2016-10-21: Neighbors blast plane noise: San Carlos residents complain about takeoffs

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The Daily Journal
By Bill Silverfarb
PUBLISHED: October 21, 2016

Surf Air planes may be making less noise as they approach the San Carlos Airport but nearby neighbors are now saying the noise has become unbearable during takeoffs.

Atherton residents have complained for years about the noise Surf Air planes make over their neighborhoods as they approach the airport.

New flight paths, however, now allow pilots to fly the planes over Moffett Field in Mountain View, over the Bay on a path that takes them over the end of Seaport Drive in Redwood City toward the San Mateo County-owned airstrip.

But in recent weeks, residents of the Greater East San Carlos neighborhood say they are hearing much more noise from Surf Air’s Pilatus PZ 12 planes as the depart the airport.

The planes typically veer toward the east over Redwood Shores but have in recent weeks been flying closer to the San Carlos neighborhood, said Ben Fuller, of Greater East San Carlos.

The neighborhood group formed a subcommittee Tuesday night and has charged Fuller with the task of tackling the problem.

Fuller immediately reached out to the mayor of Atherton seeking to partner with the city as it continues to monitor the noise and offer solutions.

San Mateo County formed an Airport Noise Working Group that developed a series of voluntary noise reduction procedures the past couple years including a curfew but they have not substantially curbed the complaints.

Even with new flight paths, Atherton residents are still complaining.

Atherton Vice Mayor Michael Lempres thanked the county Board of Supervisors back in April for an effort to quiet the planes but said since Surf Air planes started flying into San Carlos in 2013, residents in his town and the North Fair Oaks community have complained constantly about the noise.

And they still are since Surf Air started to fly in on a different path starting April 12, Lempres told the board.

Fuller told the Daily Journal that the noise is “destroying our way of life in San Carlos and this hurts the values of our properties.”

Fuller wants the county to survey noise generated during takeoffs as it has for landings.

Members-only Surf Air now offers many more flights into and out of San Carlos than it did when it first launched in 2013, Fuller said. When it started, Surf Air had only three flights a day but that number is now more like 30.

The Airport Noise Working Group has developed a series of voluntary noise reduction procedures the past couple years including a curfew but they have not substantially curbed the complaints.

Mandatory measures are also being considered that may include: time of day restrictions; nighttime curfew; implementing a reservation/slot system for arrivals; implementing the number of flights by carrier; and restrictions on helicopters.

“There also needs to be regulations on helicopters flying over our homes which have been pushed over San Carlos to create room for Surf Air planes,” Fuller said.

San Carlos Mayor Cameron Johnson recently toured the airport after hearing from residents about the noise at his monthly ask the mayor events at the farmers’ market.

The complaints were not specifically related to Surf Air, however, Johnson told the Daily Journal Thursday.

There has been a general increase in helicopter traffic in the corridor related to a flight school, Johnson said.

He expressed his concerns with airport management and was pleased with the response.

They are encouraging residents to continue to reach out about the noise, Johnson said of airport officials.

“They want to be a good neighbor. My advice to residents is to continue to call and make their concerns known,” Johnson said.

The city, he said, takes quality of life issues seriously.

The Federal Aviation Administration sets the routes, flight paths and altitude planes must fly at when approaching the San Carlos Airport.

It has about 130,000 flights annually. Flights have increased 13 percent since 2012.

The county has launched the PlaneNoise: Aircraft Noise Complaint Management System designed to make reporting easier for callers.

With PlaneNoise, individuals can submit complaints by calling the phone hotline at (844) 266-6266 or online at the San Mateo County Airports Division website, www.sanmateocountyairports.org (click “File a Noise Complaint”).

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