May 25 Select Committee Meeting Summary

Last Wednesday, the Select Committee held a Community Meeting in downtown Santa Cruz and invited FAA Regional Administrator Glen Martin and members of community groups to provide input on the FAA Feasibility Response. There were approx. 500 people in the audience, mostly Santa Cruz County residents--but a fair number of people from the Mid-Peninsula and Monterey County were in attendance, as well. Three presentations to the Select Committee defended the interests of people living under BIGSUR and in the Mid-Peninsula. All presentations/transcripts available are listed following:

    • Agenda prepared by Kristine Zanardi of Supervisor Joe Simitian's office

    • FAA was represented by Glen Martin, Western Regional Administrator

    • Save Our Skies Santa Cruz County was represented by Patrick Meyer

The Select Committee heard comments from Glen Martin, Regional Administrator for the FAA, 4 community groups (including QSLAH's own Bill Evans), and the general public.

This Santa Cruz Sentinel article does a good job of summarizing the Select Committee meeting. You can see the full video of the event on Youtube.

There were a few interesting things we heard Wednesday evening:

1. Glen Martin said that the FAA's solution to SERFR noise problems (OPD or Optimized Profile Descent) "is not noise free"

2. Yet Glen Martin agreed with Committee Chair Joe Simitian's statement that their proposed modifications are "putting it back to the way it was"--a point that many in the audience took exception to (as noted in the Sentinel article linked above).

3. Glen Martin wants community input on where the noise problems are, because he "doesn't want the community to have to wait for updated metrics". After the meeting, a few members of the Mid-Peninsula discussed this with Mr. Martin and offered their help--we think we can build on the excellent work done by talented members of the Santa Cruz and Santa Clara county communities to deploy effective noise monitoring very quickly.

4. Supervisors McPherson and Leopold were reminded that the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors has directed them to only pursue remedies that "do not impact other residents (of Santa Cruz County)"

5. George Wylie of the San Lorenzo Valley Advocacy Group, a former United Airlines pilot, stated that the proposed FAA modifications to SERFR will not restore the route to pre-NextGen levels of noise--it will simply shift the noise problem over unsuspecting people.

6. San Lorenzo Valley Advocacy Group described the QuietSkies NorCal proposal as "not an authentic regional solution", and reports that San Lorenzo's ideas and input were rejected when they tried to provide feedback.

The following is additional detail on what each of the community groups said to the Select Committee:

  • Patrick Meyer of SOS Santa Cruz County

    • Though Patrick advocated for immediate solutions to provide immediate relief, he also pointed out the necessity of pursuing long-term solutions to provide relief.

    • Patrick pointed out that the FAA is pitting communities against one another, calling it "shameful". [ Well said Patrick! ]

    • Patrick criticized the FAA's proposed SERFR modifications:

      • "a bandaid for a poor procedure"

      • the FAA admitted in their study that the ability of flights to to actually use OPD (optimized or idle descent) is limited, yet that is the primary fix they are offering.

      • in addition to what the FAA is offering as SERFR modifications, the altitude must be raised.

    • Patrick called upon the FAA and the Select Committee to be more transparent, and to release the FAA's detailed findings (promised only to the Select Committee) to the public.

  • BIll Evans of Quiet Skies Los Altos Hills (link to presentation),

    • The FAA is offering procedural changes without specifying any expected noise reduction

    • The noise reduction benefit offered to Mid-Peninsula is negligible

    • Mr Martin's earlier comments showed that the FAA continues to prioritize airline efficiency over noise

    • Bill pointed out the folly of having laypeople offer solutions to a federally-funded agency (with a multi-billion dollar budget and >30,000 employees)

  • Richard and Linda Cheatham of Save Our Skies Monterey County

    • The impact to Carmel Valley occurred in a later stage of NextGen, starting in October 2015

    • Implored the Select Committee to "do not just take input and walk away", pointing out the importance of continuing to involve the community groups and "avoid group-think". [ We couldn't agree more! ]

  • George Wylie (former Navy and United Airlines pilot) and Jacqui Rice of San Lorenzo Advocacy Group (link to speech)

    • Charged the FAA "didn't seek input from stakeholders" and "deprived communities of input"

    • Said that the FAA's SERFR modifications will result in "noise equal to SERFR"--the planes will continue to be "lower and louder" [ George, thank you for sharing your expert opinion! ]

    • Reminded Supervisors McPherson and Leopold that they are only authorized to pursue remedies that "do not impact other residents of Santa Cruz County"

    • Quoted Rep. Eshoo in saying the airplane noise problem was a "regional problem that needs a regional solution"

    • Described the QuietSkies NorCal proposal as "not an authentic regional solution", and reports that San Lorenzo's ideas and input were rejected when they tried to provide feedback.

    • Reported that there is a huge unsuspecting swath of residents under the old flight path who have not been represented and will face an increase in noise