Noise has been a real sore spot for coastal residents from the Point to La Jolla, who allege flight-path changes the past couple years have negatively impacted their lifestyles.
Recently, District 2 Councilmember Lorie Zapf spoke before the Airport Authority on the merits of the Part 150 study.
“As your council member, I have advocated for reduction in airport noise in our communities,” Zapf said. “As part of my support for the Part 150 study, I have requested the FAA be a proactive partner to improve the quality of life in surrounding communities.”
Part 150, a federal aviation regulation, guides and controls planning for aviation noise compatibility on and around airports. The federal regulation establishes procedures, standards and methodologies to be used by airport operators for preparation of Airport Noise Exposure Maps.
Such exposure maps are used in the Quieter Home Program, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority’s Residential Sound Insulation Program. The FAA has determined that residences within the 65-plus decibel-level limit around SDIA may be eligible for sound-insulation treatments to mitigate aircraft noise. The FAA has set a goal of reducing interior-noise levels for eligible residents by at least five decibels inside the home, providing a noticeable noise reduction.
But not everyone is certain the Part 150 study will be a cure-all for decreasing airport noise in communities directly impacted from alleged flight-path changes.
One skeptic is Gary Wonacott, Mission Beach Town Council president.
“Clearly, the FAA modifications benefitted some areas of Mission Beach, mainly the north, and negatively impacted South Mission Beach,” Wonacott said. “According to responses from residents in PB and La Jolla, they were also negatively impacted by some of the flight path changes.
“The key point here is that Part 150 cannot be used to assess the benefits of the procedural changes proposed for Mission Beach and La Jolla, because these communities are not in the 65-decibel area. As you know, currently, the majority of our noise complaints come outside our 65-decibel contour,” Wonacott said.
Wonacott admitted, however, the FAA is showing a willingness to compromise. “The FAA has demonstrated that they are willing to look at procedural changes that reduce noise outside the 65 decibel limit,” he said.
Point Loman Casey Schnoor has been a watchdog for the NextGen and airport noise situation for more than two years. A citizen’s representative on a 15-member airport subcommittee, Schnoor and his colleagues came up with 21 recommendations for “quieting” airport noise in coastal communities in the airport’s flight path, following a year of deliberations.
Schnoor talked about the goal of those 21 recommendations.
“The goal is to mitigate the impacts to the communities of any of those flight paths, or adjacent to those flight paths,” he said.
Is the Part 150 a step in the right direction? “I am cautiously optimistic,” Schnoor replied. “Part 150 is a process. It appears to be the best vehicle to execute all those [recommended] changes.”
Schnoor noted Part 150 is an 18- to 24-month process.
“We don’t want to sit on our hands for two years, when a lot of these things are problems today,” Schnoor said, adding, it’s also important to continue monitoring “day-to-day issues and procedures” with airport operations. That needs to be done, he said, to hold the federal agency accountable for its operations, and to ensure the Airport Authority remains responsive to citizens’ concerns and complaints about aircraft noise.
Schnoor said the airport points to noise issues remaining relatively stable the past couple years. But he’s quick to caution: “You need to look at the multi-year picture, year over year. At a quick glance (at recent data), nothing has changed. But if you go back to 2014 and see the data on missed approaches, early turns, curfew violations, etc. you’ll see where the current figures have come down from.”