Thursday, February 09, 2012

Airport Noise and Other Issues - Santa Monica and Anchorage

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities invited me to their email list sometime last year and I get periodic announcements.  So when I see their articles in other media, I know where they come from.

Last week I got an meeting announcement about Noise for Feb. 29.  We won't be back yet, but I hope someone goes.

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport Announces
Public Meeting for Part 150 Study Update

Anchorage, AK – Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport will hold a public information meeting on Wednesday, February 29, 2012 to kick-off the Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 150 Noise Compatibility Study Update. The meeting is open to the public and will be held at 6:00 p.m. at the Spenard Community Recreation Center in the Multi-Purpose Room located at 2020 W. 48th Avenue, Anchorage, AK 99517.
The purpose of this meeting is to inform interested parties about the purpose of the Part 150 Study Update and to outline the general study process. Airport staff and the consultant team will be available to listen to citizen comments and answer questions about the study.
Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport has begun the voluntary process of preparing an update to the Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 150 Noise Compatibility Study to examine the current and future noise effects caused by aircraft operations at the airport. The goal of this study is to work with surrounding communities, aviation experts, and stakeholders to establish a balanced, cost-effective and comprehensive Noise Compatibility Program to reduce the number of people affected by aircraft noise.
This is the first of several public meetings that will be held throughout the course of the study. Public and stakeholder coordination is an important portion of the study, and the airport is interested to hear the public’s opinions and concerns on these important issues.
 For additional information please visit:
 Expect much to happen?  Look at their words:
  • listen to citizens (if it's not too noisy to hear you, but there is nothing about doing anything with what citizens say.  Do they really care or are they doing it because they have to?)
  • answer questions about the study (but not about noise itself)
  • voluntary process of updating (but the FAQ's on their website has this sentence buried in it:

    "The Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is updating their previous Part 150 Noise Compatibility Study because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that the Airport have current Noise Exposure Maps to receive federal funding for noise mitigation measures."
  • to establish a balanced, cost-effective and comprehensive Noise Compatibility Program to reduce the number of people affected by aircraft noise.  (Get a bunch of them in a room and off them - ok I'm being silly here.  But I suspect airport noise affects more than just people.  It's an area - sound impacts - that science is just beginning to look at.   But unless airplanes get quieter, I'm not holding my breath that the cost-effective part won't mean that not much will happen.)

The documents section of the linked site gives us an agenda:

Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport Initial
Public Meeting for Part 150 Study Update

February 29, 2012
Time:  6:00 p.m.
Location:  Spenard Community Recreation Center – Multi-Purpose Room

  • Introductions 
    • Study Team
    • Who is Involved?
  • Brief Explanation of FAR Part 150 and the Study
    • What is a Part 150 Study? 
    • Background on the Previous Part 150 Study 
    • Why Update Study?
    • Relationship to FAR Part 161 
    • Study Process
  • Description of Noise Metrics – DNL, SEL, Ldn, Time Above, etc.
  • Discussion on Potential Noise Monitoring Sites
  • Questions/Comments

Santa Monica

And after I got the email about the Anchorage Airport, my mom got this flyer in her mail from CASMAT (Community Against SM Airport Traffic).  This is a somewhat different breed of airport.  It's a very busy private airport surrounded by residential neighborhoods.  The airport's been here longer than most of the houses.  On the other hand, jets weren't flying out of the airport when most of the houses were built.  On the border of Santa Monica and Los Angeles, it's probably more valuable as real estate than as an airport.  But if it closed, where would Jerry Seinfeld keep his planes?

Anyway, the flyer is inviting people to attend "Airport Visioning" Workshops and then the Airport Commission's workshop on March 26. 

The airport site (link to airport site which I'm guessing will change over time) lists several reports.  The report from the city staff - offered by the City Manager, Rod Gould, gives a long history of the airport from its start in 1917 through today.  Then it talks about legal issues, probably the crux of what is happening.
Santa Monica's Airport has been the subject of many legal disputes between the City and Airport users, Airport neighbors, or Airport businesses. However it is the legal disputes between the City and the FAA that have proven to be the most difficult.    The most recent example is the eight year legal battle over the City's Aircraft Conformance Program and the corresponding ordinance banning Category C&D aircraft. This dispute cost the City well over $1,000,000 and the C & D ban was struck down.

Over the course of that dispute, the FAA explained its legal position relative to the City's obligations in its briefs filed with federal appellate courts. Thus, on the issue of Airport closure, the FAA has made it very clear that it does and will take the position that the City cannot close the Airport in 2015 because the Instrument of Transfer, executed after the conclusion of World War II in 1948, obligates the City to operate its Airport in perpetuity. Additionally, the FAA takes the position that the City accepted federal grant funds in 2003 and is thus required by federal law to operate the Airport for at least 20 years thereafter, or until 2023.
Then it goes on to list various options offered by some of the consultants.  Those reports are available too, but the staff report is the only one with substance.

Image of Santa Monica Airport from SMO fact sheet  North on Top

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