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Efforts to curb airplane noise leave Palo Alto leaders fuming

Mayor says city was left out of process by SFO as it developed 'innovative approaches' for flights

Palo Alto claims it was not informed of the San Francisco International Airport's proposal for new landing approaches, which was recently submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration. Photo by Bill Larkins; obtained via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

As the San Francisco International Airport explores new flight procedures for reducing airplane noise over Bay Area communities, Palo Alto is voicing frustrations that its concerns continue to fall under the radar.

The most recent dispute between the city and the airport was detailed in an exchange of letters between Mayor Pat Burt and Ivar Satero, airport director at SFO. The airport has been working with communities to develop ways to reduce noise in response to an upsurge of complaints related to the Federal Aviation Administration's implementation of NextGen, a flight system that in many cases consolidated flight paths and created what some local residents described as "superhighways" over their homes.

While Palo Alto has been lobbying lawmakers and airport officials for years to address the noise complaints, city leaders have been flustered by their relative powerlessness to make a difference on what is inherently a national issue that is out of their purview. Its efforts on a regional level have also run into political hurdles. The SFO Roundtable, a coalition that consists of San Francisco and cities in San Mateo County and that regularly meets to discuss airplane noise, recently considered allowing Palo Alto to join them but ultimately reversed course and decided to keep membership limited to the two existing counties.

In a June 17 letter, Satero assured Palo Alto officials that their input was taken into account as SFO moved ahead with an effort known as the Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS), technology that uses GPS signals to allow aircraft to land with more precision. The system paves the way for the airport to experiment with new landing approaches, including ones that reduce airplane noise. SFO recently submitted to the FAA its proposal for "innovative approaches" that aim to reduce aircraft noise over communities.

Though the airport discussed the innovative approaches with SFO Roundtable members, who voted in April 6 to support the submission, Burt took issue with the fact that neither Palo Alto nor any of the other cities that are not in the Roundtable were informed about the proposal. He noted the only eight roundtable members voted to support the submission, while six opposed it. Among those opposing was Menlo Park, which Burt noted is the only city in the roundtable that is directly affected by the SERFR overlay, a flight path that goes over Midpeninsula.

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Burt argued in a May 31 letter that Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Los Altos will "need to be involved in the future to evaluate the noise data and criteria that will determine whether a GLS (GBAS Landing System) approach must be discontinued if it creates more noise."

"Therefore, Palo Alto requests that the IAs (innovative approaches) submittals be withdrawn until proper coordination of the affected communities can occur," Burt's letter states.

This wasn't the first time Palo Alto officials expressed their frustration about not being heard. At an April 25 community meeting facilitated by SFO, Vice Mayor Lydia Kou claimed that airport officials have failed to consider the city's requests for permanent noise monitoring and to solicit its feedback before moving forward with proposed reforms.

While SFO has been deploying portable noise monitors in Palo Alto, it has not been willing to make a commitment to continuous monitoring.

"We are not being heard and we have grave concerns about what is being done," Kou said. "It could potentially increase the noises, even though all your tests say it will reduce it. The fact is, we do need a meaningful way of monitoring noise. Temporary doesn't do it."

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Burt reiterated in his May 31 letter the city's desire to see "uninterrupted" noise monitoring to assess the impact of the proposed landing approaches, particularly in the SERFR overlay. Temporary monitors, he wrote, are "unacceptable because of the anticipated low usage" of the new approaches.

In response, Satero wrote that while SFO is agreeable to portable noise monitoring, he would not commit to measuring noise on a permanent, ongoing basis. He suggested that the city work with its elected representatives to secure funding for this type of monitoring.

He also made it clear that SFO has no intention of withdrawing the "innovative approaches" that it had submitted to the FAA. Palo Alto, Satero noted, played a very active role throughout the process and the airport's public engagement process "has allowed for a full range of viewpoints and concerns to be expressed."

"As we have often stated, we know that the process will take multiple steps toward achieving truly meaningful reductions in noise," Satero wrote. "Achieving these reductions is why the Airport pursued GBAS in the first place."

He also assured Burt that the airport is committed to "deactivating any procedure that demonstrates a negative impact."

"For these reasons, the Airport plans to continue to move forward with this process in order to achieve meaningful noise reductions for affected communities," Satero wrote.

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Gennady Sheyner
 
Gennady Sheyner covers the City Hall beat in Palo Alto as well as regional politics, with a special focus on housing and transportation. Before joining the Palo Alto Weekly/PaloAltoOnline.com in 2008, he covered breaking news and local politics for the Waterbury Republican-American, a daily newspaper in Connecticut. Read more >>

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Efforts to curb airplane noise leave Palo Alto leaders fuming

Mayor says city was left out of process by SFO as it developed 'innovative approaches' for flights

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Jul 1, 2022, 8:57 am

As the San Francisco International Airport explores new flight procedures for reducing airplane noise over Bay Area communities, Palo Alto is voicing frustrations that its concerns continue to fall under the radar.

The most recent dispute between the city and the airport was detailed in an exchange of letters between Mayor Pat Burt and Ivar Satero, airport director at SFO. The airport has been working with communities to develop ways to reduce noise in response to an upsurge of complaints related to the Federal Aviation Administration's implementation of NextGen, a flight system that in many cases consolidated flight paths and created what some local residents described as "superhighways" over their homes.

While Palo Alto has been lobbying lawmakers and airport officials for years to address the noise complaints, city leaders have been flustered by their relative powerlessness to make a difference on what is inherently a national issue that is out of their purview. Its efforts on a regional level have also run into political hurdles. The SFO Roundtable, a coalition that consists of San Francisco and cities in San Mateo County and that regularly meets to discuss airplane noise, recently considered allowing Palo Alto to join them but ultimately reversed course and decided to keep membership limited to the two existing counties.

In a June 17 letter, Satero assured Palo Alto officials that their input was taken into account as SFO moved ahead with an effort known as the Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS), technology that uses GPS signals to allow aircraft to land with more precision. The system paves the way for the airport to experiment with new landing approaches, including ones that reduce airplane noise. SFO recently submitted to the FAA its proposal for "innovative approaches" that aim to reduce aircraft noise over communities.

Though the airport discussed the innovative approaches with SFO Roundtable members, who voted in April 6 to support the submission, Burt took issue with the fact that neither Palo Alto nor any of the other cities that are not in the Roundtable were informed about the proposal. He noted the only eight roundtable members voted to support the submission, while six opposed it. Among those opposing was Menlo Park, which Burt noted is the only city in the roundtable that is directly affected by the SERFR overlay, a flight path that goes over Midpeninsula.

Burt argued in a May 31 letter that Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Los Altos will "need to be involved in the future to evaluate the noise data and criteria that will determine whether a GLS (GBAS Landing System) approach must be discontinued if it creates more noise."

"Therefore, Palo Alto requests that the IAs (innovative approaches) submittals be withdrawn until proper coordination of the affected communities can occur," Burt's letter states.

This wasn't the first time Palo Alto officials expressed their frustration about not being heard. At an April 25 community meeting facilitated by SFO, Vice Mayor Lydia Kou claimed that airport officials have failed to consider the city's requests for permanent noise monitoring and to solicit its feedback before moving forward with proposed reforms.

While SFO has been deploying portable noise monitors in Palo Alto, it has not been willing to make a commitment to continuous monitoring.

"We are not being heard and we have grave concerns about what is being done," Kou said. "It could potentially increase the noises, even though all your tests say it will reduce it. The fact is, we do need a meaningful way of monitoring noise. Temporary doesn't do it."

Burt reiterated in his May 31 letter the city's desire to see "uninterrupted" noise monitoring to assess the impact of the proposed landing approaches, particularly in the SERFR overlay. Temporary monitors, he wrote, are "unacceptable because of the anticipated low usage" of the new approaches.

In response, Satero wrote that while SFO is agreeable to portable noise monitoring, he would not commit to measuring noise on a permanent, ongoing basis. He suggested that the city work with its elected representatives to secure funding for this type of monitoring.

He also made it clear that SFO has no intention of withdrawing the "innovative approaches" that it had submitted to the FAA. Palo Alto, Satero noted, played a very active role throughout the process and the airport's public engagement process "has allowed for a full range of viewpoints and concerns to be expressed."

"As we have often stated, we know that the process will take multiple steps toward achieving truly meaningful reductions in noise," Satero wrote. "Achieving these reductions is why the Airport pursued GBAS in the first place."

He also assured Burt that the airport is committed to "deactivating any procedure that demonstrates a negative impact."

"For these reasons, the Airport plans to continue to move forward with this process in order to achieve meaningful noise reductions for affected communities," Satero wrote.

Comments

long time local resident
Registered user
Community Center
on Jul 1, 2022 at 10:56 am
long time local resident, Community Center
Registered user
on Jul 1, 2022 at 10:56 am

Palo Alto should really be a part of San Mateo County rather than Santa Clara. Our concerns are much more aligned with the smaller cities in San Mateo than with the city of San Jose, which dominates Santa Clara County. This includes issues of airport noise, transportation tax allocations, and many other things. However, for those towns to exclude Palo Alto and Los Altos because we are not in the same county, and for the airport authority to let that happen, is absurd.


Mark
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Jul 1, 2022 at 11:32 am
Mark, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Jul 1, 2022 at 11:32 am

The noise is infuriating sometimes —we all appreciate efforts to eliminate it. Being here since 1983, the difference in large jet traffic and it’s noise is enormous. Some of those planes are so low and loud it is alarming. There’s now a constant lane of sky traffic for commercial planes above us here. What an enormous reduction in quality of life here when compared to pre-airline traffic.


M
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 1, 2022 at 12:36 pm
M, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jul 1, 2022 at 12:36 pm

SFO Airport Director Satero's letter is confusing, as he was responsible for Palo Alto being considered for SFO Roundtable membership. Unfortunately, Congressional and San Mateo County pressure ultimately turned its elected membership against allowing Palo Alto to join.

SFO is the only major airport in the country where its FAA-funded Roundtable, and noise monitoring and abatement initiatives associated with it, are limited to its owner, SF, and the county where it resides. San Mateo County secured this exclusivity via multiple negotiations with SF over building, land-use and transportation permits and variances, particularly during the building of SFO's International Terminal. In fact, the SFO Roundtable is literally operated by the San Mateo County Building and Planning Department under contract from SFO.

It is ironic that Dir. Satero would tell Palo Alto to turn to our congressional representatives to obtain monitors as the FAA only accepts airport sponsored monitors. Moreover, our congressional representative, who is formerly a SM County Supervisor, has a long history of defending the current SFO Roundtable structure and supported Roundtable recommendations that have shifted traffic over Palo Alto -- the most recent example being Oceanic traffic from the Pacific.

The temporary monitors SFO did deploy showed that Palo Alto had the second highest number of noise exceedances -- the amount of noise aircraft create over ambient levels -- of all Roundtable cities, and an extremely high number of SFO planes below their designated airspace. This data alone should have warranted monitors, yet SFO has refused citing vague terms like "revenue diversion." In other words, because SFO does not include Palo Alto in its federal filings for its Noise Compatibility Program (as it does for all of San Mateo County) we are ineligible.

It is entirely within SFO's control to modify these filings and provide a permanent noise monitor in the city.



Resident since 1997
Registered user
Greenmeadow
on Jul 1, 2022 at 12:54 pm
Resident since 1997, Greenmeadow
Registered user
on Jul 1, 2022 at 12:54 pm

A win-win resolution would be to move SFO to a new location by the ocean (i.e., somewhere near Half Moon Bay?). The precious freed land of SFO can be used for whatever needs (i.e., more affordable housing?).


We Are The People
Registered user
Menlo Park
on Jul 1, 2022 at 1:25 pm
We Are The People, Menlo Park
Registered user
on Jul 1, 2022 at 1:25 pm

I sort of agree with *long time Resident.
But I hardly even hear the Airplanes any longer, after a Lifetime of them flying over.
The most noise from S.F. Airport, is found in Burlingame. Ever been to Serramonte Shopping Ctr.
I feel that Palo Alto's (rant) is a distraction. A Distraction taken away from Palo Alto's irritating
tiny Airport that seems mostly to making noise on the Weekends!
They also fall out of the "Air" in East Palo Alto and in the Baylands.
They should do away with that Airport and start building an Exit off of the Dumbarton
Bridge, that should have been built decades ago.
An Exit that should run right down Embarcadero Rd, onto Highway 101.


RW
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 1, 2022 at 1:33 pm
RW, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jul 1, 2022 at 1:33 pm

Mr. Satero’s response is concerning on many fronts. He completely ignores Palo Alto’s concerns. Even though he has said on multiple occasions that Palo Alto is severely impacted by NextGen concentration of planes, he has done nothing to mitigate the problem. His letter being the latest example. His claim that GBAS is about noise reduction is not borne out by the airport’s own testing. Noise increased 7-8dB in some Palo Alto locations. That’s bad. GBAS is about landing more planes, plain and simple. Those planes come in over Palo Alto.

Additionally, for Mr. Satero to ask for only the Roundtable’s support is completely inappropriate when communities outside the Roundtable are impacted. Menlo Park , like Palo Alto will be impacted and voted against the procedures. Further, the member from Menlo Park made a friendly amendment to address some of the concerns. It was seconded. It should have been given a vote by the full membership but was not.

The whole process and the airport’s response are abysmal. Palo Alto needs to recognize it needs to change its strategy. We are SFO’s dumping ground. They shove traffic over the border and ignore the problem.


Old PA Resident
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 1, 2022 at 1:52 pm
Old PA Resident, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jul 1, 2022 at 1:52 pm

Seems to me the loudest/most irritating airplanes are out of the Palo Alto and Moffett airports. How about if PA starts to limit the noise out of its own airport? Please.


Mark Dinan
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Jul 1, 2022 at 2:28 pm
Mark Dinan, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jul 1, 2022 at 2:28 pm

To echo what other people have said on this thread, "Why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but pay no attention to the log in your own eye?" The source of noise pollution in Palo Alto (and East Palo Alto) from airplanes is from the Palo Alto Airport. In addition to the noise from airplanes, we have also seen multiple crashes in the recent past leading to at least 4 deaths and multiple injuries. If Palo Alto is concerned about airplane noise, shutting down PAO is a good first step.


resident3
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2022 at 3:28 pm
resident3, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jul 1, 2022 at 3:28 pm

I applaud the City of Palo Alto for advocating for noise monitors!

And what about Ultra Fine Particles? Neither the FAA or EPA are measuring these pollutants and it's their job tot do so.

It is EMBARRASSING that we have all these comments about whose noise is better or worse, or whose eye has specks or logs. Or what someone recalls hearing in 1983.

Noise monitoring would provide objective measurements. All cities should be stepping up to make this happen.



JR
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Jul 1, 2022 at 3:35 pm
JR, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Jul 1, 2022 at 3:35 pm

With these latest actions, there is no doubt that SFO is a corrupt organization that is engaging in racketeering. They are systematically moving their air traffic away from the City and County of San Francisco to Palo Alto and other Santa Clara County locales.

The culture of corruption in the City and County of San Francisco and SFO must stop now. It is a disgrace to democracy.


M
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 1, 2022 at 4:04 pm
M, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jul 1, 2022 at 4:04 pm

What about Palo Alto Airport is a fair question and it should be on the table. According to the temporary noise monitors PAO is 7% of the traffic over Palo Alto and East Palo Alto, with another 6% from San Carlos Airport. 87% of the traffic is SFO, with flights every 90 seconds during rush hours. (See SFO_Palo_Alto_Short_Term_Noise_Report_2021, available online.)

The reason many of us believe a monitor is important is to provide data -- that the FAA cannot refute -- about all air traffic over us.

East Palo Alto appears to be in the process of joining the SFO Roundtable. Palo Alto should be able to do so as well. And both should work together to address all aviation noise issues over us.








Howie Lawrence
Registered user
Palo Alto Hills
on Jul 1, 2022 at 4:35 pm
Howie Lawrence, Palo Alto Hills
Registered user
on Jul 1, 2022 at 4:35 pm

What neighborhoods in Palo Alto are most impacted by this noise issue?

I see the jetliners above but never actually hear them.

Having served on the USS Enterprise, I am aware of how loud jets can be but am wondering whether these noise issues are being exaggerated.


Paly02
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jul 1, 2022 at 4:45 pm
Paly02, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jul 1, 2022 at 4:45 pm

A big part of why Palo Alto got refused to join the Roundtable is because the Rep for most of the cities in the roundtable - Rep Jackie Speier - warned them that Palo Alto is rich and entitled and liable to throw its weight around. I assume the whole Foothills Park debacle made those cities decide she had a point and vote not to include Palo Alto.


RW
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 1, 2022 at 6:25 pm
RW, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jul 1, 2022 at 6:25 pm

Howie, the GBAS report posted on the City website provides the data (link below).

Figures 3-1 and 3-3 Page 22 show the sites where temporary noise monitors were placed

Table E on Page 24 shows the number of noise events at each site from aircraft, It also shows community ambient noise v aircraft noise at each location.

The data clearly shows that areas around Palo Alto are subjected to frequent SFO airplane noise substantially above the community ambient noise levels.

Web Link


resident3
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 1, 2022 at 11:28 pm
resident3, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jul 1, 2022 at 11:28 pm

@Paly02,

"Rep Jackie Speier - warned them that Palo Alto is rich and entitled and liable to throw its weight around. I assume the whole Foothills Park debacle made those cities decide she had a point and vote not to include Palo Alto."

What weight are you talking about? The City hardly put up a fight where there was none because nobody was against the Foothill outcome. The issue was how to bear the costs (to the preserve and to the City) going from a preserve with a footprint of one town using it, to becoming Open space for the Bay Area.

What is it with environmental Math in Silicon Valley?


cheese guy
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Jul 2, 2022 at 6:06 am
cheese guy, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Jul 2, 2022 at 6:06 am

It always amazes me how much attention this issue (or non-issue) gets. We have nearly zero affordable housing, crumbling democracy, a global pandemic lacking resources, climate change (ok, you could argue that this is somewhat related to all those jets, but as long as there is demand, all those jets are going to have to go somewhere), diminishing individual rights, and the horrible (and rather NIMBY, let's send those jets over some other city!) problem of jet noise. Things seem a bit out of focus for the Palo Alto problems of the 1%.


Palo Alto native
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 2, 2022 at 8:32 am
Palo Alto native, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jul 2, 2022 at 8:32 am

Where is Ana Eshoo in all of this —she is our congresswoman. Palo Alto city Council needs to bring Molly Stump ( city attorney) into this equation and use any legal means they have in their toolbox to push back FAA rules/regulations and SFO. Interesting that all the revenue from the airport goes to San Francisco, probably one of their biggest money makers ever. They’ve been dumping planes and routes overPalo Alto since NEXTGEN (2016).How many more years will it take to solve the dumping of SFO’s noise, fine particle pollution and possible safety issues with so many routes all converging over Palo Alto? Do your job CC of Palo Alto:represent your citizenry!


Chris
Registered user
Charleston Meadows
on Jul 2, 2022 at 10:17 am
Chris, Charleston Meadows
Registered user
on Jul 2, 2022 at 10:17 am

I do not support the foothill decision AT ALL. The ACLU needs to earn my confidence back

This roundtable is obviously the perfect vehicle for corruption. Their refusal to include us is undemocratic, and extremely suspicious.

Moving the airport to half moon bay, which is served by less than half as many roads, would be a disaster. Removing Palo Alto airport would be a blow to our personal freedoms.


Carol
Registered user
another community
on Jul 2, 2022 at 11:37 am
Carol, another community
Registered user
on Jul 2, 2022 at 11:37 am

Maybe the powers that be don't want pilots blinded by laser pointers as they enter a final airport approach following their long flights (They can count on your civility). What are the various city stats on that?


Anneke
Registered user
Professorville
on Jul 2, 2022 at 12:14 pm
Anneke, Professorville
Registered user
on Jul 2, 2022 at 12:14 pm

Palo Alto also needs to ensure its own "noise house" is clean!

Several years ago, I discovered that the Planning Department used the same level of allowed daily ambient noise for night time as well.

When one of the builders applied for a permit, the city allowed him to install a large air conditioner that produced up to the limit of daily ambient noise for at night as well, which was allowed by the planning department but not correct, as ambient noise at night is much less than ambient noise during the day.

When I asked why Palo Alto did not have two levels, one for the day and one for the night, the gentleman could not answer my question. He told me that Palo Alto did away with the official city rules from 2010, that had indeed two levels to measure the difference of ambient noise between day and night.

I have no idea if the city has corrected the situation.


Chuck Buhle
Registered user
Midtown
on Jul 2, 2022 at 1:04 pm
Chuck Buhle, Midtown
Registered user
on Jul 2, 2022 at 1:04 pm

I have never heard any excessive jetliner noise and I know what it sounds like.

Years ago I resided off Montague Expressway in Santa Clara and my residence was right below the landing & take-off flight path of the San Jose Mineta International Airport.

The aircraft noise was incredibly loud and we eventually moved.

I cannot imagine anyone in Palo Alto enduring or experiencing that type of noise level.

So what is the big deal?


Cmore Butz
Registered user
Professorville
on Jul 2, 2022 at 4:41 pm
Cmore Butz, Professorville
Registered user
on Jul 2, 2022 at 4:41 pm
William Hitchens
Registered user
Mountain View
on Jul 2, 2022 at 5:30 pm
William Hitchens, Mountain View
Registered user
on Jul 2, 2022 at 5:30 pm

The fears on the part of SFO and San Mateo County was that Palo Alto is so big, rich, arrogantly self-entitled (!!!), and aggressive that it would dominate the SFO planning commission if they were allowed to take part. There's a second issue that's even more important. The PA govt and special interest bureaucracies are totally deadlocked and gridlocked and prevent PA from making ANY substantive decisions about VERY important issues affecting its future --- updating the City's power supply, substations, and local power grid by a hugely whopping and impossibly expensive 400% to make it far more robust than it presently is, making of-grade rail crossings in ways that are both sensible and affordable, improving roads to relieve congestion choke points, and any housing and retail zoning issues that might affect the quality of life in PA in future years.

PA has to learn to "Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the GD Way"! Right now, their egos are so great the they are stuck at not being able to get out of the way.


resident3
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 2, 2022 at 11:30 pm
resident3, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jul 2, 2022 at 11:30 pm

@W.Hitchens

"The fears on the part of SFO and San Mateo County was that Palo Alto is so big, rich, arrogantly self-entitled (!!!), and aggressive that it would dominate the SFO planning commission if they were allowed to take part."

It's not the SFO planning commission that Palo Alto was a candidate for. The SFO Planning Commission is in San Francisco. SFO is located in San Mateo though and San Mateo - SFO's landlord - is host to the SFO Roundtable which has member cities from San Francisco and San Mateo.

The rejection of Palo Alto was from the SFO Roundtable where Palo Alto actually has some friends, and they were close to accepting Palo Alto.

I think Palo Alto's natural friends on airport noise are those who are genuinely interested in holding airports accountable, which am sure the political interests don't for obvious reasons. This being said, how popular are airports or flying these days?

Even one of the busiest airports in the world is cutting capacity because of community concerns

"Schiphol flights to be limited to 11% below 2019 levels to cut noise, emissions"
Web Link


Darin Long
Registered user
Greenmeadow
on Jul 3, 2022 at 7:59 am
Darin Long, Greenmeadow
Registered user
on Jul 3, 2022 at 7:59 am

I never hear any noise emanating from passenger planes taking off or approaching SFO.

This is beginning to sound like the petty complaints about Shoreline Amphitheater stage sounds awhile back.

No one ever complains about the sound generated from Caltrain commuters or the noisey gravel trains that run in the early morning hours.

If this were Millbrae or Daly City it would be one thing but most Palo Altans should have nary a complaint to lodge.

And lastly, how many Palo Alto residents use the airlines for outside travel or business?

The ones that do have absolutely no reason or right to be complaining because they too are contributing to the problem by simply being onboard.


William Hitchens
Registered user
Mountain View
on Jul 3, 2022 at 5:51 pm
William Hitchens, Mountain View
Registered user
on Jul 3, 2022 at 5:51 pm

What good is Palo Alto if the city is so bureaucratically gridlocked that it is impossible for the govt to make ANY important political decisions? Seems like that issue that I cited was deliberately avoided just because I made a minor mistake because --- I'd never live in PA. So sad that uninformed apologists still support Palo Alto's bureaucratic and political gross incompetence. I wouldn't want the PA govt on any planning commission where I wanted/needed unanimous consent!
My beef with MV is different. The govt is functional, but it supports impossibly idealistic programs that will destroy the quality of life in MY city out of gross ideological bias and sheer idiocy by ignorantly hoping that they can "save the world". They can't. Hell, they can't even save Mountain View from being a high rise ghetto.


Palo Alto native
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 4, 2022 at 8:11 am
Palo Alto native, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jul 4, 2022 at 8:11 am

To Chuck:
What part of Midtwon do you live in? I am in midtown directly under 2 major plane routes—-jets all day and night. Even some 5 am flights. Lately after 9 pm, some extremely loud, low flying jets. If you are lucky enough to not be under flight routes, you may want to become more sensitive to many of your neighbors in Midtown, Old Palo Alto, Duveneck and some of us who regularly hike in the Count Parks! Flight tracks that used to fly over Atherton have been moved over Palo Alto—-a fact.


Robert Benson
Registered user
Portola Valley
on Jul 4, 2022 at 8:46 am
Robert Benson, Portola Valley
Registered user
on Jul 4, 2022 at 8:46 am

Palo Alto is a more bustling community than Atherton and can afford to deal with a little ambient noise from a passing airliner.

Why not start small and progress from there in terms of noise abatement?

Curtail the use of gas-powered landscaping tools, reduce Caltrains & gravel train noise (as another poster succinctly noted), cut down on traffic noise etc.

All combined, they make far more noise than the ‘friendly skies.’

As an airline pilot, I wonder how many complaints are from those who occasionally fly out of SFO for business or pleasure. For those that do, are you actually concerned about the sensitivities of your neighbors down below while you are enjoying a glass of champagne?

Didn’t think so…


We Are The People
Registered user
Menlo Park
on Jul 4, 2022 at 9:29 am
We Are The People, Menlo Park
Registered user
on Jul 4, 2022 at 9:29 am

Babbling about how a few planes (might) be Flying over their House? Then there is the City of East Palo Alto & The Belle Haven area. The City Council, just voted into paying $1,500 (influence money) to join the Table. (as if they will be buying a voice) NOT. The Citizens of the small 2.5 miles City have been crying foul for years. Now the Council feels that paying the "coercion" money, will buy them some "Clout"? NOT. (they've been "duped" before). In the past, it did nothing, even after a crash fell into a former Mayors home.
The airplanes have been Flying over them for decades. And Palo Alto has had more crashes (per capita), than any other Airport on the Peninsula. The Palo Alto Airports name should be changed to "Air Crash Central of the Nation". Because of the small square foot miles. The East Palo Alto residents have been getting "Air Flight" from Not only from S.F.O. But Moffett Field, San Jose and the infamous "Air Crash" Central Palo Alto Corporate Airport. Prior to that "Heller Helicopter", prior to their closing. (used by the CIA). Palo Alto's tiny noisy field only caters to the "Elite" Corporates. They pay the Cost in Flying in and out. Some them make it in & out. A lot of them crash. The airport only financially benefits Palo Alto.
[Portion removed; off topic.]


Julia Withers
Registered user
Menlo Park
on Jul 4, 2022 at 10:16 am
Julia Withers, Menlo Park
Registered user
on Jul 4, 2022 at 10:16 am

In some ways, disgruntled Palo Alto residents always have a way of promoting their false sense of self-entitlement.

Palo Alto is a thriving, modern day city...not some podunk locale in the Central Valley.

Outside ambient noise is just a sign of modern times and if the Db levels are that unbearable, consider living elsewhere.


resident3
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 5, 2022 at 12:33 am
resident3, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jul 5, 2022 at 12:33 am

@ Robert Benson

"As an airline pilot, I wonder how many complaints are from those who occasionally fly out of SFO for business or pleasure. For those that do, are you actually concerned about the sensitivities of your neighbors down below while you are enjoying a glass of champagne?"

You don't have to fly to feel guilty about what burning fuel and making noise is doing to others. Congress bails out airlines all the time with everybody's money because - as you know, the true cost of flying would actually put some of these airports out of business.

As for the old "move away" business, be careful for what you wish for. San Francisco tourism isn't what it used to be, there's a ton of places to live and work from that are still interested in quality of life or where neighbors get along better. If the people who are willing to care about quality of life (for people) move away, that should leave a nice Aerotropolis, where cities are meant to just be part of airport malls.


Buck Taylor
Registered user
Barron Park
on Jul 5, 2022 at 10:27 am
Buck Taylor, Barron Park
Registered user
on Jul 5, 2022 at 10:27 am

Its too late for Palo Alto to ever become an eco-friendly environment again. We are not Ohlones.

Overdevelopment + too many cars and people have led to this scenario.

And complaining about airplane noise is both fruitless and pointless.

Live with it or move on...chances are you will receive a pretty penny for your overpriced/overvalued PA home and this in turn can be your Ticket to Ride.


staying home
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jul 5, 2022 at 10:42 am
staying home, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jul 5, 2022 at 10:42 am

such outrage over something that is truly infrequent and short lived. When we do occasionally here an airliner making the approach, it is audible for only like 30 seconds. Less frequent and shorter than what I hear from CalTrain. If you want to attack sources of noise, go after the leaf blowers that are in constant use.


resident3
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 5, 2022 at 1:46 pm
resident3, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jul 5, 2022 at 1:46 pm

@staying home

"When we do occasionally here an airliner making the approach, it is audible for only like 30 seconds"

"the approach" is a fairly technical term.

according to this "skybrary" Web Link
"Approach: The phase of flight starting when an airworthy aircraft under the control of the flight crew descends below 5,000 feet AGL with the intention to conduct an approach and ending when the aircraft crosses the approach end of the landing runway (runway threshold) or at the commencement of a go around maneuver."

in terms of what is "audible" you also seem to be pretty technical with terms like "infrequent" or "short lived." For me, 30 seconds is not short lived, that's pretty long. SFO flight paths are probably more frequent than Caltrain.


Bob Lange
Registered user
Woodside
on Jul 6, 2022 at 9:01 am
Bob Lange, Woodside
Registered user
on Jul 6, 2022 at 9:01 am

"For me, 30 seconds is not short lived,"

It is to most people...learn to live within your current environment or move on.

We cannot go back to the 19th century.


staying home
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jul 7, 2022 at 8:54 am
staying home, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jul 7, 2022 at 8:54 am

lived here for 24 years, in PA, MV, and MP. Never once had a conversation with friends or neighbors about "wow these airplanes are loud". Have had conversations about cal train horns at night, construction noise from HWY 101, leaf blowers all day, neighbor construction before 8am and on weekends. Never once about airplane noise.


Stepheny
Registered user
Midtown
on Jul 7, 2022 at 12:12 pm
Stepheny , Midtown
Registered user
on Jul 7, 2022 at 12:12 pm

As with all things political -- and surely noise abatement has become this -- we need a compromise. For those of us who regularly have planes flying overhead at less than 5000 ft at 12:30 AM and again at 4:30 AM, we would like some relief. I keep my screens open to the breezes and don't use A/C.

Why doesn't Palo Alto propose that we share the noise? We nowhere asked to water landscaping on specific days, specific times, depending on our address being even or odd numbered. If the landing pathways could be rotated in a similar fashion among various communities, it would be a more equitable solution.

And yes, Molly Stump, City Attorney for Palo Alto, should find some way of using the law to move Palo Alto's case forward.


Stepheny
Registered user
Midtown
on Jul 7, 2022 at 12:14 pm
Stepheny , Midtown
Registered user
on Jul 7, 2022 at 12:14 pm

"We now are asked to water on specific days, at specific times."


staying home
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jul 7, 2022 at 1:39 pm
staying home, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jul 7, 2022 at 1:39 pm

I didn't see in article or in any of the comments, but are there any measurements on the noise in PA? What is the db of the aircaft flying over PA?


Karen
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 10, 2022 at 1:09 pm
Karen, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Jul 10, 2022 at 1:09 pm

For those concerned about air traffic at Palo Alto Airport, you can register noise complaints by phone at 650-329-2405 or via e-mail at [email protected] Note that many of the aircraft flying in or out of Palo Alto Airport use leaded gas, so we are also getting toxic emissions in addition to noise.


Anonymous
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 11, 2022 at 3:50 pm
Anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Jul 11, 2022 at 3:50 pm

We know full well traffic was shifted over us at very northern edge of Santa Clara County, away from Atherton which is in San Mateo County. Clever move.
The level of traffic used to be FAR less.
And Santa Clara County, which is supposed to represent us, is HQ down in San Jose and doesn’t care about us.


HHTurner
Registered user
Ventura
on Jul 12, 2022 at 11:12 am
HHTurner, Ventura
Registered user
on Jul 12, 2022 at 11:12 am

Also wondering if anyone has measured the noise? Regarding airplanes... there are many things that bother me more than a few seconds of flying by an airplane.


Regina Miller
Registered user
Stanford
on Jul 12, 2022 at 11:54 am
Regina Miller, Stanford
Registered user
on Jul 12, 2022 at 11:54 am

This sonic issue is being blown out of proportion.

Modern society breeds noise and if/when it becomes unbearable, consider moving to another locale.

The people who complained about the music emanating out of Shoreline Amphitheater were simply doing so because they did not like the music.


Theo Lane
Registered user
Mountain View
on Jul 12, 2022 at 3:39 pm
Theo Lane, Mountain View
Registered user
on Jul 12, 2022 at 3:39 pm

This airliner-related noise complaint in Palo Alto is much ado about nothing.

Try living along Central Expressway and having to hear those rumbling Caltrains and their excessively loud horns every single day.

Disgruntled Palo Alto residents will only be satisfied when EV-powered blimps replace the jetliners.


resident3
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2022 at 8:53 am
resident3, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jul 13, 2022 at 8:53 am

Airplane noise is one of the top 3 most commented topics in Palo Alto Online's Town Square.

The things I remember about Palo Alto while growing up:
| 1203 comments | 455623 Views

Palo Alto eyes another shake-up to parking policies in commercial areas
| 1030 comments | 11555 Views

Plane Noise
| 601 comments | 24805 Views

Together - the various PA Online airplane noise threads that have appeared over the years would probably put airplane noise at the top of the most commented and most viewed topics on Town Square.

Just this week's in Town Square engagement

PE teacher charged with sexually assaulting student
56 Comments 28964 Views
Efforts to curb airplane noise leave Palo Alto leaders fuming
44 Comments 10087 Views
Developer proposes to replace Creekside Inn with apartments
32 Comments 4299 Views

Interestingly, it's the folks who don't think airplane noise is a big deal or who associate noise with "progress" that are the busiest posters.

This thread would be dead by now if not for the airport and noise defenders because really, what more is there to say that noise measurements make sense, good on Palo Alto for leading on that.


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