It is important to know that operations from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. are the most disruptive. The FAA recognizes this impact by adding a penalty to the measured noise levels for each aircraft, which is effectively multiplying the number of operations in this period by a factor of 10. The 36 operations effectively become 360 operations with the penalty. If you feel like you cannot ignore operations during these times, there is a good reason.
Airport Authority reports show that the number of operations has increased by 18 percent since 2011 to more than 600 operations per day in 2018. Does this alone explain why noise complaints from residents of Mission Beach have increased from just five per month about a year ago, to more than 9,000 in the last 30 days?
It is certainly part of the answer, but there was another important change about two years ago. It was then that the FAA implemented its NexGen satellite navigation system, PADRZ departure.
PADRZ has had two profound impacts on air traffic over Mission Beach.
It has moved the location where it crosses over Mission Beach farther north, but more importantly, it has changed the nature of the departures from a “fan out” over the beach community, with some crossing as far north as Belmont Park, to a narrow corridor over South Mission Beach. This combination of frequency increase and concentration of noise has become a nightly nightmare, for both residents and visitors alike.
Unhappiness with the FAA NexGen satellite navigation tracks in Point Loma, La Jolla, Pacific Beach, and Ocean Beach precipitated a series of studies, the first to identify ways to mitigate the negative impacts of the FAA NexGen, which culminated in 21 recommendations, followed by ongoing consultant studies to evaluate which of the recommendations are feasible and produce a noise decrease. But, two of the recommendations, which have raised concerns for Mission Beach residents, specifically pertain to nighttime departures.
These recommendations appear to residents to abrogate the long-standing nighttime noise abatement agreement, which moves most departures post 10 p.m. from Ocean Beach to a dispersed corridor south of the Mission Beach peninsula. Instead, the Airport Authority would move all 15 to 20 departures over South Mission Beach (keep in mind the factor of 10 penalty). If this is allowed to happen, you can anticipate the number of noise complaints increasing another ten-fold.
You have other options for your voice to be heard. You can attend the Airport Noise Advisory Committee (ANAC) quarterly meetings and speak under public comments. Or you can voice your concerns to the Mission Beach representative to ANAC, Debbie Watkins, who is the chair of the Mission Beach Precise Planning Board, which holds monthly meetings.
Gary Wonacott is a Mission Beach resident.