Monday, September 28, 2015

County tackles noise at San Carlos Airport (KSQL), California

The region’s booming economy has led to a significant increase of air traffic at the county-owned San Carlos Airport which in turn has led to residents complaining about all the extra noise it is creating.

Last week, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors formed a subcommittee to address air traffic impacts at the airport.

It is comprised of supervisors Don Horsley and Warren Slocum, whose districts are most impacted by the airport, to assess and develop solutions to address the impact of increased air traffic.

Most of the noise comes from Surf Air planes and most of the complaints come from Atherton residents.

North Fair Oaks, however, is also impacted by the frequency of Surf Air planes flying to San Carlos, Supervisor Warren Slocum said Wednesday.

The early morning and late-night flights generate the most noise complaints, Slocum said.

In just a few years, the members-only airline has increased its number of flights from three to 30 a day, Slocum said about Surf Air.

Slocum has listened to the complaints for years but said now the county may have a little more clout when it comes to dealing with the Federal Aviation Administration by forming the subcommittee.

The FAA governs the flight paths and elevations planes must follow when departing and flying into San Carlos.

Residents in the southern part of the county, however, say those flight paths are right over their homes and create lots of unwanted noise.

On Sept. 11, a letter from the Atherton City Council to the City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County blasted local officials for not addressing the noise from Surf Air.

“The town has ... petitioned, pleaded and implored the Federal Aviation Administration, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, San Carlos Airport Operations and aviation carriers themselves (Surf Air) to address a devastating disconnect between the San Carlos Airport Operations and the health, safety and welfare of the impacted communities,” the letter states.

C/CAG just released a draft Airport Land Use Compatibility Plan for the airport for public comment. The plan may impact the airport’s operations.

The letter continues: “These pleas have been largely ignored as the overflights by Surf Air have not only become noisier but have increased in frequency. By failing to address these growing concerns the Airport Land Use Commission, the county, San Carlos Airport Operations and the FAA have been derelict in their duty of protecting that health, safety and welfare instead placing the expansion desires of commercial aviation ahead of the protection of its communities. This is unacceptable and must be remedied.”

And with Surf Air’s growth, it is now flying to more destinations in the state and Las Vegas as its membership has grown to at least 1,400. It also has a waiting list of about 600. Members pay $1,000 to sign up for the service and $1,750 a month to fly as often as they like.

Slocum said the first step the subcommittee will take is to meet with FAA officials to try and solve the noise problem.

The FAA has also expressed concerns about the adverse effects to ground safety with the higher volume of flights, according to a report by Horsley to the Board of Supervisors.


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