Air Traffic Over Culver City:
“Too Low, Too Loud, Too Many”

Air Traffic Over Culver City:
“Too Low, Too Loud, Too Many”

On a personal note…

There was a before and an after. Before, there were planes flying high above our home. We would see them occasionally, but we never heard them.

Then, a couple of years ago, our family noticed a change. The planes began flying lower and more often. They were also loud, sometimes rattling the windows, often interrupting conversations, and making it hard to fall asleep at night. I began hearing complaints from friends, neighbors, and constituents. When asked, the FAA said, “nothing has changed,” as if our community were collectively hallucinating.

Unsurprisingly, as the noise increased, so did the complaints. Now, residents come to every City Council meeting to speak about air traffic noise. They’re asking us to act.


The response

Although we have no jurisdiction over the air, the City Council has been actively responding to this issue. We appointed representatives to the LAX Community Noise Round Table. My colleague Councilmember Jim Clarke and I held public workshops to hear directly from residents. We collected public input via email, on our website and through our city app. The City hired an attorney specialized in aviation, as well a consultant in aviation noise. We attended meetings with the FAA and LAX, met with neighboring Councilmembers in Los Angeles, and have been communicating regularly with our Congressmember Karen Bass. In addition, my colleague Councilmember Jeff Cooper and I spoke at the national “No Fly Day” Rally, covered in the Los Angeles Times.

According to data provided by Los Angeles World Airports (which operates LAX), low-flying aircraft doubled between 2010-2012 over the Carlson Park neighborhood, and more than doubled between 2010-2013 in the Rancho Higuera neighborhood. Since those dates, the noise and the complaints have increased exponentially, which is why the city continuing and deepening its analysis. (See an interim report here.)



And then there’s NextGen, the FAA’s re-design of flight paths over major metropolitan hubs all over the country. Residents are wondering whether the increased flights, new flight paths and lower altitudes in Culver City are an early (and unofficial) implementation of the paths designed for this program. The City submitted comments on the Draft Environmental Analysis for NextGen, finding substantial causes for concern. One of the most troubling is the fact that the FAA has stated – and continues to maintain – that the new system under NextGen is sustainable: reducing fuel consumption and emissions. However, the FAA’s own Environmental Analysis comes to the opposite conclusion: the new flight protocol over Southern California will actually burn more fuel and create more CO2 emissions – not less.*


Next Steps

Culver City will continue to fight for the quality of life we enjoyed not long ago. As I said during the rally, “Compared to the Federal Aviation Administration, we’re pretty small, but we don’t like to be pushed around.”

Residents are actively organizing: with the successful “No Fly Day” rally, a petition garnering over 1,500 signatures to date, a blog, Facebook page, yard signs, and they’ve been speaking out at City Council and School Board meetings.

I’ll continue to speak out, lobby, organize, and will consider legal action.



* “Under the Proposed Action there would be a slight increase in fuel burn (0.33 percent in 2015 and 0.33 percent in 2020) when compared to the No Action Alternative.”

“The Proposed Action would result in a very slight increase in emissions of CO2e when compared to the No Action Alternative: for 2015, a slight increase of approximately 23 MT of CO2e (0.33 percent); for 2020, a slight increase of approximately 29 MT of CO2e (0.33 percent).”

(SoCal Metroplex Draft Environmental Analysis, Chapter 5, pp. 16 & 22)

Photo credit: Scott Morchower · Culver City For Quiet Skies.

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