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City finds allies in battle against airplane noise

Original post made on Jun 3, 2021

Palo Alto is poised to join an exclusive club that for more than 20 years has declined to give the city a seat at the table but that local officials believe may help them address the irksome issue of airplane noise.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, June 3, 2021, 8:58 AM

Comments (41)

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2021 at 11:38 am

Jennifer is a registered user.

Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley. Is that where the money is? The insanity of airplane noise complaints...


Posted by MP_Resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 3, 2021 at 11:56 am

MP_Resident is a registered user.

Congratulations to Palo Alto and Sky Posse for getting their foot in the door! Metropolitan areas that have successfully gotten the FAA's attention have done so because they are united in concerns about NextGen noise. With the easing of the pandemic, arrivals at SFO are approaching 2019 levels (at my house, an overflight at 4,000 feet every few minutes during peak hours), which is an unbearable impact if you live beneath the flight path. As a Menlo Park resident, I hope that our City Council will join Palo Alto in promoting concerns of everyone impacted by SFO arrivals.


Posted by MBH
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 3, 2021 at 12:09 pm

MBH is a registered user.

When the FAA set up the three new arrival routes over Palo Alto, the airline noise increased dramatically. Before the changes, the turns into the approach routes/landing patterns that go up the Bay were considerably farther south, and went up the Bay, not over the cities. Those turns were also done at a higher altitude. The turns farther North are done at lower altitudes over the city and increased the noise, especially as the planes throttled down. In addition, the number of planes went up to about 1 every 60 to 90 seconds during the day. And the over-flights start much earlier in the morning and go on into the night - it is LOUD!! Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly sympathize with the cities to the north which are impacted by the take off patterns. Personally I think the airport should not be allowed to expand, if it has that in mind. There is such a thing as quality of life.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 3, 2021 at 1:14 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Yes, congratulations to Sky Posse for all this hard work over the last 20 years.


Posted by Stepheny
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 3, 2021 at 2:26 pm

Stepheny is a registered user.

Thanks to Sky Posse's dedicated and innovative organizers for not giving up. I hope having a seat at the table results in positive change in the air routes. We shouldn't have to keep our windows closed and the air conditioner on to get peace and quiet.


Posted by Eli P
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 3, 2021 at 3:23 pm

Eli P is a registered user.

The pictures in this article are misleading. The airplane noise is caused by big jets landing at SFO but many of them make the turn over Palo Alto. The tiny propeller airplanes make noise only close to the Palo Alto airport. There are noise abatement procedures while flying over Palo Alto.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 3, 2021 at 3:29 pm

Resident is a registered user.

Thanks to Sky Posse, city staff, and Lydia Kou for their persistence in getting to this point.


Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 3, 2021 at 6:38 pm

YP is a registered user.

@Eli P

ahh... since you don't live near 101 and Embarcadero you don't realize in our neighborhood that small planes from PAO are much louder than those going to SFO. And those flights aren't critical for our economy. Essentially a bunch of wealthy pilots practicing takeoff/landings and doing circles over our neighborhood.


Posted by Lucille Manning
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 5, 2021 at 10:33 am

Lucille Manning is a registered user.

My late husband flew combat helicopters in Viet Nam and once mentioned that these aircraft-related noise complaints border on the trivial.


Posted by LeAnne Menendez
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 5, 2021 at 1:28 pm

LeAnne Menendez is a registered user.

My husband also served in Viet Nam as a forward observer for the artillery.

Artillery rounds + overhead Huey gunships firing Gatling Guns and cannons along with their jet motors roaring make these Palo Alto Airport noise complaints petty.

Just ask any former infantryman or Vietnamese refuge.


Posted by Neal
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 6, 2021 at 6:37 am

Neal is a registered user.

I'm happy for those who think constant airplane noise is trivial and petty. But it's not trivial and petty to thousands of others. Please don't casually dismiss our concerns. Noise pollution is a health hazard and affects each individual differently.


Posted by Raul Morales
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2021 at 7:11 am

Raul Morales is a registered user.

The constant sound of a gas-powered leafblower or a roadside jackhammer is far more annoying and irritating than a passing overhead plane.

At least the plane is moving quickly and the sound will soon be gone.

You do not have the same latitude with gardeners who seem to enjoy operating their leaf blowers or road crews working nearby.


Posted by Cassandra Edwards
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 6, 2021 at 8:37 am

Cassandra Edwards is a registered user.

For many of the complainers, how many
of you were here FIRST...in other words PRIOR to the Palo Alto Airport or SFO being built?

If not, perhaps you knew what you were getting into when you purchased your home and while air traffic has increased, this is to be expected as times change. We are not living in Hooterville.

The only ones with a legitimate gripe (if any) are the dwindling old-timers who have personally witnessed and experienced the modernization of Santa Clara Valley.

Late arrivals need not apply.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 6, 2021 at 8:55 am

Online Name is a registered user.

What odd "logic" those supporting airport noise are displaying. Perhaps they have some helpful hints on how to quiet crying babies woken up and help their sleep-deprived young parents.

Or perhaps they sleep all day and aren't awakened by the flights that start at 11PM and roar across our homes every 30 minutes until dawn as they did pre-Covid.


Posted by Cassandra Edwards
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 6, 2021 at 9:06 am

Cassandra Edwards is a registered user.

It has nothing to do with supporting airport noise...it is about adapting.

When you alter an environment in accordance with modern times, it will be very difficult to go back to a more quiet and rustic habitat.

Add population growth into the equation and there is no going back....at best, perhaps an incentive to relocate to a time and place where none of these perceived irritants currently exist.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 6, 2021 at 10:15 am

Online Name is a registered user.

We don't have to have ridiculous population growth -- offices and residents -- in the middle of an unprecedented drought and when people are trying to ESCAPE congestion here WHILE being told to cutback on water use when we ALREADY conserve more than required. Recall that when we DO conserve, Palo Alto Utilities still raises water rates, telling us we conserved TOO MUCH as they've done whenever they raise rates.

Re airplane noise, there's a nice big bay east of Palo Alto which is where the planes flew before clueless bureaucrats CHANGED the flight path within the last few decades when most of us were already alive (to respond to your "logic").

Why should we have to adapt to stupidity / lack of attention to details and why should it take 20 years to even get representation on a panel?


Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2021 at 11:40 am

Jennifer is a registered user.

The people complaining about airplane noise are the same people who move next to a school and complain about traffic and children. If any noise bothers you, close your windows. It leads to peace of mind, and it's a good reminder that we don't live in a perfect world, nor does the world revolve around you. If you want a noise free environment move out to the middle of nowhere.

Don't sweat the small stuff. It's something we all struggle with, but learning to focus on things that are really important is a healthier way to live. It's also less draining for those around you.

Learning to adapt is a mindset that anyone can accomplish. Go with the flow and roll with the punches. Some people are happier than others...


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 6, 2021 at 11:47 am

Online Name is a registered user.

@Jennifer from Another Community, I hope you're not experiencing what we in Palo Alto are. When I bought the house, it wasn't under an airline path where low-flying planes started shaking the house in the middle of the night; that's only a relatively RECENT problem from bureacrats incapable solving problems.

Why are you defending incompetence? Can't you find the Bay on a map? That's where the planes USED TO FLY.

Where do YOU live and how long have YOU lived there that you feel qualified to preach to the rest of us on OUR local issues.


Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2021 at 12:03 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

Online Name -- I've spent most of my childhood and adult life in PALO ALTO. My husband and I still own our home in PALO ALTO. We're Palo Alto taxpayers. I've heard the planes in Palo Alto, and I closed my window. It was no big deal.

My hometown is San Diego. We moved to Palo Alto when I was seven. The planes fly so low in San Diego I got used to it as a kid. It was no big deal to me, my three siblings or my parents.

I'm not defending incompetence. I'm defending LOGIC. Planes fly. Get over it. None of my friends and family in Palo Alto (A LOT OF PEOPLE) are bothered by the noise. They're happy people. If you don't want to deal with planes, don't move to a city with an airport or anywhere near a major airport.

You sound very unhappy (on every thread), and I wish you well.

To answer your question (not that I owe you any explanation) we live in Contra Costa County.

Have a nice day...


Posted by JR McDugan
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 6, 2021 at 12:19 pm

JR McDugan is a registered user.

I'm glad that certain people aren't bothered by the airplane noise, good for you. Meanwhile your neighbors can't sleep because of backhanded deals by SFO to export noise from their airport two counties over.

SFO is in the city and county of San Francisco. It's completely reasonable to insist that all planes taking off or leaving from SFO stay in San Francisco airspace (or over the Pacific Ocean) until they reach 10,000 feet. There is no reason for a plane landing in the city and county of San Francisco to fly low over Palo Alto.


Posted by Bobby Becerra
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2021 at 1:56 pm

Bobby Becerra is a registered user.

Except for its local junior college and St. Mary's in Moraga, Contra Costa County is not exactly a college oriented county which might explain its conservative leanings.

Danville was a farming town back in the day and a former stage coach stop.

And the county seat Martinez is a hick town along the Carquinez Strait that never evolved past the 1920s.

It gets hot during the summer in CCC too...best to just stay on 880 and keep going as there is nothing worth checking out over there and Mt. Diablo can be easily seen by the road.


Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 6, 2021 at 11:17 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

"For many of the complainers, how many of you were here FIRST...in other words PRIOR to the Palo Alto Airport or SFO being built?"

I'm glad you brought that angle up. Most of us were here before the FAA rerouted noisy airplanes over our homes, so I'm pleased you support our efforts to put them back where they were when we bought our homes. Thank you muchly.


Posted by Neal
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 7, 2021 at 6:37 am

Neal is a registered user.

I was born in the old Palo Alto hospital and I haven't left. I was here way before the use of commercial jets.


Posted by Bill Chambers
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 7, 2021 at 10:20 am

Bill Chambers is a registered user.

Times change...learn to adjust.

75-80 years ago, some PA residents used to complain about the old Southern Pacific locomotives that traveled along Alma.

The engines may have switched to quieter diesels but the trains never went away.

The only way the skies will return to a quieter state is if people fly by blimp and that is not going to happen.

At bat...the seasonal complaints about Shoreline Amphitheater once it reopens.


Posted by Richard Geharty
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 7, 2021 at 11:44 am

Richard Geharty is a registered user.

Many Palo Alto residents have become over-sensititized to just about everything.

They would have made lousy pioneers.


Posted by need to fly less
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2021 at 12:59 pm

need to fly less is a registered user.

@Bill and Richard,

The science is that people do not "adapt" or become less "sensitized" to noise. At continuous and elevated levels, noise causes real health harm.

Jets at lower altitudes drop partially burnt jet fuel.

Social justice communities are especially vulnerable to the harms of both noise and air pollution. So are kids, asthma levels and noise interferes with learning and interferes with concentration.

Airports don't have to bother with any of the costs of noise. They are heavily subsidized, so are the airlines. The cities that "own" these airports take in all the profits and don't bother with climate issues either.

They can afford to put the planes higher and over the bay.


Posted by Stepheny
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 7, 2021 at 5:14 pm

Stepheny is a registered user.

This isn't about who can tough out bad things or taking deep breaths to meditate. This is a problem which can be fixed by simply tweaking the landing pattern into SFO. The noise is a problem for those of us who live in the flight corridor, usually between Middlefield and #101.

Let's fix it and stop the grousing.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 7, 2021 at 5:31 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

The problem being experienced is the result of low flying planes. That complaint is universal over the whole country. Baltimore - same issues. It is the result of the FAA changing the rules on the altitude of the planes. What is even weirder is that the planes are lower here because they are in the incoming downslope coming over the mountains, make their turn up to SFO - then gain some altitude to go over the bridges and stage for their incoming run into the SFO. Creating the turn back here is the result of the increase in air traffic in which the planes have to jockey for the right to land - a sequence of planes in a planned order.

There is an obvious correction to this problem - increase the altitude of the planes over the lower bay area.

Lucinda's entry has nothing to do with the topic of this blog. Neither does Bobbies entry. What is the point of making entries in blogs that have nothing to to do with the topic.


Posted by Rob Johnson/Captain
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2021 at 6:25 pm

Rob Johnson/Captain is a registered user.

> increase the altitude of the planes over the lower bay area.

Obviously you haven't flown much.

What goes up must come down and even if approach altitudes were increased, upon descent the plane still needs to hover at lower altitudes in order to eventually land.

Unless you believe in the kamikaze approach to aircraft landings.

FYI...the airlines have not yet adopted verticle landing craft as only the military has those flight options.


Posted by need to fly less
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2021 at 7:17 pm

need to fly less is a registered user.

@Captain,

"What goes up must come down and even if approach altitudes were increased, upon descent the plane still needs to hover at lower altitudes in order to eventually land."

Planes would be better hovering over water instead of over people. But I suppose you know that Nextgen is not working and the stories that planes will glide efficiently and quietly with new "technology" are false.

Why would it matter to you Captain, if there were better routes and actual air traffic management, instead of last minute decisions or vectoring that burn more fuel over people and noisier descents.

And increasingly it seems pilots are not being trusted to fly planes and why they need even more technology, but no sign that this is better or safer.


Posted by Clem McDaniels
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2021 at 7:47 pm

Clem McDaniels is a registered user.

Upon descent and while in a holding pattern, planes are often required to circle in a broad loop.

And it is not just jetliners and private aircraft...if you have ever watched The Blue Angels perform, they will often re-form 25-30 miles away from the demonstration site.

Lastly, the folks in the East Bay might resent having even more aircraft circling overhead due to complaints emanating out of Palo Alto.

Just share the noise and the inconveniences as nothing lasts forever.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 8, 2021 at 10:36 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Clem - have you noticed that there is both a local airport - Hayward Executive Airport and Oakland international airport in the east bay? Oakland airport is set to expand their facilities and number of planes landing there. The flights from Hawaii to Oakland cross over PA. There are also planes working the San Jose Airport that take off and cross over going to the northwest and east coast.

"Over the Bay" is not over the Oakland Airport incoming and outgoing planes. The East Bay has it's own problems. Check out a flight tracker tool to see where the planes are going.

Captain - the first round of planes is generally very high. Then there is a second round of planes that is very low. That is the wait and stage area that is now over residential houses vs the bay. We all know that. Possibly there needs to be more control tower activity so the planes are staging over the ocean waiting to get their clearance. But you all need to meet a time for landing to meet your goals.


Posted by Merilee Steinman
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 8, 2021 at 11:43 am

Merilee Steinman is a registered user.

As a former and original flight attendant on an old Ford Tri-Motor passenger plane during the late 1930's all I can say is that many people today are weenies when it comes to dealing with sound Dbs.

No wonder the U.S. is falling by the wayside to other countries....American citizens are getting too soft and lazy.


Posted by need to fly less
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2021 at 3:00 pm

need to fly less is a registered user.

@Merilee

"As a former and original flight attendant on an old Ford Tri-Motor passenger plane during the late 1930's.."

The noise and air quality inside an airplane is very different than jets descending, grinding, or howling to land at an airport.

But your POV is understandable because the noise policies of the 30's are still in place today! Current policy is pretty much a subjective concept that people are weenies and the flying polluting machines are precious.

Times have changed and getting sprayed with jet fuel residue has a cost, not just to weenies.


Posted by Dusty Pierce
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 8, 2021 at 6:44 pm

Dusty Pierce is a registered user.

Back in the day, flight attendants also had to be RNs in the event of an emergency.

Having grown up near Pensacola, FL (as a Navy brat) all I can say is you ain't heard nothing yet until you hear fighter planes on practice manuevers and occasionally breaking the sound barrier.

What's with these Palo Alto residents who complain about Shoreline and overhead planes?

This isn't exactly Apocalypse Now.


Posted by Scotty
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 9, 2021 at 12:32 pm

Scotty is a registered user.

@Lucinda-- this article is about airplane noise dear.... Not sure why PA Online editors are allowing your race baiting comments. Best to stay on point.


Posted by Luwanda Jeffries
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 9, 2021 at 4:18 pm

Luwanda Jeffries is a registered user.

We hear airplanes all day and PA residents are complaining about sporadic flyovers?

It must be nice to have no other worries or concerns in life.


Posted by Shawonda Jefferson
a resident of another community
on Jun 10, 2021 at 12:09 pm

Shawonda Jefferson is a registered user.

Life can often become even more trivial with growing affluence and disposable income.

Unlike many African Americans who continue to struggle for equality, most white people can simply get by on their skin color regardless of any inherent character, education, intelligence, or personal willpower.



Posted by need to fly less
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2021 at 12:28 pm

need to fly less is a registered user.

@Luwanda and Shawonda,

You may be interested in knowing that the Federal Aviation Administration used the same zip code that is shared by EPA and PA - zip code 94303 to obfuscate environmental assessment in 2014 that would give more rights to address and potentially mitigate the intense air traffic in East Palo Alto.

While you may not be affected, people who suffer and there are many in EPA are being left out of potential mitigations.

You can learn more about the 1994 Executive Order “Federal Actions to Address
Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations.”


Web Link.

"Executive Order (E.O.) 12898 - Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations - was issued by President William J. Clinton in 1994. Its purpose is to focus federal attention on the environmental and human health effects of federal actions on minority and low-income populations with the goal of achieving environmental protection for all communities.


Posted by Efren Delgado
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 10, 2021 at 5:35 pm

Efren Delgado is a registered user.

> Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations - was issued by President William J. Clinton in 1994.

So how far have we actually come since 1994... that's roughly 27 years ago.

Does Palo Alto get first priority in this complaint because it's residents are mostly white and well-to-do?

We have fireworks and street racing noise going on all of the time so a airplane noise is considered a trivial matter.

Time for some Palo Altans to learn how to toughen up.


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 11, 2021 at 8:56 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Efren - fireworks and street racing are illegal now. Time for the city of EPA to get a grip on their city. As to street racing in EPA - do not see where that could happen. The streets are very narrow and under construction - so pavement is chewed up. All of the main streets are getting dividers to control the flow. EPA is in a big redevelopment phase now and is looking good. Efron - get on board with your city to make it beautiful.


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