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Jet Airplane Noise in Palo Alto

Original post made by Carly on Jul 17, 2007

I live near the intersection of Embarcadero and Middlefield in Palo Alto - and have for 17 years.

Over the past couple of years it seems to me and my husband that jet airplane noise from planes heading to SFO has increased markedly. Sometimes we can't converse in our yard while one flies over, and during these summer months, with the windows open, our sleep sometimes is disturbed at night by these overflights.

Has anyone else noticed this? One of my neighbors said that he thought the FAA changed regulations recently allowing jet airliners to fly lower over residential areas. This seems like it might be correct. I never used to see planes flying so low as they seem to be doing now.

(I'm not referring to the little buzzy planes that come out of the local Palo Alto airport. They've always been around, and while somewhat of a nuisance, aren't the disruption that the bigger jets seem to be.)

Comments (15)

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2007 at 12:21 pm

I heard that a couple of years ago SFO started using a different approach flight path that came over our area instead of the Bay at certain times for a reason I can't remember.


Posted by Stop global warming, a resident of another community
on Jul 17, 2007 at 12:47 pm

It's time for the residents of PA to demand that the city council take action with the proper authorities so that SFO will be closed.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 17, 2007 at 12:50 pm

I have long advocated that airports be given the ability to purchase any property bothered by noise, then resell that property with a noise easement.


Posted by Simon P, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2007 at 6:51 pm

I've also noticed an increase in aircraft noise - and especially noise from very large planes. I'm not sure anything can be done about this since (I think) SFO traffic is governed by the feds.


Posted by Helen, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2007 at 5:57 am

There are more flights in and out of SF0 and SJ airports, because more people want to fly - daaaa!!!


Posted by plane observer, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 18, 2007 at 11:12 am

The flight paths change based on the weather. You will notice that if it is raining or there is a lot of fog that the planes change course and fly low over the PA area. On nice days, the planes come in from the north by the coast.


Posted by Giraffe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 20, 2007 at 12:22 am

I once read that the standard flight path for planes from Asia (usually big ones, like 747s) is down the middle of the bay, past the San Mateo bridge and then a 180 degree U turn for final approach to SFO.

When there is a lot of traffic, they add a 2nd approach which I think
is down the coast range, over Crystal Springs to Palo Alto and then a
U turn right over our heads and then back to SFO.

I see 747s doing these U turns. At this website,
Web Link
you can see the traffic. Using the 'Tracks' menu, you can see flight paths of planes starting at a specified date/time, for a specified duration. If you are patient that is.


Posted by Geoff, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 20, 2007 at 11:26 am

Giraffe, this is a very interesting site you link. If you do the "tracks" function, you can see that there is a high concentration of arriving SFO flights that fly directly over the intersection of Middlefield/Embarcadero. Thus it doesn't surprise me that the original poster (Community Center), and the responder from Old Palo Alto hear noise. A lot of planes to SFO fly directly over them. Must be annoying.


Posted by concerened parent, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Aug 2, 2007 at 3:09 pm

As a concerned Palo Alto parent, I feel we need to form a coalition of concerned parents so we can eliminate the despicable noise pollution that we are plagued by every day from the countless airplanes, trains, buses, honking cars, helicopters, police and ambulance sirens, leaf-blowers, barking dogs, laughing children, lawnmowers, meowing cats, chatty neighbors, music, ringing phones, skateboards, car engines, wind, thunder, UPS and mail trucks, squeaky doors, falling objects, rain, chirping birds, and buzzing flies. There are too many careless people who don't give a hoot that our children's developing ears are so sensitive to these dangerous noises!! I for one have had enough of hearing peripheral noises every time I step outside, and I will not stop complaining until we've got City Council on board to eliminate these hazards from Palo Alto. If you are a parent who cares about their children, please join my cause!


Posted by Carney, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2007 at 5:58 pm

concerned parent,

Your post rings true to me. So what are we going to do (other than complain on this site) about the horrendous noise from jet planes (and otherwise) that plague our city. (It isn't limited to being outdoors. I am sitting inside with all my windows closed, and hear clearly every jet that passes over...which is about every 4-6 minutes by my reckoning during the busiest times and about every 15 minutes otherwise - including at night.)

Who can we complain to?!


Posted by concerned parent, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Aug 2, 2007 at 6:42 pm

Carny, I'm so glad that there are other residents as concerned as I am. complaining online is a great way to start, but we need to bring this into the real world too. a great first step is knocking on doors to complain to neighbors and let them know what the issue is, and if they are concerned parents that care about their children, i dont see how there would be any hesistation in joining our cause. we can put up fliers of complaint in public areas, we can tape a list of complaints to the city hall door, we can go on public access TV to make our complaints heard. the key is to keep complaining to everyone until we get what we want! a safe, silent environment for our children!


Posted by PB, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 19, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Maybe the jet noise help controlling the price of this area. It is getting redicoulos.


Posted by jet noise?, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 19, 2010 at 6:16 pm

I live near that location. I think the noise from cars is 10 times worse than the noise from airplanes. How do we get the cars off our streets?


Posted by Agree, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Sep 19, 2010 at 8:25 pm

I live near OregonEx and Greer. I often hear the jets and it's annoying. Car noise is more of a humming sound and easier to bear.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 20, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Trains are the noise that carry the most for me and I don't live near the tracks. The clickety clack, the bells, the whistles, the horns, the claxons, the vibrations, plus the inconvenience of getting across the tracks and often waiting for 2 trains before I cross. Ugh. Let's go electric soon and get some peace.


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