This is the second part of a two part interview with Representative Adam Schiff from California’s 28th District. In this part Rep. Schiff discuses two topics important to Burbank residents – aircraft noise and the continuing impact of “sequestration” of federal funds on local social programs.
myBurbank: The area between Interstate 5 and the Verdugo Mountain foothills is frequently overflown by aircraft from the media, law enforcement, military, and private aircraft. What news can you bring us on efforts to control or limit low-level flights and noise from aircraft, such as helicopters, in residential areas?
Rep. Schiff: Quite a lot has been happening over the last year. It began with several of us urging the FAA to reach out to stakeholders in Los Angeles and provide suggestions about mitigating helicopter noise. It took about a year, and they issued their report just about a month or two ago.
We had a hearing at the Autry Center where they presented their findings. They recommended a number of steps that could be taken to mitigate helicopter noise by changing minimum altitudes, or changing flight paths, best-practices, or pooling of press helicopters.
All of what they recommended were voluntary steps. Voluntary steps in the past have not been sufficient, so I’ve introduced legislation to require FAA regulation in this area.
We’re going to let them see what they can accomplish on a voluntary basis. I’m skeptical, but I think they are going to try. The next steps are meeting with stakeholders again to prioritize. Where are the hot spots? Where can they provide individualized remedies?
The FAA has made the point that LA is one of the most complicated airspaces in the nation. That is true, but that’s not a justification for doing nothing. It simply means we have to tailor-make the solution for different areas.
It’s not that we can have a minimum altitude for all of Los Angeles. That might be a problem over the Burbank Airport, and not a problem over the “Hollywood” sign. There may be ways we can ensure helicopters observe flight paths over freeways rather than over residential areas.
I had a roundtable with law enforcement a couple months ago as well, and there are steps law enforcement can take to minimize their impact on the ground. Not every flight by a law enforcement helicopter is an emergency situation. Sometimes they are going for routine maintenance, sometimes they’ve finished patrol and they are heading back to station.
Rather than taking established flight paths that mitigate the noise they take the shortest route because (for example), it saves them fuel. So there are steps that even emergency providers can do to mitigate their impacts.
myBurbank: Sequestration is still in effect. Where should we expect to have the most impact? How will this continue to impact Burbank’s quality of life?
Rep. Schiff: I think we can expect that cuts to the Safety Net programs will be the most devastating, and cause the most pain. The most visible cuts, air traffic controllers for example, those problems will get fixed. Because those are very public, very prominent, but it will be the people who are on “Meals on Wheels,” or folks trying to get a Section 8 Housing Voucher because they can’t the rent otherwise.
Those who are living at the edge of poverty are going to be most impacted.
So the needs of a place like the Burbank Temporary Aid are going to be more significant because there is going to be less government assistance available.
Contact Rep. Schiff with your thoughts, ideas, concerns, or opinions at schiff.house.gov