It was standing room only at the Sunday March 20 meeting of Culver City for Quiet Skies, with almost a hundred people attending to connect with the grassroots organization focused on the jet noise that has been persistently increasing over Culver City.
The organizers asked those who were personally experiencing increased jet noise to raise their hands, and most of the room responded. Mark Herscovitz gave a simple summary of the group’s history and aims; since the Fall of 2015, the organization has been asking Culver City residents to contact the Federal Aviation Administration with their concerns about noise and flight paths.
Other cities across the country are also being affected by this change in flight paths and altitude. Baltimore and Phoenix are involved with their citizens’ concerns and the state of California has Palo Alto, San Diego and Santa Cruz all protesting the increase in jet noise.
The challenges are multiple; while the FAA is preparing a new program for flights called NextGen, this program does not yet have a start date. Meanwhile, residents are noticing that flight paths have already changed, with jets coming in lower and far more often than they did a few years ago.
Deanna Newell noted that “flights not only disturb neighborhoods, they are also disturbing our students. The flight path goes over four of our schools ( Lin Howe and the school complex on Farragut and Elenda) and the noise is disruptive to classes.”
While the FAA maintains that nothing has changed, the data collected by both Quiet Skies and the City of Culver City tells another story. In addition, there are apps available that give the exact number of feet that jets are flying, and trace the path of descent. Empirical evidence contradicts the FAA’s official story that things are just as they always have been.
Susan Collins offered that the email response from the FAA was artfully deceptive. “Read what they say very carefully. It’s tricky language that implies that it’s just the same. Let’s not be repeating [inaccurate] information.” While complaints sent directly to the FAA get an email response stating that ‘the same number of flights’ are using the airspace, it begs the question of how low they are flying or how often they are scheduled.
The city council candidates who came to address the problem were unanimous in their support of a lawsuit from the city once the Environmental Impact Report was completed. With Council member Meghan Sahli-Wells noting that the city was already in litigation with LAX in regard to it’s approaching expansion plans, she said, “This is going to be a long process. Every time we talk to LAX or the FAA about the flight noise, they are telling us we’re victims of some collective hysteria. We’re not.” She also noted that Los Angeles City Council member Mike Bonin can hear the planes over his house. “He’s with us, and that’s a great ally to have in this fight.”
When Culver City Crossroads first published on this, I felt that it was a non-issue. ( culvercitycrossroads.com/2015/09/02/just-a-thought-air-fair-and-the-plane-truth/.) It was only a few weeks later that I experienced two flights, perhaps as little as 15 minutes apart, landing over my house so low that it was at least a 2.5 on the Richter scale. This is disruptive, and this is unnecessary. There are better ways to land a plane.
The only candidate not present at the meeting was Jay Garacochea, who was quoted in other media as saying that a lawsuit would be “a waste of money.” To the activists and council candidates putting in their time and effort, they know the payoff may take years. If silence is golden, there must be some value in quiet as well.
To use the online complaint for jet noise, go to www.culvercityforquietskies.org/complain.html
– Judith Martin-Straw