|San Lorenzo Citizens Fighting Airport Noise|
The following information is digested from the "Annual Evaluation of the Performance-Based Noise Ordinance for Calendar Year 2008" prepared by the manager of the Hayward Executive Airport.
During 2008 there were 153,684 operations (takeoffs and landings), of which 4,040 occurred at night (9 p.m. to 7 a.m.). The total is a slight increase (2.5 percent) over 2007, the third year in which operations have increased after a steady decline over several years. The number of nighttime operations (4,040) decreased slightly over last year, offsetting the huge increase in 2007 (4,231 in 2007, 3,029 in 2006, 3,574 in 2005). In 2008 nighttime operations were 2.6 percent of all operations, compared to 2.8 percent in 2007 and 2.3 percent in 2006.
During the year 1,149 noise complaints were filed by 52 households. The total number of complaints is slightly less than in the previous year (1,276 in 2007), while the number of households complaining is much higher than in the preceding year (30 in 2007). Two San Lorenzo households were responsible for most complaints (1,066). 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 reported complaints with actual exceedances or violations for the majority of complaints registered 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 any complaint that is not in response to noise in excess of the City's legislated noise limits is not considered a legitimate complaint.
The following findings for 2008 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 (52) was much higher than in the previous year (30), and the number of complaints (110) was also considerably higher than in 2007 (84). As in previous years, most complaints (87) were for noise between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Most complaints were from San Lorenzo (65 percent), but the percentage from San Lorenzo compared to other areas was drastically lower than in previous years (86 percent in 2007, 81 percent in 2006). Residents in the Hayward neighborhoods of Mobile Home Park and Southgate filed 13 percent of all complaints. Complaints 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, were twice the number in 2007 (22 percent in 2008 versus 10 percent for 2007). (Complaints from distant areas may be caused by aircraft not operating from the Hayward Airport.)
Noise complaints this year have been classified into six "causes": departures, landings, general complaints, touch-and-go flying (training flights that take off, then land, without stopping), run up, and media/police. Most complaints in 2008 (60 percent) were associated with "departures," down considerably from 2007 (81 percent). The second largest category was "touch and go" (16 percent). "General complaints" accounted for 10 percent of complaints. This category has not been defined in recent 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 earlier years became simply "police" until this year, when the category was once again called "media/police". Without clear definitions from airport staff, all this semantic change is puzzling.
Jets accounted for the most complaints (53 of 110 complaints), while for the first time in several years complaints were directed in large numbers at other types of aircraft: helicopters (19 percent of complaints), single engine planes (17 percent), multi-engine aircraft (15.5 percent).
As in past years, the report for 2008 assumes that complaints that are not associated with an actual violation of the city's Aircraft Noise Ordinance do not reflect a serious disturbance 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 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 2008 the airport's noise monitors recorded 197 exceedances of the city's aircraft noise limits, compared to 151 in 2007, 136 in 2006, and 123 in 2005. There has been a 68 percent increase in exceedances since 2004. Most of the exceedances (130 out of 197) were caused by aircraft that are exempt from the city's aircraft noise ordinance. Of the exemptions, 122 were "stage 3" aircraft (compared to 123 in 2007, 111 in 2006, 97 in 2005, and 58 in 2004); these are most likely business jets. Medical emergency flights accounted for eight exemptions (compared to 2 in 2007, 3 in 2006, 18 in 2005, and 29 in 2004).
In 2008 the number of nonexempt exceedances, or violations, was 67 (compared to 26 in 2007, 21 in 2006, 11 in 2005, 30 in 2004, and 18 in 2003). This is triple the average for the past five years! Eight of the violations were by aircraft based at the Hayward Airport (compared to four last year), while transient aircraft accounted for the remaining 59 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."