Airport Noise Advisory Committee gets earful from upset residents

Airport statistics show noise complaints & curfew violations have spiked in last 18 months

Noise complaints over flights in and out of San Diego International Airport are skyrocketing. On Wednesday night, some of those complaining took their concerns to the Airport’s Noise Advisory Committee.

One after another, residents from La Jolla to Point Loma, Pacific Beach to Mission Beach gave the Noise Committee an earful.

“I have lived in La Jolla for 50-years. I had never heard aircraft noise until last year,” said one. “Recently we began hearing the thunderous noise of the jetliners flying right over our homes in La Jolla Shores,” said another.

One resident noticed something different in La Jolla on one particular recent weekend, and offered it up as evidence that flight patterns can be adjusted to restore the peace and quiet.

“On January 28th, the day of the PGA Tournament, people were on social media from Bird Rock noting how quiet it was that day. Go on Webtrack. Northbound departing jets were clearly farther away from the shore compared to other prior Saturdays,” he said.

Airport Authority statistics provide proof of what these residents were saying. Noise complaints, pretty modest in 2013 and 14, but then things spiked in 2015 and last year, they went through the roof. Residents accuse the FAA of changing takeoff and landing patterns.

But it appears to be more than that. There is a curfew for departing flights; they’re not allowed to take off between 11:30pm and 6:30am. Fines assessed from 2013 through January of this year show an amazing jump in assessed fines. From $152,165 in 2015, the airport assessed a whopping $564,000 last year and given the figure from January of potentially $104,000, it looks like we’re on track to surpass that.

CW6 asked airport spokesperson Rebecca Bloomfield about the spike in curfew violations. “We cannot unfortunately speculate on why the airlines break curfew. It’s just something that we continue to work with them on so that they understand the importance of the curfew to the community,” Bloomfield said.

Bloomfield said the airport tries to help the airlines by making it easy for them to shift departure times, but beyond that there’s not much they can do. As for the noise committee, they’ll take the concerns of residents and bring them to the Airport Authority board at its next meeting.

The money the airport collects from those curfew violation fines goes back into its general fund. Rebecca Bloomfield said a portion of it is used specifically for noise abatement.

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