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County takes on San Carlos Airport noise: More flights lead to more complaints, board to explore solutions to problem
March 04, 2016, 05:00 AM By Bill Silverfarb Daily

Daily Journal file photo
The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors will hold a study session Tuesday to discuss both voluntary and possibly mandatory solutions for noise at the San Carlos Airport.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors is tackling the increased noise associated with the San Carlos Airport as more flights have led to more complaints.

The county owns the airport, which has seen a 13 percent increase in the total number of flights since 2012 from 117,322 to 132,497 in 2015, according to a report by county Public Works Director Jim Porter.

The board will hold a study session Tuesday to discuss both voluntary and possibly mandatory solutions to the problem.

A great number of flights into the airport rely on a narrow route that brings charter and other flights directly over homes in East Palo Alto, Atherton, North Fair Oaks and Redwood City.

The county formed an Airport Noise Working Group in 2013 headed by supervisors Don Horsley and Warren Slocum that met nine times over two years. It developed a series of noise reduction procedures including a voluntary curfew on some flights during certain night and early morning hours, higher altitude approaches and the implementation of an automated noise complaint reporting system.

The county, however, cannot require compliance and can do little or nothing to force operations to comply with the measures, according to Porter’s report.

At Tuesday’s study session, the board will consider mandatory measures such as time of day restrictions, a nighttime curfew, implementing a reservation/slot system for arrivals, implementing the number of flights by carrier and restrictions on helicopters.

New voluntary proposals include increasing hours of voluntary curfew, requesting higher altitude approaches and researching other airports’ best practices.

In Atherton, residents have complained for years about increased noise from Surf Air flights coming into the airport.

In just a few years, the members-only airline has increased its number of flights from three to 30 a day.

But the Federal Aviation Administration sets the routes, flight paths and altitude planes must fly at when approaching the San Carlos Airport.

The airport has about 363 takeoffs and landings a day, according to Porter’s report.

On Sept. 11, a letter from the Atherton City Council to the City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County blasted local officials for not addressing the noise from Surf Air.

“The town has ... petitioned, pleaded and implored the Federal Aviation Administration, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, San Carlos Airport Operations and aviation carriers themselves (Surf Air) to address a devastating disconnect between the San Carlos Airport Operations and the health, safety and welfare of the impacted communities,” the letter states.

C/CAG released a draft Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan in September for the airport for public comment. The plan may affect the airport’s operations.

The letter from Atherton continues: “These pleas have been largely ignored as the overflights by Surf Air have not only become noisier but have increased in frequency. By failing to address these growing concerns, the Airport Land Use Commission, the county, San Carlos Airport Operations and the FAA have been derelict in their duty of protecting that health, safety and welfare instead placing the expansion desires of commercial aviation ahead of the protection of its communities. This is unacceptable and must be remedied.”

The Board of Supervisors study session is 9 a.m., Tuesday, March 8, 400 County Center, Redwood City.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 102



Tags: airport, county, flights, noise, operations, board,

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