San Fernando Valley residents demand FAA action over helicopter noise


Hundreds of people gathered at a public meeting in Sherman Oaks Monday to speak to the Federal Aviation Administration about helicopters flying over Southern California.

"Our members do not trust voluntary action. We need enforceable, legal restrictions right now," said Bob Anderson of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association.

One resident said he counted more than 50 flights over his neighborhood in one day. Another said the helicopters fly too low and too frequently, disturbing the peace.

During the meeting, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky played a recording from a Hollywood Bowl concert last week that was interrupted by a chopper.

Rep. Howard Berman (D- Van Nuys) organized Monday's meeting. During Carmaggedon last year, the near constant chopper traffic had his office flooded with calls.

"I checked, and we found that there are essentially hardly any FAA regulations governing helicopter traffic," said Berman.

The meeting is a first step in possibly adding those regulations. Some residents said they are frustrated with police helicopters, which often fly the lowest. Others are upset with tourist helicopters and media choppers.

"I would ask the media and the media producers to consider flying higher and use their long zoom lens," said one Glendale resident.

KABC-TV President and General Manager Arnold J. Kleiner was the only local TV executive to speak at the meeting. He said AIR7 HD always flies significantly above police choppers.

"If you can't see that it's Channel 7, it's because we're so high," said Kleiner.

Commander Chuck Street, who has given traffic reports from helicopters in Los Angeles for 28 years, said he's worried about "knee-jerk legislation."

The FAA said it will meet with local pilots and helicopter companies in the next month. It wants to try some kind of compromise before putting out mandatory regulations.

"The first effort that we will put in place is to try to cooperate with the public and the industry," said Bill Withycombe with the FAA.

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