Millbrae isn’t going to the birds, in fact it’s hoping to keep people from feeding the flying creatures to help San Francisco International Airport cut down on bird strikes.
Tonight, the City Council will consider approving a ban on feeding birds that aren’t owned by the person offering the food. The change to the municipal code comes at the request of San Francisco International Airport officials who noted a problem with birds being fed at the Millbrae BART station. For BART police to regulate the problem, the city needs to first approve the new rule. By reducing the number of birds in the area, SFO officials are hoping to have fewer bird strikes to aircrafts.
“If they’re trying to make things safer, we want to support them,” said Lt. Ed Barberini, chief of police services for the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Millbrae Bureau.
Simply put, Millbrae’s rule change would prohibit people from feeding birds other than those they own. Those who disobey the rule would face the standard code violation fee of $100 for the first incident. But Barberini said the plan isn’t to go out strictly enforcing the rule. Instead, putting the new rule in place will allow for signs to be put up in problem areas. It will also give BART police the ability to stop people from feeding birds.
BART Communications Officer Luna Salaver confirmed there is no rule in place currently to prohibit feeding birds at any station. But, BART police can enforce a rule if passed by the local officials, she said.
Doug Yakel, public information officer for SFO, said that working to reduce the tendency of birds to congregate around the airport has been a focus for officials for some time. At the airport, for example, trash is kept at a minimum and food isn’t allowed in certain areas.
SFO recorded a total of 102 bird strikes last year, said Yakel. Most do not cause damage. However, nine caused damage resulting in either a flight delay and/or a change of aircraft, he said. This year, 18 total bird strikes have occurred with three causing either a flight delay and/or change of aircraft.
In September, SFO officials noticed a pigeon feeding problem at the Millbrae BART station. After eating at the train station, many of the birds fly over the airport airspace, increasing the chances of a run-in with a plane.
The council meets 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 11 at City Hall, 621 Magnolia Ave., Millbrae.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105