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Airport: Noise and Hazards of Low-Flying Planes

August 14, 1994

I am writing to notify you of a continuing hazardous condition that exists in our neighborhood of Cheviot Hills in West Los Angeles which resulted from changes made by the Santa Monica Airport.

The worst of this hazard began just after the Northridge earthquake of January, 1994. Planes that used to never fly over our neighborhood, which is about three miles away from the airport, are now flying at such a low level that they are noisy and dangerous, as they do not have sufficient altitude to glide into the airport in case of a loss of power.

Where we used to never hear a plane except off in the distance, we now have daily occurrences of low-flying aircraft, both landing and taking off, some only 100 feet above our houses. Pilots of jets, World War II-vintage craft, training DC-3s, experimental aircraft and other private and rented planes have always been able to begin their approach at any level they deem safe, but the height of the Century City buildings used to keep them higher and farther north over Pico. At the elevations they are now, they must rely on noisy and unreliable engine power rather than "glide" in order to avoid crashing into our homes.

When our homeowner groups have asked for help or information, the Santa Monica Airport has told us that the problem is the responsibility of the FAA. The FAA has told us that it is the responsibility of the Santa Monica Airport. In my opinion, the denial of assistance from the FAA, Santa Monica Airport and jet owners, or even an admission that there is a problem over our neighborhood, is a result of their protection of their own interests. Because we are residents of Los Angeles and not Santa Monica, perhaps they feel that they owe us no consideration.

Though they say that there have been no changes that they have made which have affected our neighborhood, they neglected to mention the other changes that they recently admitted because of complaints made by politicians and other residents.

For example, planes are no longer directed to fly over the Hollywood Bowl, nor are they directed to enter the approach or turning pattern over the Pacific Palisades, most of Beverlywood, the marina and Fox Studios/Century City. They now direct these planes to report in over the Santa Monica and San Diego Freeway interchange, which causes all of these to enter the approach pattern over Cheviot Hills.

The airport manager noted that there have been three recent airplane accidents and even deaths involving planes using the Santa Monica Airport. Hopefully, there will be no other deaths that could have been prevented if the planes had been moved higher and into a wider pattern as there was before. Unfortunately for us homeowners, we can't lower our houses.

JEFF FELZ

Cheviot Hills

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