|San Lorenzo Citizens Fighting Airport Noise|
The following information is taken from the "Annual Evaluation of the Performance-Based Noise Ordinance for Calendar Year 2012" (dated April 25, 2013) prepared by the manager of the Hayward Executive Airport.
During 2012 there were 83,173 operations (takeoffs and landings). The total is significantly less than in 2011 (89,799). 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. As of 2011, nightime operations (9 p.m. to 7 a.m.) are no longer counted because the count, based on reports by the overnight security officer, was thought to be unreliable. (FAA traffic controllers do not operate at the Hayward Airport between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.).
During the year 612 noise complaints were filed by 45 households. The total number of complaints is slightly higher than in 2011 (564 complaints), as was the number of households complaining (39 in 2011). Two San Lorenzo households were responsible for most complaints (504). Of these, 479 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 data considered in the noise evaluation for 2012.
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 2012, reported by the City, are therefore based on only a small set of selected complaints (133) that were "correlated" with noise that exceeded the city's aircraft noise limits.
Both the number of households registering noise complaints (45) and the number of complaints (133) were higher than in the three preceding years (compare 119 complaints in 2011; 117 in 2010; 120 in 2009). As in previous years, most complaints were for daytime noise (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.). However, in 2012 the number of complaints for nighttime noise (7 p.m. to 7 a.m.) rose significantly, more than double that in each of the two preceding years.
Most complaints were from San Lorenzo (XX percent). Residents in the Hayward neighborhoods of Mobile Home Park and Southgate filed XX percent of all complaints. Complaints from residents in "other" areas accounted for XX percent of complaints. (Complaints from distant areas may be caused by aircraft not operating from the Hayward Airport.)
As in the preceding two years, noise complaints in 2012 are classified into six "causes": departures, landings, overflights (formerly called "general", see next paragraph)), touch-and-go flying (training flights that take off, then land, without stopping), run ups, and media/police. Most complaints in 2012 were associated with "departures" (47 percent), as in previous years (55 percent in 2011; 62 percent in 2010). The second largest category was "landings", and the third largest "touch and go".
(Historical Note: The category of "general complaints" was first 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 reports for 2002 through 2010; in 2011 the category was changed to "overflights". 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 noise complaints (52 of 133 complaints, or 39 percent), but, as in recent years, complaints were also directed in large numbers at other types of aircraft: helicopters (31 percent), single-engine planes (17 percent of complaints), multi-engine aircraft (13 percent).
The City of Hayward continues to take the position that aircraft 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 or "stage-3" and "stage-4" aircraft ("stage 3" and "stage 4" refer to jet aircraft with the latest noise-supression technology, which does not necessarily mean these aircraft are "quiet".)
During 2012 the airport's noise monitors recorded 106 exceedances of the noise limits in the City's ordinance, slightly less than in 2011 (115 exceedances) and continuing a trend in reduction from earlier years (208 exceedances in 2010; 197 in 2009; 151 in 2007; 136 in 2006; and 123 in 2005). As in every preceding year, most of the exceedances (100 of 106) were caused by aircraft that are exempt from the City's aircraft noise ordinance because the aircrafts' design rating complies with "stage 3" or "stage 4" noise standards.
In 2012 the number of nonexempt exceedances, or violations, was 6 (compared to 4 in 2011; 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. Violations continue to be primarily from departures of transient jet aircraft (aircraft that are not based at the Hayward Airport). Thus the loudest disturbances continue to be created largely 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 using Hayward Airport simply because it is "noisy."