|San Lorenzo Citizens Fighting Airport Noise|
The following information is digested from the "Annual Evaluation of the Performance-Based Noise Ordinance for Calendar Year 2005" prepared by the manager of the Hayward Executive Airport.
During 2005 there were 128,184 operations (takeoffs and landings), of which 3,574 occurred at night (9 p.m. to 7 a.m.). Compared to 2004, the total number of operations in 2005 was considerably less (8.5 percent), continuing a steady decline in operations over several years. The number of nighttime operations was less than in the previous year. However, in recent years nighttime flights at the Hayward Airport have increased as a percentage of total operations, particularly as total operations continue to decrease. In 2005 nighttime operations were 2.8 percent of all operations, compared to 2 percent in 2000.
During the year 947 noise complaints were filed by 49 households. The total number of complaints is considerably greater than in the previous year. Two San Lorenzo households were responsible for most (816) of the complaints. Of the complaints from these two households, the airport manager separated out those complaints that did not correlate with noise that exceeded the limits in the city's Aircraft Noise Ordinance (see below), i.e., all but 44 complaints.
The reasoning for excluding these complaints from the analysis of noise complaints changed from year to year in the past. This year, like last year, the exclusion is said to be "due to the inability of staff to associate any reportable noise activity to many of the complaints...." (The airport has several noise monitors that automatically record any aircraft noise above a certain threshold set by airport staff. That threshold is well below the limits set by the city ordinance. Thus, by "reportable noise" the airport manager must mean noise above the limits set by the ordinance.)
The following findings for 2005 are based on the set of complaints that excludes all those complaints from two households that did not coincide with an exceedance of the city's noise limits.
The number of households registering noise complaints (49) was less than in the previous year (61), and the number of complaints (131) was slightly less than in 2004 (154). As in previous years, most (114) of these complaints were for noise between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Most complaints (72 percent) were from San Lorenzo. Residents in the Hayward neighborhoods of Longwood, Mobile Home Park, and Southgate filed 16 percent of all complaints. The remaining complaints (13 percent) were from residents in Hayward neighborhoods not in the vicinity of the airport, as well as from residents of San Leandro, Castro Valley, Union City, and Fremont. (Complaints from distant areas may be caused by aircraft not operating from the Hayward Airport.)
The airport manager's report for 2005 divides noise complaints into six "causes": departures, general complaints, touch-and-go, run up, landings, and media/police. Most complaints in 2005 (72 percent) were associated with "departures." The second largest category was "media/police" (16 of the 131 complaints). This category refers euphemistically to the numerous TV-reporting helicopters and the East Bay Regional Parks District helicopter based at the airport. Data on complaints about helicopter noise have not been consistently reported from year to year. A "helicopter" category of complaints had been included in reports before 2001. The "general complaints" category was added in the 2000 report and represented the largest category of complaints that year. 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.
This year's report once again has information on the types of aircraft associated with complaints, information that was not provided for the years 2002-2004. Jets accounted for 62 complaints, single engine planes for 34, and helicopters and multi-engine aircraft for 15 complaints each.
As in past years, the report for 2005 assumes that complaints that are not associated with an actual violation of the city's Aircraft Noise Ordinance do not reflect as serious a disturbance as those complaints that match up with a violation of the ordinance.
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 2005 the airport's noise monitors recorded 123 exceedances of the noise limits. This is a few more than the 117 recorded in 2004. Almost all of these exceedances (115 out of 123) were caused by aircraft exempt from the city's noise ordinance. Of these, 97 were "stage 3" aircraft, most likely business jets, while 18 were medical emergency flights.
In 2005 the number of nonexempt exceedances, or violations, was 11, a significant decrease from the 30 violations in 2004 and more in line with the number in earlier years. All violations this year were by aircraft not based at the Hayward Airport (in previous years a few violations were by aircraft based at the airport). Thus the loudest disturbances continue to be created 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 landing at Hayward because it is "noisy."