FAA offer no relief (18 May 2016 Sky Posse Letter)

Letter sent to our members:   May 18, 2016

Dear Friends,

The FAA released yesterday their long awaited Updated Initiatives Document, an analysis of the changes they think are “feasible” for noise relief. To the best of our understanding, the report offers nothing that will help Palo Alto or surrounding cities.  The proposed changes focus on requests to move routes in the Santa Cruz mountains and departures over San Mateo County. The FAA rejected all ideas that might have provided some relief to mid Peninsula residents as “not feasible”.

The Select Committee was to work on Arrivals problems over the Peninsula and Santa Cruz County, but the FAA inexplicably added Departures initiatives from San Mateo County while eliminating all our suggested mid-Peninsula Arrivals initiatives as “unfeasible”. (Note that many of these principles have been adopted successfully at other airports.) Once again, the FAA chose to move noise for some communities, while doing nothing to reduce noise overall. The Updated Initiatives Document does not offer any relief to large mid-Peninsula cities which have been most affected by years of politically-initiated moving of routes over the Peninsula and by the FAA’s 2015 NextGen concentration of routes and lower approach altitudes over our cities.

The FAA document suggests yet another round of non-transparent politics in FAA route decisions.  The FAA committed on July 24, 2015 to come back to communities with short-term and long-term remediation initiatives for public consideration.  Instead, the Updated Initiatives Document makes clear that the FAA has already created its short list based on input from just a few organizations and political figures.  This short list, and only this short list, will now be presented to the Select Committee, whose voting members include many communities who will benefit, but not those most harmed, like Palo Alto and Los Altos.

The FAA never delivered on their July 24, 2015 commitment to return with short-term and long term remediation. Instead, side technical conversations occurred outside the public process. Suggestions and requests made by Sky Posse Palo Alto six months ago are blatantly ignored in the FAA document.

Palo Alto and other mid Peninsula cities have been disproportionately affected by the moving of aircraft noise over the past ten years, yet Palo Alto and Los Altos have been explicitly excluded from direct representation from the two main political groups who influence aircraft route locations – the SFO Roundtable and the recently congressionally appointed Select Committee.

Bottom line: Once again, the children, elderly, families, and working men and women of Palo Alto and neighboring communities are denied any aviation noise and pollution relief.

This happened the day after a record 13,416 complaints were logged on stop.jetnoise.net with Palo Alto being #1 in terms of number of complaints (29%) and number of people who complained (25%).  Our neighbors in Los Altos were right behind us with 24% of the complaints and 22% of the people who complained. On May 15, 2016, Palo and Los Altos combined had 53% of the complaints and 46% of the people who complained. 

Be assured that we are already in contact with the City of Palo Alto. We do not agree with their position to wait until the last Select Committee meeting on June 29th to respond to the FAA feasibility analysis, especially in light of the fact that the City has retained aviation consultants. We will also continue to put pressure on the City to schedule the Community Meeting on aircraft noise that they have agreed to hold. In addition, we will provide Select Committee members facts and suggestions to evaluate solutions and measure progress.
However, we need you to express your voice as well.

Here are things you can do:

·         Email, call, write, or meet elected officials to express your profound disappointment at the FAA analysis results and demand that elected officials put pressure on the FAA to identify solutions within the next 3 months that will provide relief, short-term and long-term, to Palo Alto residents.   See contact information for SC members and elected officials below.

·         Attend Select Committee meetings regardless of the location to hear, speak up, and put pressure on elected officials to find solutions short-term and long-term. The meetings are open to the public and have a section for public comments.

  •    NEXT WEEK: Wednesday May 25 6-8:30PM – Select Committee Meeting. Location: Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, 307 Church Street, Santa Cruz
  •   Wednesday June 15 6-8:30PM – Select Committee Meeting. Location: San Mateo County (exact  location TBD)
  •   Wednesday June 29 6-8:30PM – Select Committee Meeting. Location: Santa Clara County (exact location TBD)

·          Attend SFO Roundtable meetings next week and in June, These are also open to the public

  • Technical Working Group to evaluate and discuss the FAA Initiative feasibility results. These meeting will both be at the airport, exact location to be announced. Tentative dates are:
    •   Thursday May 26, 9AM-noon (location TBD)
    •   Wednesday June 22, 9AM-noon (location TBD)
  •   Full Roundtable meeting to discuss and act on the Technical Working Group’s findings:  Monday June 27 in the evening (location TBD)

Thank you for doing your part.
With warm regards,

Sky Posse Palo Alto