San Fernando Valley Residents Vent Over Helicopter Noise

A public hearing, led by Rep. Howard Berman, gave frustrated residents the opportunity to testify in front of the FAA on the rowdy, non-emergency helicopters hovering above their homes.

More than 100 San Fernando Valley residents annoyed by noisy non-emergency helicopters packed into a middle school Monday night to vent their anger in a public hearing by U.S. Rep. Howard Berman.

Berman – in a tight re-election campaign against Brad Sherman – held the hearing at Millikan Middle School, Burrill Hall located at 5041 Sunnyslope Avenue in Sherman Oaks off Magnolia Boulevard.

A Torrance resident said he counted 50 helicopter flyovers in one day. Another woman called for binding rules on the amount and times of helicopter flights.

You must require "flight records or logs that record routes helicopters take at certain times of the day, for whatever reason, so you can be aware of these flight patters and hold these pilots accountable," she told the board.

Representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration were on hand at the hearing. 

“Our role is to listen to community concerns and answer questions about FAA regulations and procedures,” an FAA spokesman said in an email.

Richard Close, president of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association, said he is looking forward to the chance to convey the anger in community over the noise.

“We want to impress the FAA concerning how widespread the helicopter problem is and how many people are affected,” he said.

Non-emergency helicopters in the service of media, tour operators, and paparazzi frequently buzz above resident’s homes.

Eager paparazzi “hover over these neighborhoods waiting for the perfect shot,” Close said.

State and local lawmakers have limited authority over air traffic, which is controlled at the federal level.

On Monday, the California State Legislature approved a resolution urging Congress to support a measure that would require the FAA to regulate helicopter flight paths and altitudes.

The measure would force the FAA to limit helicopter flight routes and set minimum heights within 12 months.

Officials at the Monday night meeting told the board they didn't have to wait for new legislation to enact the constrains residents called for.

In July, Berman and other Los Angeles-area members of Congress asked the FAA to formally solicit views from locals on the noise problem in Los Angeles County.

“We strongly feel that FAA’s leadership must lead to meaningful action to reduce helicopter noise,” the request stated.

Helicopters must adhere to minimum safety altitudes, according to federal regulations. Over any congested population -- including a settlement, or town, or over any open forum of persons -- a helicopter must maintain an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle.

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