|San Lorenzo Citizens Fighting Airport Noise|
The following information is digested from the "Annual Evaluation of the Performance-Based Noise Ordinance for Calendar Year 2007" prepared by the manager of the Hayward Executive Airport.
During 2007 there were 149,975 operations (takeoffs and landings), of which 4,231 occurred at night (9 p.m. to 7 a.m.). The total is a slight increase (1.2 percent) over 2006, the second year in which operations increased after a steady decline over several years. There was a huge increase in the number of nighttime operations compared to the preceding two years (3,029 in 2006, 3,574 in 2005). In 2007 nighttime operations were 2.8 percent of all operations, compared to 2.3 percent in 2006.
During the year 1,276 noise complaints were filed by 30 households. The total number of complaints is 54 percent greater than in the previous year (829 in 2006), while the number of households complaining is less (35 in 2006). Two San Lorenzo households were responsible for most (1,217) 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).
The reasoning for excluding these complaints, according to airport staff, is "the inability of staff to associate any reportable noise activity to many of the complaints and staff's objective to manage limited resources." (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, "reportable noise" must mean noise above the limits set by the ordinance.)
The following findings for 2007 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 (30) was less than in the previous year (35), and the number of complaints (84) was considerably less than in 2006 (109). As in previous years, most (68) complaints were for noise between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Most complaints (86 percent) were from San Lorenzo. Residents in the Hayward neighborhoods of Mobile Home Park and Southgate filed four percent of all complaints. The remaining complaints (eight) 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.)
Noise complaints have been classified into six "causes": departures, general complaints, touch-and-go, run up, and police. The category "landings," which was included in the report for 2006, is not included this year. Most complaints in 2007 (81 percent) were associated with "departures." The second largest category was "general complaints" (9 of the 84 complaints). This category has not been defined in the 2006 or 2007 annual reports. It 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 former years is now "police". What all this semantic change means is not at all obvious.
Jets accounted for 57 complaints, single engine planes for 7 (down from 23 in 2006), and helicopters and multi-engine aircraft for 7 and 13 complaints respectively.
As in past years, the report for 2007 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 2007 the airport's noise monitors recorded 151 exceedances of the city's aircraft noise limits, compared to 136 in 2006 and 123 in 2005. There has been a 29 percent increase in exceedances since 2004. Most of the exceedances (125 out of 151) were caused by aircraft that are exempt from the city's aircraft noise ordinance. Of the exemptions, 123 were "stage 3" aircraft (compared to 111 in 2006, 97 in 2005, and 58 in 2004); these are most likely business jets. Medical emergency flights accounted for only two exemptions (compared to 3 in 2006, 18 in 2005, and 29 in 2004).
In 2007 the number of nonexempt exceedances, or violations, was 26 (compared to 21 in 2006 and 11 in 2005). Four of the violations were by aircraft based at the Hayward Airport (compared to two last year), while transient aircraft accounted for the remaining 22 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."