CALL TO ACTION:
Come to City Hall Chambers on Monday April 9th!
At 5:00 pm,
at 9:30 pm. Airplane noise items are scheduled at two separate times on the Agenda:
Closed Session CONFERENCE WITH CITY ATTORNEY-POTENTIAL LITIGATION Subject: Noise and Other Impacts Arising From Management of Aircraft in the Northern California Airspace Authority: Potential Initiation of Litigation Under Government Code Section 54956.9(d)(4) (One Potential Case, as Plaintiff)”
Members of the public may speak to the Closed Session item(s); three minutes per speaker.
“Policy and Services Committee and Staff Recommendations on Next Steps Related to Airplane Noise.”
Please show on Monday to support our speakers!
If you are unable to attend, write to Council members a few comments on the items that follow:
PACC Contact info:
Negative impacts brought about since 2014 need to be corrected:
Palo Alto City Council must bring attention to the unanimous Select Committee recommendations (crafted together with FAA) to assess alternatives to address the problematic Menlo waypoint and vicinity; including to assess new waypoints to use the Bay for SFO arrivals, and recommendations to design new procedures to correct the severe noise problems brought about since 2014.
Adequate environmental reviews are imperative:
FAA mandated environmental reviews are meant to consider modeled noise increases/decreases in communities before FAA takes airspace actions which can impact the natural and human environment. When these analysis are done without the right tools and with inadequate information, it results in FAA documenting determinations such as "no impact," which then allows FAA to look no further at the impacts of their actions, or to consider alternatives to minimize negative impacts. The Select Committee was convened to address the problems with FAA’s actions and flawed environmental review that took Palo Alto and neighbors by surprise in 2014, yet FAA appears to continue to “surprise” the public by taking actions without adequate environmental assessments (see below).
Inadequate analysis which fail to consider impacts on the City’s environment, schools, neighborhoods, natural habitats, health and the quality of life of its citizens must be taken up Palo Alto City Council (whose pledge is to defend Palo Alto), and Council actions to ensure compliance with environmental statutes is critical.
Deadlines to file petitions for review cannot be missed:
victory was recently handed to FAA
when Georgetown was deprived of having the courts look at the merits of their case due to missing the
60 day deadline to file a petition for review
. An excerpt from the court’s opinion, written by Judge Tatel:
- “The FAA’s efforts to inform the residents of Georgetown about the evaluation of the D.C. Metroplex were hardly a model of sound agency practice. But neither the FAA’s stumbles nor those of its contractor excuse Georgetown’s failure to timely file a petition for review given that the agency provided adequate notice of the EA process and never indicated that it might change its position. Filing deadlines, replete throughout the United States Code, promote prompt and final judicial review of agency decisions and ensure that agencies and affected parties can proceed free from the uncertainty that an action may be undone at any time”
The court’s opinion puts on notice any city that fails to meet a deadline for filing a petition for review or choosing not to challenge the FAA in a timely manner.
FAA the ability to proceed "free from the uncertainty that an action may be undone at any time" OR "free from the uncertainty that prior actions can be questioned."
Last week FAA
to various news outlets in the Bay Area about SERFR 3, a procedure published on March 29th (the 60 day clock started on this date for SERFR 3).
To publish SERFR 3, FAA chose to apply a Categorical Exclusion.
A three page Memo, starting on page five of
basically states that there is nothing to register, in terms of environmental impacts. SEFR3, and various actions have obvious negative impacts unresolved from the 2014 actions such as concentration of impacts, and low altitudes. T
o determine the potential for noise impacts (
and to arrive at their CATEX decision), FAA did not do the environmental analysis with FAA’s
mandated AEDT tool
Instead, FAA used a “MITRE Guidance noise screening Lateral Movement Test (LAT Test).” Future actions will use this basis (a memo) for future determinations, and the public still has no information about what the "MITRE
Guidance" test is or what inputs or criteria were used. The Mitre test is not mentioned in Order
which guides FAA environmental reviews.
In our communication last month, we shared FAA’s announced plan to involve communities in PBN procedures design, which has specific steps to improve the way the public is kept informed and engaged.
Clearly there is a disconnect between what FAA is communicating about PBN community involvement (to have communities engaged early on before changes are made) to what is happening with the various and impending actions affecting Palo Alto and neighbors
. FAA has the brief 60 day deadline to their advantage; keeping affected people busy talking in forums like roundtables and committees while running out the clock seems to work best for FAA but not so for the affected public. Congressional representatives
wrote to FAA
to request an update on FAA’s Initiative to address noise concerns, and to ask about environmental review and to respond by March 15th but FAA did not respond by the requested deadline. An industry journal
Aviation Noise Report
has reported that they reached out to FAA to ask about the Bay Area situation, and FAA responded (to ANR) stating that they “expect to provide an update soon.”
On Monday April 9th, we need Palo Alto City Council to be focused and clear that COUNCIL must lead on taking on this problem with FAA, and with officials at all levels of government.