San Lorenzo Citizens Fighting Airport Noise

Hayward Airport Annual Noise Evaluation
for Calendar Year 2014

Summary (preliminary)

The following information is taken from the "Annual Evaluation of the Performance-Based Noise Ordinance for Calendar Year 2014" (dated January 22, 2015) prepared by the manager of the Hayward Executive Airport.

During 2014 there were 112,726 operations (takeoffs and landings). The total is significantly greater than in 2013 (100,138), the second year of a reversal of a steady decline in traffic 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 483 noise complaints were filed by XX households. The total number of complaints is much less than in the two preceding years (552 complaints in 2013; 610 complaints in 2012). The number of households complaining in 2014 was not reported. 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 2014.

No explanation is given in the 2014 report for excluding these complaints from two households. In the past the explanation for this exclusioin was "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 have been 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 2014, reported by the City, are therefore based on only a small set of selected complaints (152) received by the City.

The number of complaints (152) is significantly higher than in recent years (compare 126 complaints in 2013; 133 in 2012; 119 in 2011; 117 in 2010; 120 in 2009). As in previous years, most complaints in 2014 were for daytime noise (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.). However, as in 2013, the number of complaints for nighttime noise (7 p.m. to 7 a.m.) was higher than in earlier years (__ in 2014; __ in 2013; __ in 2012; __ in 2011).

As in the past, most complaints were from San Lorenzo (80 of 152). The next largest source of complaints was Hayward neighborhoods near the airport (42), followed by complaints from residents outside Hayward (30). (Complaints from distant areas may be caused by aircraft not operating from the Hayward Airport.)

As in the preceding two years, noise complaints in 2014 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" was first used in 2013; the category "media/police," used in past years, was not used in 2013 or 2014. Most complaints in 2014 were associated with "departures" (75), as in previous years. The second largest group was landings (27), followed by touch-and-go flying (23).

(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.)

The year 2014 was the first year that jets accounted for most complaints (81), followed by helicopters (37, or 24 percent), multi-engine planes (18, or 12 percent), and single-engine planes (16, or 11 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 2014 the airport's noise monitors recorded 94 exceedances of the noise limits in the City's ordinance, slightly less than in 2013 (101 exceedances) and continuing a trend in reduction from earlier years (106 exceedances in 2012; 115 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 2014 there was only one nonexempt exceedance, or violation (compared to 2 in 2013; 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 in recent years. Historically, violations have been the result primarily of departures of transient jet aircraft (aircraft that are not based at the Hayward Airport). The airport manager has no effective control over such aircraft, whereas aircraft based at the airport can be controlled through the terms of the lease, which include a requirement that the owner comply with all airport and city regulations.