Sky Posse Palo Alto
Dear Friends,


It’s frustratingly 565 days since the recommendations of the Select Committee were sent to the FAA Administrator . The Interim updates from FAA have not given much to be able to measure success with (we still have too many planes, too low, and too loud!), but there are developments about a new Santa Clara/Santa Cruz Roundtable, a continuing body to the Select Committee.

As you may recall, from our update at the conclusion of the Select Committee, it was noted in the Chair's transmittal letter that the committee did not “rank order” their recommendations . We however advocated with Rep Eshoo and FAA, for the following as HIGH priorities,

  • Assess alternative waypoints to reduce Menlo concentration - including an approach for southern arrivals to use the full length of the Bay (Select Committee recommendation 2.5R5, page 13)
  • Eliminate low altitude night flights (R 2.4 page 12)
  • Create the successor organization to the Select Committee (R 3.1, page 23)

For the successor organization to the Select Committee to be useful, we need for there to be 1) metrics "beyond DNL," and 2) industry participants at the table. So far, it has been communities meeting with FAA; industry meeting with FAA; long months in between FAA responding. It would be best for all parties to be at the table, working together in a more dynamic manner.

The new roundtable will likely not be up and running until the Fall, at the earliest. In the meantime, FAA (and airlines) continually make changes to procedures and we are concerned that they are developing designs without adequate noise impacts assessments or adequate community engagement.

Legal challenges are the only resort when FAA takes actions without considering environmental concerns - see Update below on discussions with City about litigation.
The New Roundtable
The Board of the Cities Association of Santa Clara County voted on Thursday to support “the formation of an intergovernmental partnership between the cities and counties of Santa Clara And San Cruz Counties, Norman Y. Minéta San Jose International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, and the FAA that will serve as a permanent aircraft noise mitigation entity.” Each City is required to pass a resolution to join. The packet with all relevant documents is here .

The status quo with FAA and Roundtables has been that with little or no information about the real conditions on the ground, FAA proceeds to either implement changes without any noise assessments, or it issues records of decision (ROD) which state "The Proposed Action, when added to other past, present or reasonably foreseeable future actions is not expected to cause significant impacts “

We must insist for the scope of the new Roundtable to emphasize noise assessment, employing supplemental metrics and to ensure that FAA carries out robust environmental reviews. This is the highest priority. It is unacceptable to get little or no information from FAA about real conditions on the ground, and for FAA to then state a Proposed Action is not expected to cause significant impacts.

Additionally, we want to see the FAA's new initiative for Community Involvement to be implemented with FAA's Air Traffic Organization Community Involvement Plan which wisely point out the following:

“Community expectations have grown with regard to government transparency, responsiveness, and inclusivity.” 
San Jose South Flow Ad Hoc Committee
On May 18th, the Committee held their last meeting and adopted their Final recommendations , which the report summarizes as follows:

  • 􏰀Fly more dispersed Western approach
  • Explore other approaches
  • Modify procedures to reduce the ground noise generated by aircraft
  • Implement FAA Policy Changes;Avoid noisy flight maneuvers
  • Implement noise management measures at SJC
  • Explore single regional noise reporting system.

According to the report (page 9), dispersion is defined by each participating city, raising concerns about how the various definitions of dispersion will be accomodated. Moreover, north of San Jose and south of SFO, SJC South Flow must fly below SFO traffic, so in addition to dispersion, altitudes will matter greatly to cities like Palo Alto and East Palo Alto. Follow up on SJC South Flow is due to happen with the new roundtable which is very good because a system wide approach is needed to identify regional solutions.

To the surprise of the Committee, a new SJC route was discovered to have been designed during the course of the SJC Committee meetings. The route evolved without community input or an environmental review that we are aware of. The Committee's exasperation about this "stealth" procedure was communicated to FAA in a joint letter from Palo Alto, Los Altos, and Mountain View .

City of Palo Alto
Thanks to all who reached out to the City to follow up on the SERFR 3 CATEX (ahead of the deadline to file a petition for review which expired at the end of May), the City received considerable citizen input on this item. As the City Attorney reported at the May 7th Council meeting, the City’s position was to not litigate “at this time” and SERFR 3 CATEX was thus not challenged. For future FAA actions, we expect that Council's vote to have staff bring back a plan for a litigation strategy and investigate the best approach for filing timely lawsuits will help.

Although we are pleased the City is requiring evaluation of future FAA actions, it remains our view​ that there were grounds for filing a Petition for Review , based on FAA's use of a Categorical Exemption (CATEX) that ignored the mandate to document a measurable reduction in noise impacts for SERFR 3.

Without adequate impact assessments, FAA can keep piling on impacts - calling them findings of no significance. The City thus needs to either appeal promptly on inadequate reviews or speak up and advocate vigorously to ensure that FAA does robust reviews.

Report intrusive jet noise!

Use any of these methods: 

SFO PHONE  650.821.4736 /Toll free  877.206.8290 .
SFO traffic:  click here for the link
SJC traffic: click her for the link
Other airports : click here for more info

Spread the Word!
Share Sky Posse updates and this  LINK with your neighbors to join the efforts to reduce jet noise. 

Thank you!

Sky Posse Palo Alto