Noise News for Week of July 6, 1997

European Countries Agree to Prohibit Hushkitted Chapter 3 Aircraft After April 1999

PUBLICATION: Aviation Daily
DATE: July 8, 1997
SECTION: Europe; Vol. 329, No. 5; Pg. 39

Aviation Daily reports that the European Civil Aviation Conference's 36 member countries (ECAC) agreed last week in Strasbourg to "take all necessary steps" after April 1, 1999 to exclude aircraft from their carriers' fleets that have been hushkitted only to meet the minimum requirements of Chapter 3 noise standards. The decision sends a signal to current and future airlines not to increase their fleet's noise by using hushkitten airplanes, according to ECAC president-elect Andre Auer. The action comes as a result of a January 1996 environmental policy statement issued by ECAC calling for substantially lower noise levels at Europe's airports after Chapter 2 aircraft are phased out in 2002, the article reports.

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Florida Restauraunt Files Lawsuit Challenging City's Noise Ordinance That Targets Music

PUBLICATION: Sarasota Herald-Tribune
DATE: July 11, 1997
SECTION: Local/State, Pg. 1B
BYLINE: Laura Higgins
DATELINE: Sarasota, Florida

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports that owners of the Lemon Coast Grill in downtown Sarasota, Florida filed a lawsuit against the city Thursday, challenging the noise ordinance that limits outdoor music. The lawsuit argues that the ordinance is unconstitutional, and asks for an injunction that would prevent the city from enforcing the ordinance until the case is resolved.

According to the article, the city's noise ordinance was passed by city commissioners in May, and limits noise levels for downtown businesses to 70 decibels, when measured at the edge of the business' property line. By comparison, street traffic registers about 85 decibels, and conversational speech about 60 decibels. Since the ordinance passed, the article notes, Lemon Coast has been received six violations, the most recent on July 5. David Venafro, one of the restaurant's owners, said, "It's hurting our business, and it's unnecessary." Without live music, he said, there is a "lack of interest for people to come to downtown anymore." Lemon Coast is both a restaurant and nightclub, the article reports, that features live outdoor music. The city's noise ordinance was prompted by complaints from downtown residents, particularly residents of the high-rise condominium development Dolphin Towers.

The lawsuit filed by Lemon Coast claims the ordinance is flawed in several ways, the article says. Bob Lyons, an attorney for Lemon Coast, said, "There are many, many problems with this ordinance. The city has reacted to what we think are very few complaints in such a manner as to eradicate a problem that doesn't really exist." The lawsuit alleges that the city did not give proper notice to the public and follow its administrative rules before passing it. The suit also contends that measuring the level of noise at the property line makes it impossible to distinguish whether the decibel level is due to amplified music from a specific business or from other environmental noise the business has no control over, the article says. In addition, the suit argues that the noise ordinance selectively targets downtown businesses. Lyons said that Lemon Coast is more than 1,000 feet from any residential areas, while similar restaurants and nightclubs elsewhere in the city are closer to residential housing but have no such noise restrictions. The article notes that two parts of the ordinance contain different definitions of an acceptable level of noise: one sets the 70-decibel level, and another allows noise that is not "unreasonably loud to the point that it disturbs the sensibilities of a normal person."

In response to the lawsuit, City Commissioner Nora Patterson said if Lemon Coast had been "more cooperative" with the city, by lowering the levels of microphones and putting in sound baffling, there would have been no need for a noise ordinance, the article says. "I think it's a shame we have to end up litigating each other," she said. "It will cost them dollars. It will cost us dollars, and it isn't really productive."

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FAA Proposes to Divert L.A. Flight Paths Over California Indian Reservation and Other Communities

PUBLICATION: The Press-Enterprise
DATE: July 11, 1997
SECTION: Local; Pg. B01
BYLINE: Dave Downey
DATELINE: Morongo Indian Reservation, California
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Mary Ann Andreas, chair, the Morongo Tribal Council; Angelo Schunke, vice chair, Morongo Tribal Planning Commission; Jim Fletcher, Morongo environmental officer; Burt Harsted, resident of the Sun Lakes retirement community in Banning

The Press-Enterprise reports that to accomodate increasing air traffic at Los Angeles International Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration has proposed routing as many as 170 jets per day over the San Gorgonio Pass, which would put the aircraft over the Morongo Indian Reservation, Banning, Beaumont, Moreno Valley, Riverside, and Norco. At a public hearing Thursday at the Morongo Tribal Hall, about 40 residents of Banning and the Morongo Indian Reservation denounced the plans.

The article reports that the FAA's proposal involves splitting the flight path of jets arriving from the east and northeast into Los Angeles. Currently, planes fly over southern San Bernardino County, and those arriving from the northeast would continue to do so. However, under the proposal, jets flying in from the east, out of places like St. Louis and Dallas, would follow a new flight path eight miles to the south, going through the communities listed above. The path would either go diagonally across Joshua Tree National Park or around it. Under the plan, the jets would fly about three miles above the reservation and more than two miles above Riverside. Tom Kamman, manager of air space projects for the FAA, said earlier this week that about 289 jets currently fly daily along the same general route between Morongo and Norco. If the proposal is approved by FAA Western Pacific Region Manager George Williams, it could take effect October 9.

The article says that at Thursday's public hearing, the vast majority of those attending opposed the plan. Mary Ann Andreas, chair for the Morongo Tribal Council, said, "Go away, we don't want you." She said, "Our members simply want to protect what every American wants to protect, the quality of our lives. We are modern. And yet we want to continue to be traditional in many of our customs and practices. When we look up we want to see a clear sky, a red-tailed hawk or an eagle -- not more planes." Angelo Schunke, vice chair of the Morongo Tribal Planning Commission, said even low-level noise would bother tribal members who enjoy praying and meditating in a wilderness-like setting. "We consider our canyons a sanctuary," Schunke said. "Please respect this." Jim Fletcher, a Morongo environmental officer, said that the environmental assessment prepared for the plan estimated that the average level of jet noise would grow from about 6 decibels to 23 decibels, an increase Fletcher characterized as "substantial."

However, the article reports, Bill Johnstone, environmental officer for the FAA's Western Pacific Region, said 23 decibels was not loud. The environmental report notes that a rustle of leaves in the breeze registers about 20 decibels. Johnstone said that even in rural and wilderness areas, the background noise level is about 30 decibels. He added that the added jet noise probably would not even be noticed by residents. Mark Johnson, a consultant for the FAA, said the jets would be louder as they pass directly overhead, but he could not say how much louder.

Burt Harsted, a resident of the Sun Lakes retirement community in Banning, said Thursday that if this change is approved, he fears that more jets would be diverted along the route in the future. FAA officials acknowledged that the future could bring more air traffic but they could not predict how much or how soon, the article reports.

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Fundraiser for Anti-Airport Fight Against California's El Toro Air Station Draws 800

PUBLICATION: The Orange County Register
DATE: July 10, 1997
SECTION: News; Pg. A01
BYLINE: Mary Ann Milbourn
DATELINE: Dana Point, California
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Nancy Goodwin, Janet Mackaig, residents; Bill Kogerman, anti-airport leader

The Orange County Register reports that more than 800 south Orange County (California) residents attended the first major fund-raiser Wednesday in the fight to oppose a commercial airport at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station near Irvine. The fund-raiser, held in the Ritz Carlton-Laguna Niguel ballroom, charged $100 a head and raised more than $104,000 for the cost of a lawsuit to fight the county's environmental impact report on the air base.

According to the article, the fund-raiser was held with a background recording of jet noise. Some residents at the fund-raiser said they had not approved of the airport, but thought there was no way they could fight it. Others, such as Dana Point Janet Mackaig, were willing to go along with an airport until they heard the details. Mackaig said, "None of us knew it was going to be a San Francisco-sized airport operating 24 hours a day." Bill Kogerman, a leader in the fight, yelled above the jet noise recording, "We'll hear the rattle of timbers in Newport Beach and put the county of Orange on alert! We are not going to take any more!"

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New York Town to Draft Noise Ordinance in Response to Resident Complaints

PUBLICATION: The Buffalo News
DATE: July 10, 1997
SECTION: Local, Pg. 4B
BYLINE: Susan Schulman
DATELINE: Clarence, New York

The Buffalo News reports that the Town Board in Clarence, New York has directed its planning office to come up with a draft noise ordinance to address complaints about an unacceptable level of neighbhorhood noise.

The article reports that Supervisor Paul McCarthy said a noise ordinance likely would address acceptable noise levels, measured in decibels, and the time of day when certain noise levels are unacceptable. He added that an ordinance would seek to regulate neighborhood noises such as loud music and loud pool parties. It is difficult to regulate what noises are acceptable, McCarthy said, because some people find noises irritating even if they are not very loud, while some loud noises don't offend everyone. He noted that town staff members will look at existing noise ordinances in other towns and cities for assistance in drawing up the ordinance.

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Planning Commission in California Town Decides Noise Ordinance Isn't Needed

PUBLICATION: The Press-Enterprise
DATE: July 12, 1997
SECTION: Local; Pg. B03
BYLINE: Michael McBride
DATELINE: Norco, California

The Press-Enterprise reports that the Planning Commission in Norco, California has recommended that the city not pursue an anti-noise ordinance after two attempts to draw up an ordinance by the city staff met with problems. City Councillor Chris Sorensen had asked the city staff to draw up a draft ordinance for consideration by the council at the request of a resident who was being harassed by a neighbor playing loud music. The City Council has the final say on the ordinance, and will discuss it at its Aug. 6 meeting.

According to the article, Councillor Sorensen asked the city staff to draw up an ordinance that would control indoor and outdoor noise except for noise generated by animals, birds, and farming operations. But Jim Daniels, the city's Community Development Director, said he "was not a proponent of establishing a noise control ordinance." He said before creating a noise ordinance, it should be determined whether there is excessive noise in Norco, and if so, how much. He said he is not aware of continuing noise complaints. Nonetheless, Daniels wrote a draft ordinance as requested. The first version contained proposed measurable maximum levels of noise, which the Planning Commission voted down. The second draft did not contain proposed decibel levels, but City Attorney John Harper said that "without decibel counts or some means of accurately measuring unacceptable noise, as a practical matter, the ordinance would be unenforceable." The Planning Commission rejected that ordinance also, the article says. Doug Crouse, chair of the commission, said it was decided the city didn't need an ordinance because there have not been many noise complaints.

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Amsterdam Airport Considers Nighttime Ban on Takeoffs by Noisy Jets

DATE: July 7, 1997
SECTION: Company News; Regulatory Actions
DATELINE: Amsterdam, Netherlands

AFX News reports that the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in the Netherlands is considering a ban on takeoffs by the noisiest, wide-body aircraft between the hours of 11:00 pm and 6:00 am starting Aug. 1.

According to the article, airport officials said the ban would primarily affect intercontinental cargo flights. The airport is considering the ban, Schiphol officials said, because it runs the danger of exceeding annual noise-level parameters for night flights before the end of the year. Airport officals have asked the transport ministry to implement a slot-allocation system by Aug. 1 as well, in order to regulate flight movements within prescribed noise level ceilings. A slot-allocation system would allow an independent body to allocate available capacity among all users of the airport. The article concludes that according to press reports, the Dutch airlines Transavia, Martinair, and Air Holland are strongly opposed to the restrictive measures being imposed in the middle of their peak summer season.

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Minneapolis Passes New Noise Ordinance

DATE: July 12, 1997
SECTION: News; Pg. 2B
BYLINE: Kimberly Hayes Taylor
DATELINE: Minneapolis, Minnesota
ACTIVISTS, INDIVIDUALS, AND GROUPS MENTIONED: Steve Minn, City Councillor and co-author of the ordinance

The Star Tribune reports that the Minneapolis (Minnesota) City Council has adopted a new noise ordinance that targets noise from almost any source, with some exemptions such as for aircraft in flight.

According to the article, fines for violating the ordinance are $200 for the first offense, $500 for the second offense, and $700 for the third. The ordinance stipulates that a noise violation occurs if someone makes a noise 10 decibels above the accepted noise level between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., or 5 decibels above the accepted noise level between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. The ordinance was developed in an attempt to address a number of noise problems, the article says, including loud music on lakes and in parks, loud church services, and lawn equipment. Leaf blowers, lawn mowers, and power saws can only be used between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. on any day under the ordinance.

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Orange County, California Residents Continue to Debate Commercial Airport at Military Base

PUBLICATION: Los Angeles Times
DATE: July 6, 1997
SECTION: Metro; Part B; Page 8; Zones Desk
DATELINE: Laguna Hills and Newport Beach, California

The Los Angeles Times printed the following letters-to-the-editor from residents of Laguna Hills and Newport Beach, California, regarding the proposed conversion of the nearby El Toro Marine Corps Air Station to a commercial airport:

To the editor:

How did we ever win the war? What kind of thinking would ever consider conversion of the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station to a commercial airport?

It is neither practical or beneficial for Orange County. It's incomprehensible that a very small rich powerful and greedy group can dictate that a community will have to accept and endure a devastatingly deteriorated lifestyle in order to enhance their political and financial objectives. It simply does not make good sense when viewed for the long term. One needs only to look at neighboring cities, i.e. Los Angeles, North Hollywood, Burbank, to see that as the areas deteriorated because of nearby airports, the property and economic values of the areas were adversely affected accordingly. This resulted in the better and the good economic producing people of the affected areas to look for and move to places like Orange County so they could enjoy a better quality of life than they could in the airport-affected areas.

It's a dreadful shame and absolute waste that the entire Southern California transportation problems are not being addressed in a cooperative regional forum. LAX is in the throes of expansion. Long Beach airport is underutilized. San Diego desperately needs a new airport before they suffer a major and catastrophic disaster.

Let's start using the intelligence we were blessed with and consider practical alternatives for the El Toro conversion. If our only control over the quality of life we will be allowed to enjoy is to be dictated by self-serving business interests, than God help us all.

Samuel Krause, Laguna Hills

To the editor:

To justify his anti-El Toro airport position, one letter writer informs us of some study in Munich that claims children living near a commercial airport have reading, memory and motivational problems attributable to aircraft noise (Letters, June 22). I find it interesting that he would think an unknown Munich study would impress Orange County citizens, because we have a far more credible source much closer to home. Currently there are many children living right under the flight path of John Wayne Airport, and because that airport has little or no noise buffer zone, they get the full effect of aircraft noise. Investigating those children should produce more accurate results because they have similar lifestyles in every other way to those who will be affected by the proposed airport. Maybe the reason the writer chose not to mention them is because a quick check will indicate their test scores are among the highest in our county. That just doesn't fit his purpose, nor others from South County. These letters to the editor are just more examples of anti-airport propaganda, similar to the biased and misleading information one can receive from the El Toro airport site on the Internet.

John Neil, Newport Beach

To the editor:

In two separate countywide general elections, a majority of voters in Orange County voted to convert El Toro Marine Corps Air Station to a commercial airport. It is apparent that some cities in south Orange County do not accept the concept that majority rules and continue to fight against the conversion.

The need to convert El Toro to a commercial airport reflects the ongoing economic and population growth of the south Orange County area. In contrast to this tremendous growth pattern, cities in central and northern Orange County have experienced little growth in the past 25 years.

El Toro is located in south Orange County. If it were not to become a commercial airport, existing John Wayne Airport runways and facilities, surrounded on all four sides by thousands of homes and two freeways, would have to be expanded. In stark contrast to this, existing El Toro runways are surrounded by vacant land, specifically designed to insulate the adjacent communities from the scream of military fighter jets, which often practiced landings and takeoffs during all hours of the day and night.

Millions of dollars have been committed by some south Orange County cities to fight the El Toro conversion. The concerns of these cities should be considered. Rather than fight the conversion, it would make more sense and be more constructive if these cities were to actively participate in all stages of El Toro facility planning and construction as well as airport operational procedures.

Melvin Mann, Newport Beach

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European Commission Backs Recommendations to Improve Aircraft Noise Standards

PUBLICATION: Aircraft Value News
DATE: July 7, 1997
SECTION: No. 14, Vol. 6

Aircraft Value News reports in an editorial that the European Commission is supporting two proposals that would ban or restrict aircraft equipped with Chapter 3 hushkits in an attempt to move along strong aircraft noise standards. The editorial argues that the first proposal, which would allow European authorities to ban aircraft equipped with Chapter 3 hushkits, would significantly hurt values for older, noisier Chapter 2 aircraft. The second proposal would bar operators in European Civil Aviation Conference member countries (ECAC) from adding hushkitted aircraft to their fleets after 1999, and this also would depress values for older aircraft, the editorial says.

The editorial goes on to argue that the proposal to completely ban hushkitted aircraft will make it impossible for operators to use narrow-body aircraft built before 1980. The second proposal, which is less stringent, still would make it extremely difficult for operators to acquire low-cost equipment or to expand fleets while retaining commonality with their existing equipment, the editorial claims. Either proposal would cause Europe to essentially be eliminated as a market for hushkitted Chapter 2 aircraft, leaving the U.S. as the only major market for the planes. The editorial also mentions that either proposal would especially affect cargo operators, because the economics of the air cargo business requires that the industry use older, low-cost equipment. According to the editorial writer, forcing air cargo carriers such as FedEx and UPS to use newer, more expensive aircraft could result in a decision by such companies to use more surface transportation, which will bring greater road congestion. In addition, barring hushkitted aircraft would force airlines to order new equipment and would provide Airbus with greater opportunity for new sales.

The editorial points out that by supporting the proposals, European Commission officials are making it clear that the recent inaction by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is not acceptable. ICAO met in 1995 and opted not to strengthen measures to reduce noise, largely as a result of U.S. pressure, the editorial says. Since that meeting, the European Commission has watched while member states and airports impose restrictions that go beyond current regulations that prohibit Chapter 2 aircraft from operating after 2001. However, in the U.K. and Belgium, such stricter noise controls have been challenged and reversed, and the European Commission as a result has been forced to take a more active role, the editorial claims. The European Commission's move to support the new proposals could persuade U.S. officials to continue talks about aircraft noise issues through ICAO to avoid differences in regulations, the editorial says.

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