 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". Because of these changes in categories, the breakdown of "causes" provides little help in evaluating the specific sources of aircraft noise.)

Jets accounted for most complaints (64 of 119 complaints), but, as in recent years, complaints were directed in large numbers at other types of aircraft: single-engine planes (31 percent of complaints), helicopters (almost 13 percent), multi-engine aircraft (2.5 percent, down from 15.5 percent in 2008).

The City of Hayward continues to take the position that noise levels that do not violate the city's Aircraft Noise Ordinance are not significant 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 2011 the airport's noise monitors recorded 115 exceedances of the city's aircraft noise limits, a huge reduction from the 208 exceedances recorded in 2010 (compared to 197 in 2009; 151 in 2007; 136 in 2006; and 123 in 2005). As in every preceding year, most of the exceedances (111 out of 115) were caused by aircraft that are exempt from the city's aircraft noise ordinance. Of the exemptions, 106 were "stage 3" aircraft (compared to 189 in 2010; 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 only five exemptions, the same as in 2010.

In 2011 the number of nonexempt exceedances, or violations, was 4 (compared to 14 in 2010; 38 in 2009; 67 in 2008). The annual report again gives no explanation for the severe reduction in violations compared to preceding years. Transient aircraft accounted all 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."