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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Will the Eastside get a chance to sound off on helicopter noise?

Photo by David Bailey/Flickr

The skies above the Eastside are frequently filled with the drone and buzzing of helicopters. LAPD choppers hover for hours during evening searches. Media helicopters awaken residents as news crews try to capture images for early morning news casts. Conversations on the street stop as helicopters land atop a rooftop heliport in Echo Park. In response to complaints, a public hearing organized by Congressman Howard Berman will be held tonight to allow residents from across Los Angeles County t0 tell the Federal Aviation Agency how helicopter noise is affecting their neighborhoods. But that public hearing is  being held in Sherman Oaks, and no other meetings are planned, according to an official with Berman’s office.

“This is basically the sole forum for community input,” said an official with Berman’s office of tonight’s meeting in the Valley.

Berman introduced legislation last year to force the FAA to restrict  flight paths and establish minimum altitudes to  shield residential neighborhoods from low-flying helicopters (the legislation does not apply to police or other emergency aircraft). Earlier this year, Berman and several other Los Angeles congressional representatives asked the FAA to work with residents to help reduce helicopter noise across the county. That’s how tonight’s meeting came about.

“We are going to listen …  and work with the communities and helicopter operators to try and address the concerns without compromising safety,” said FAA spokesman Ian Gregor.

While Berman’s office has said no further public hearings will be held, Rep. Adam Schiff, whose district includes a slice of Loz Feliz and is one of the sponsors of Berman’s Los Angeles Helicopter Noise Relief Act, is looking at holding another meeting in his district and closer to Eastside residents “to address the very real concerns raised by residents,” according the congressman’s office.

Tonight’s public hearing is scheduled to take place from 6:30 p.m to 8:30 p.m. at Burrill Hall at Millikan Middle School,  5041 Sunnyslope Ave. in Sherman Oaks.

9 comments

  1. This is just window dressing for the neighborhood. There is no chance of this resulting in fewer helicopters overhead — and sorry, but it is naive to think so. For one, they will not ever tell the police they can’t fly as they choose — and they even have specifically exempted them in the legislation. Well, the police are the low-flying ones that make the most noise! Neither will they do that to the monied executives who they depend on for all their political greasing. The news helicopters — well, they fly higher in the first place, so are quieter accordingly, but they will shout First Amendment, and that will be the end of regulating them away from certain areas.

    This hearing is just a waste of time designed solely to make voters think something is being done.

    What might actually do something down the line about the police helicopters is the tiny drones coming online that could be used instead of police helicopters — small and quiet. But that will happen of its own accord, not because of anything from this hearing. This hearing is just wasting the time of the public.

  2. Would be strange without the “Ghetto Bird” buzzing overhead. Like it was during the 911 Air Space restrictions.

  3. The news helicopters already have a 500′ floor. Also, Mark is right that the noisiest helicopters are the police and you really don’t want fewer of those unless it’s because there is less crime.

    I used to live in DTLA and it’s a so nice and quiet here in Elysian Valley compared to the noise of film helicopters in DTLA.

  4. This is being pushed buy the citizens located around Van Nuys airport. With the Burbank airport east/west glide path above Van Nuys airport the copters stay low and travel any direction.

  5. Helicopters are a serious detriment to the quality of life here in Echo Park. And it’s a myth that the police need to use them so pervasively in order to prevent crime. I’ve lived in cities that were just as safe without the residents having to be subjected to such intrusiveness by law enforcement.

    As I write this at midnight, there’s a police helicopter circling around. I know, they really are useful in some situations. But not several overflights a day. Not another suspect search every week or so. This is abuse.

    • I agree that police really don’t need to make so much use of the helicopters. My feeling is that they are drastically not cost effective. They cost a fortune to fly up there. That money instead could put a ton of additional police on the street.

      The helicopters might be helpful in some pursuits, but in my mind, that just doesn’t justify the huge cost of them. And the helicopter can’t even catch anyone, can only try to see them. Hey, more police on the streets could be helpful in pursuits too, and just radio ahead and alert them the guy is heading their way. And they can actually catch people. And do a lot of other stuff too.

      I’ve been saying that for decades. But people around here LOVE the police helicopters, even as they complain that they hear them. And the police LOVE their toys, no matter the cost. They will continue to fly — because the people who don’t like them are demanding that they fly.

  6. I was at the Hollywood Bowl last Thurs when a very low flying helicopter drowned out a beautiful violin concerto by flying directly over the bowl. (I have no idea whose helicopter it was.) I always try to be positive and assume that any LAPD copter use is necessary for locating suspects or other tactical surveillance. Last night, around midnight, an LAPD helicopter with spotlights was flying over a hill east of me (I’m in Silver Lake). I could hear the police on loudspeakers so it sounded like they were after someone specific. Personally, as annoying as they can be sometimes, I’m glad they’re there. It’s part of urban life these days.

  7. echo park neighbor

    On Christmas Eve last year, there were helicopters flying incredibly low over Echo Park from 11pm to 2am or later. I remember because I thought well, I guess parents will have to tell their kids that Santa is arriving in a helicopter this year. Seriously, it was almost terrifying. Their lights were blinding, and they were using loudspeakers to give orders to whoever it is they were chasing. It was the absolute worst helicopter noise I’ve ever heard, and Echo Park gets it weekly.

    I guess it’s good that Howard Berman is organizing this public hearing, but my guess is that people from neighborhoods most severely affected in Los Angeles won’t be able to get over to Sherman Oaks for it.

    If Berman were seriously interested in providing a true forum for this issue in Los Angeles, there would have to be multiple forums in multiple neighborhoods. As far as I am concerned, Berman is providing this service solely for the residents of his Valley consituency, and their discussion will have little or nothing to do with the issue of helicopter noise in neighborhoods in and around Echo Park.

  8. With all this enforcement the noise and crime never stops. LAPD needs a new platform to reducing both by any means necessary.

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