San Lorenzo Citizens Fighting Airport Noise

Hayward Airport Annual Noise Evaluation
for Calendar Year 2013

Summary (preliminary)

The following information is taken from the "Annual Evaluation of the Performance-Based Noise Ordinance for Calendar Year 2013" (dated April 24, 2014) prepared by the manager of the Hayward Executive Airport.

During 2013 there were 100,138 operations (takeoffs and landings). The total is significantly greater than in 2012 (83, 173), reversing a steady decline over several years (a decline that has occurred at similar airports throughout the U.S.). Nightime operations (9 p.m. to 7 a.m.) have not been counted since 2011 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 552 noise complaints were filed by 68 households. The total number of complaints is much less than in 2012 (612 complaints), but the number of households complaining is much greater (compare 45 in 2012). Two San Lorenzo households were responsible for most complaints (442). Of these complaints from two households, 426 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 2013.

The reasons given for excluding these complaints from two households are "the inability to associate any reportable noise activity to many of these complaints and staff's objective to manage limited resources." Complaints that are uncorrelated with an exceedance of the Aircraft Noise Ordinance are characterized as "anomalies". Yet "uncorrelated" complaints from other households are not removed. The explanation for this data manipulation 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 one 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 2013, reported by the City, are therefore based on only a small set of selected complaints (126) that were "correlated" with noise that exceeded the city's aircraft noise limits.

The number of households registering noise complaints (68) is higher than in prior years but the number of complaints (126) is about the same (compared to 133 complaints in 2012; 119 in 2011; 117 in 2010; 120 in 2009). As in previous years, most complaints in 2013 were for daytime noise (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.). However, as in 2012, the number of complaints for nighttime noise (7 p.m. to 7 a.m.) was higher than in earlier years.

As in the past, most complaints were from San Lorenzo (XX percent). The next largest group of complaints was from residents in the Hayward neighborhoods of Mobile Home Park, Longwood, and Southgate. Complaints from residents in "other" areas accounted for the same number as Hayward residents. (Complaints from distant areas may be caused by aircraft not operating from the Hayward Airport.)

As in the preceding two years, noise complaints in 2013 are classified into six "causes" (types of aircraft operation): 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 orbit. The category "orbit" is new in 2013, while the category "media/police," used in past years, was not used in 2013. Most complaints in 2013 were associated with "departures", as in previous years. All other complaints were distributed more or less evenly among the other five operation types.

(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.)

Unlike prior years, multi-engine planes accounted for most noise complaints (XX percent of 126 complaints), followed by single-engine planes (XX percent), jets (XX percent), and lastly helicopters (XX 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 2013 the airport's noise monitors recorded 101 exceedances of the noise limits in the City's ordinance, slightly less than in 2012 (106 exceedances) and continuing a trend in reduction from earlier years (115 exceedances in 2011; 208 in 2010; 197 in 2009; 151 in 2007; 136 in 2006; and 123 in 2005). As in every preceding year, most of the exceedances (99 of 101) were caused by aircraft that are exempt from the City's aircraft noise ordinance because the aircrafts' design ratings comply with "stage 3" or "stage 4" noise standards.

In 2013 the number of nonexempt exceedances, or violations, was 2 (compared to 6 in 2012; 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."