Torrance residents who live under the flight pattern of the city's municipal airport have successfully lobbied the City Council to extend the hours of the airport's takeoff curfew.
Council members voted unanimously to ban takeoffs after 10 p.m. and before 7 a.m. on weekdays and before 8 a.m. on weekends and holidays. Previously, the city had banned departures between 11 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. on any day. Landings may take place at any time.
"It takes just one loud noise over your home to wake you up," Mayor Katy Geissert said. There are "far more people . . . are affected by that" than there are those pilots and members of the airport community who will be affected by the curfew change, she said.
Pilots who fly certain quieter aircraft may apply for special permits that allow takeoffs during the curfew in "life or death" emergencies and for pressing business needs.
The council decision came despite an Airport Commission recommendation against any change and recommendations by the Transportation Department and Building and Safety Department for more lenient action.
Airport commissioners voted 4 to 2 in June not to change the curfew. The city's Transportation Department had recommended extending the morning curfew from 6:30 a.m. to 7 a.m., whereas Building and Safety officials recommended the 11 p.m. to 10 p.m. change. The two departments later compromised to recommend a 7 a.m. weekday and 8 a.m. weekend curfew, leaving the night curfew time unchanged.
Pilots and business owners at the airport complained that the tighter rules would sap the vitality of an already weak airport.
"Even though it doesn't seem like much for the airport people to give up, it really is. The airport already is on the skids," said Ted Stinis, spokesman for the Torrance Area Pilots Assn. "We are in a precarious situation. Don't push us over the edge of viability."
After listening to a number of residents complain about the disruptions caused by late night and early morning plane flights, council members agreed that stricter measures were needed to protect the neighborhoods surrounding the airport.
The council noted that the new rules will bring Torrance Municipal Airport's curfew rules in line with those in use at other airports in the area, including Santa Monica, Van Nuys and John Wayne airports.