Choppers over Sunset Junction rattle Silver Lake residents

LAPD police helicopter over Echo Park.In the four years that Marya Kendall has lived in Silver Lake, she cannot recall a time hearing as many helicopters hovering over her Sunset Junction home as she has in recent months. On Monday night, for example, another resident reported that a police helicopter swooped in over the same area where Sunset and Santa Monica boulevards meet. Said Kendell via email:

We live at Sunset Junction, and I swear there has been a rash of helicopters in the area over the past few months … usually around 5 – 7 pm, but in the past few weeks up to 10 pm. It’s getting rather intense. Especially as we have a 7 month old.

But an LAPD officer reports there has been no unusual or heightened criminal activity that could explain an increase in helicopter activity – at least police helicopters.

Senior Lead Officer Al Polenoki said it can sometimes be difficult to find out what prompted a police helicopter to hover or fly over a specific location, especially if it is a routine police radio call that does not result in any police action. In addition, there are private helicopters, including those traveling to and from nearby Childrens’ Hospital,  that regularly fly over the area. Said Polehonki:

In some cases, air units use Sunset as a reference as they travel across the division and could be from other agency`s or privately owned. If they come in and circle, their is a good chance that its one of ours. They could be responding to higher priority radio calls, officers conducting vehicle followings or traffic stops, or checking into some type of suspicious activity that they have observed.

After reviewing two months worth of crimes in the area, the only incidents that stood out were a  burglary investigation at King Middle School on April 16 and  a robbery arrest Tuesday night at Sunset and Vermont Avenue, Polehonki said.


  1. I too am a SJ resident and have been for 15 years. The helicopters can be bothersome but remember they are not just flying around to fly around. Most of the ones we get over SJ are the bigger, military type helicopters are usually going to Children’s Hospital. When you think about that, the little bother is so small considering the kid being air lifted after an accident or another kid getting a new kidney.

  2. you should move if the helicopters disturb you plenty of room in ohio.

    • Jeezy H Christy-Christ

      All in all, there has been a hell of a lot more helicopters flying around from Elysian Park thru Silverlake. Could have been some flight patterns got changed or something, but i agree with mr.shadowpark. If its too loud then the midwest is always there for you.

  3. Up until a month ago, I lived just south of Sunset Junction. The helicopters coming into and out of the Children’s Hospital are far louder and more frequent than police helicopters most of the time, and the police helicopters rarely hover.

    If Marya Kendall is hearing an increase in helicopter activity, that doesn’t mean there’s actually an increase. Maybe she’s just noticing it more now that she’s got a baby.

    Were there other reports of increased helicopter activity or just the one email? If I emailed and said that cars have been speeding up and down my street a lot more over the last few weeks (they’re not) and wondering where the police response was, would that make it into a story?

  4. You live in a metropolitan city. Get used to it. I wonder who cries louder, the parents or the babies?

  5. Hell of a Copter

    I’ve seen these helicopter-hatin’ stories before and I’m always a little baffled by them. Even if police helicopters were more prevalent, wouldn’t residents actually be happy that (assuming they were more prevalent because crime was more prevalent) the police were on top of things (so to speak)? Living in an urban area, you have to deal with crime – I prefer the sound of helicopters to the sound of gunshots, certainly. Always tempting to tell people who complain of urban problems to head for the ‘burbs and outside of helicopter habitats… it’s certainly my first thought, and was my first thought when I read this post.

    But, I agree with BrianM – that this woman has a new baby – and probably just never noticed the noise until now, when every faint sound makes you grit your teeth that the baby will wake up… or a man wearing prison stripes with a ball chained to his leg will come crashing through the patio door like the Kool Aid Guy.

  6. Slow news day?

  7. Oh, there was absolutely SOMETHING going on. I live right at the junction and there were a TON of cop cars rolling up and down Hyperion, Sanborn, Lucile and back/forth on Sunset. After things calmed, it seemed, there were still black/whites posted on the corners of those streets for about an hour after that.
    I sometimes think that the crime reports arent always totally truthful…there was SOMETHING going on.

  8. I live a block and a half from the junction. I’m not saying Marya is wrong about more helicopters, but I will say I haven’t noticed any more, and if anything, now that you mention it, maybe I’ve noticed fewer.

    But my first reaction in reading the story is what Jezzy suggested: they changed their patterns. The police generally are just up there patrolling. Some times they have something to go to, sometime they don’t. Its been VERY obvious to me for 30 years that they do certain patrol patterns when they are not running off to some incident. When you hear this report about how specific the times are every day for the very same pattern, it certainly sounds like that is all it is, they are doing they routine pattern.

    They used to do a pattern nearly every night outside my living room window. But they haven’t been out there for some time now — maybe they decided to move their nightly pattern over Marya instead, maybe for no better a reason than there is a new pilot for the helicopter in this area and he had chosen his own spots.

    But if it is not all a pattern, yes, there are various other helicopters up there, plenty of news helicopters, plenty of private ones generally for executive types. But Doreet, all those flights into Children’s hospital are not for patients. Any number of them are just the executives and others flying around — it sure beats the traffic on the streets and they don’t care about the cost.

  9. Don’t worry they will be quiet little drones in 2 years time.

  10. How could or Not be police chopper? They circle over glendale/silverlake blvd for up to an hour! I know, I live near there!

  11. You city-dwelling helicopter lovers are badasses! Getting your hardcore street-cred here in the comment thread! You won’t be moving to the midwest. No, you’ll be right here on the internet keeping it old school.
    Love you guys. See you in the next post where you’ll be hating on hipsters, or someone calling for a new crosswalk. I come for the local info, but I stay for the hilarity that is guaranteed to follow.

    • I like this.

    • You are the best.

      You know, I used to live in Angelino Heights and the constant helicopters were just awful. We dealt with it for years. They came by probably about every 15 minutes, or at the most, every half hour. We were under some kind of helicopter freeway.

      They were loud enough that you would have to pause movies until they went far away.

      I remember I would go out to the desert and sit there in the silence. I would actually notice that I hadn’t heard a helicopter in hours.

      My cousin visited from a small town in South America and she was totally spooked by the helicopters.

      I now live in a place in LA that rarely has helicopters flying overhead. I am very aware of the absence of helicopters.

  12. “the only incidents that stood out were….” Did you guys miss the shooting at Westmoreland and Fountain Avenues on April 23rd. I think you did.

    • I was just thinking that! The intersection was blocked for a couple hours, and the choppers were circling the entire time!

      I will say that, living between Sunset Junction and the Children’s hospital, I do feel that there has been an increase lately, but I can’t say if it’s anything other than ordinary fluctuation in hospital traffic. No babies here, but my entire house shakes during every take-off and landing so I definitely notice. And just to be clear, I’m not complaining. This comes with the territory of living near one of the premiere children’s hospitals in the country.

  13. This always cracks me up – I grew up in Venice in the 80’s and now when there are helicopters in my hood (Sunset Junction) I rarely ever notice them unless they are really flying low. Sounds of the city.

  14. I would think helicopters would be active in that area. 3 Blocks west off of santa monica is westmoreland street (ave., rd., who knows/cares about the suffix). Westmoreland gang.

  15. oh myrna!! Waaaaaaaa!!! don’t move to the fixed up hood if you don’t want it…. 10 years ago the ghetto bird was over head ALL the time! Really… these people think they can move to HIP ole silver lake and since they are there… the things that have always happened are now going to be done! BROTHER!!! All these people will soon feel the swath of old moving back in…. and as your properties plunge and the next hood is the hip one.. you will be stuck there. Too bad, again, silver lake was such a great place before ya’all moved in!!!

  16. Police helicopters don’t hover, news helicopters do.

    • Not so. Police helicopters will circle in patterns when they aren’t doing something else like responding to an incident. Its a routine. They also do it in an aggressive circling style, unlike the news helicopters, which will just sit there in place.

  17. Q and Billy were the funniest.

  18. IMO, most of the above ad hominem comments sound like from people who aren’t at home at night, oblivious to their surroundings, don’t plan to stay in Silver Lake longer than a year or two, or shilling from the LAPD or LA Sheriff Aerial Support Divisions. Of course there’s an increase in helicopter traffic, of course it’s annoying and generally unnecessary, (with the possible exception of CHLA). And there is not a thing that can be done about it without a critical mass of the voting public persistently complaining about the impact on quality of life and advocating for changes to flying policy over LA neighborhoods – including changes to aerial law enforcement policies. Ask anyone who lives adjacent to Bellevue Park, (Maltman, Marathon, Lucile) about low flying LAPD commuter traffic from downtown to Hollywood and Valley Divisions – that’s really what it is, and accounts for most of the helicopter noise in Silver Lake, south of Sunset. Often 15-20 flyovers on Fri/Sat, about 9 average during weeknights.

    Local reporters/press have little incentive to report on the impact and costs/benefits of law enforcement helicopter traffic, but the good ‘el NYT ran a story last year:

  19. Okay, maybe this is very suburban of me, but Silver Lake is not exactly “the hood,” and I don’t see why this woman shouldn’t be upset about constant helicopter noise. I know it happens, but why does that mean we should always accept it? Helicopter noise is loud and invasive and really hard to live with. It’s one thing if it’s actually a police helicopter doing something important, but most of the time, it’s not — instead, it’s someone idling over an area, or news helicopters, or something else. And it is frustrating that there is no one who monitors this at all – most of the time, the police have no idea who it is.

  20. Q is right.


  21. “We live at Sunset Junction, and I swear there has been a rash of helicopters in the area over the past few months … usually around 5 – 7 pm, but in the past few weeks up to 10 pm. It’s getting rather intense. Especially as we have a 7 month old.” This lady is real bitch. Such a sense of entitlement as if because you live in some hip zip code you shouldn’t have to be bothered by police activity. overzealous police activity outside your window, oh no!!! not in the 9 double o 2 6 !!!!

  22. J Cardenas is right. Police Heli’s circle, they don’t ‘hover’, news heli’s hover.

    Hover: When the heli is stationary in 1 spot.

    So if they were really ‘hovering’, they were probably news heli’s.

  23. I have lived in Silver Lake most of my life and there has been a significant and intolerable increase in police helicopter activity. Calling the LAPD is pointless, they love their expensive toys and will lie and deny.

    LAPD has by far and away the largest fleet of helicopters (17 the last time I checked) of any municipality in the country and there is not one shred of evidence that it reduces crime. It’s horribly expensive to buy, staff, and maintain them. The money would be better spent on beat cops – “boots on the ground” is a known, effective crime deterrent. Helicopters are an unnecessary waste of money.

    I have heard (but don’t know) that a lot of the increase is due to LoJack – the helicopters are used to track stolen cars.

    • The noise is intolerable until you are the one calling for help as someone is breaking into your home. This is what happened to me recently and the LAPD helo was there within a couple minutes shinning that giant spotlight!

      Magically changes your attitude when it happens to you…

    • Maybe it’s time for you to move.

      • Not at all. I want to stay now that I know the helos are there for me! I feel safe! But thanks for your ignorant douchbaggery.

  24. Yes, there are way too many helicopters here. Many times it’s a circling LAPD copter. One time years back, I called LAPD Air Support to ask about one that was really flying low and intrusively. The officer answering claimed that they didn’t have one in the area. Then I gave him the tail number that I had gleaned with the aid of my camera’s modest zoom lens. “Oh yes, we do have that one over Echo Park…”

    There also seems to be some sort of flight path that runs over Echo Park just over the area where my home happens to be located. So in addition to the circling LAPD copters, there are many — both LAPD and private — that fly over the same route traveling to other parts of the city, including occasionally some loud-thumping military-type helicopters, sometimes flying in formation (perhaps part of those yearly LAPD-military exercises that seem to elicit almost no journalistic curiosity and investigation).

    I’d like the LAPD to present some statistics on how often their helicopters are being deployed in our neighborhood, for what types of incidents, and how often those deployments aided in achieving the desired results. Also, what is the hourly cost of operating an LAPD helicopter?

    And perhaps there can be more variety in flight paths for all types of helicopters so that the quality of life isn’t impacted so severely and regularly for the same houses in the same neighborhoods?

    (Drones, by the way, are indeed coming soon to a neighborhood near you unless we have a serious discussion about them. They might be quieter than helicopters, but they would most likely be more intrusive and pervasive.)

  25. Same people complaining about helicopter noise are probably the same people that sit glued to their television sets when there is a high speed chase some where in the City that is being covered by all the local stations with each stations helicopter carrying their own live feed.

  26. Samarkand, I was told by LAPD that every two hours they rotate helicopters from Downtown (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LAPD_Hooper_Heliport) to the Valley, I have no idea why. Clearly there IS a flight path and we’re in it.

  27. welcome to my hood of Silver lake homie !! dont get caught slippin..

  28. I agree about the increase of helicopter police activity… I have lived at the Palazzo West for three years now and yes, within just the last year Ive noticed a dramatic increase in these helicopters doing some kind of flight pattern I think and sometimes with spotlight on & other times no spotlight. I too am mostly baffled as to why this isn’t a topic that ever seems newsworthy.

    It’s as if we’re suppose to just act as if nothing’s wrong & this is okay?!!! It’s very startling, sometimes scary and I’d love for them to just go away. It really does seem like they just want to instill a sense of fear in West Hollywood/Mid City citizens. They’re doing a good job of that but I don’t think it’s worth what they spend. Why aren’t any journalists covering this too? It’s so strange to me.

  29. it’s not only silver lake and west hollywood and the other countless of places in the vicinity. it seems like the recent increase in helicopter activity has been occurring everywhere. a simple twitter search will show where abouts people are tweeting from regarding the choppers. i agree that it is startlingly and sometimes scary, but most of all.. it is extremely bothersome. i cannot recall a day in the past weeks that there has not been such intense activity in the sky. it’s not time to bring out the tinfoil hat, but time to find out what the heck is going on!

  30. To those who are mocking us for being annoyed by the air traffic, consider this: I moved from Astoria (Queens) NY, where I lived about 5 blocks from Riker’s Island. With that said, I heard helicopters maybe – MAYBE – twice a day. (I of course heard regular planes constantly because I also lived 20 blocks from LGA, but that’s another topic.) When I moved here to the Palms neighborhood, I only dealt with circling copters on 3 occasions, and the cops were legitimately looking for people those 3 times. Then this past November I moved to West Hollywood, and dear god, I was not prepared for this. Just by living here, I hear copters and planes go by literally every 2-20 minutes every day, and like someone else mentioned, it’s at the point where I actually notice if I haven’t heard one in what seems like an extended point of time. Not to mention that I’ve been sick with the flu all weekend, and literally got woken up both yesterday and today by planes circling around with some stupid advertisement banner. I wish I could explain how unbearable it is trying to get some sleep due to illness and not being able to because of some disgusting drone and doppler effect going on for literally HOURS. This is invasive, and it’s at the point where it’s affecting my mental health because I can’t sleep well, and I’m seconds from terminating my lease.
    My mom said that she’s starting to hear more planes in our (formally) peaceful Long Island town. How disgusting it is that this trend is starting to spread. May I ask why the copters are flying around if there are no incidences? How much is it costing us taxpayers to keep these 19(?!) copters afloat? And if it’s so necessary that they fly around at all times, can someone explain why they don’t fly around as frequently during Christmas or other major holidays? Are there less crimes during those holidays??

  31. I came across this thread because I was awaken at 2am by a helicopter so I googled “loud helicopters in Silverlake” and came across this thread. I waited patiently for it to pass but it hovered in the same area, often getting so close that I got scared, for an hour. This has been happening at least once a week at all times of the night. My boyfriend actually works in the air medic department at Children’s Hospital and he confirmed that it was not their helicopter.

    What is going on? We will most likely never know.

    • @hyperion –

      the helicopter last night was police activity. I live on Lucile near bellevue park, and the helicopter also woke me up. a moment later there were three squad cars on lucile, searching for somebody on foot.

  32. Today I read about a group of residents in Sherman Oaks that are complaining about copters over the Hollywood Bowl and other residential areas further west…in court. I’d love to be a part of a group like this for residents here near Echo Park. They’ve been discussing this issue with a representative from the FAA named William C. Withycombe. I’ve been a resident for 10 years and although I still haven’t put a sign on my roof asking the LAPD if they’d like water, snacks or a potty break, I still think about it (I may as well have a nice man in uniform come visit if I have to endure this.) There’s actually a copter hovering right now and has been since I started reading and then typing on this thread. The sound is buzzing through my earplugs. Anyhow, my concern isn’t so much for the LAPD birds, as annoying as they are, as it is for those Chinooks that travel in packs. WHAT THE HECK IS THAT ALL ABOUT??? They’re often traveling in a similar path in both directions & given their sheer size, number and amount of noise they make, I highly doubt they’re transporting an ill child to the hospital. This chinook activity began about 3 years ago. But altogether, with the varied types of copters from traffic to police to the military to events and film crews, I sometimes feel like I live in a war zone. My gangster neighbors (I grew up in a hood, I’m no stranger to the ridiculousness that comes with this type of area) and the tagging are only somewhat annoying, but those copters rival any irritation I could have from a bumping car , Saturday morning corner rallies, or waking up to some idiot’s midnight ego-spray fest defacing property. We residents of the Eastside already have TONS of exhaust and pollutants to live with without the presence of fume dumping copters additionally hovering over our heads creating multiple types of pollution – visual, aural and respiratory. They significantly lower the quality of life for an area where people pay good money to live ($500K for one of those brand new condos across from Chango? To experience this crud?) Unfortunately, I can’t just pick up and move to another state because this is the only place I can find decent work in my field in our country. Believe me, I’d love to trade seasons and forests for the smog and traffic & I’d do it in a heartbeat if there were work elsewhere. But its not an option. The option is saying ‘no’ to this unacceptable behavior allowed by the state in residential areas. And gathering to voice our opinions in a public forum that is not limited to online typing, ogling and monitoring – what’s that going to do except corral the complainers? Thanks for reading, fellow whiners.

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