Tuesday, March 1, 2005
Livermore halts airport plan work to focus on noise
By Bonita Brewer
The Contra Costa (CA) Times
LIVERMORE – Heeding protests from neighbors of the Livermore Municipal Airport, the City Council on Monday night halted all work on a master plan update to instead concentrate on noise monitoring and reduction. he council’s action came after several neighbors opposed what they claimed were weak guidelines proposed by city staff to deal with airport noise.
“These principles do not have any teeth,” Livermore resident Wendy Weathers told the council.
Relying on pilots to voluntarily reduce noise “is like believing in the tooth fairy,” resident Mike Corbett said.
In response to the concerns, the City Council strengthened language to say the city would foster reduction of aircraft noise not just voluntarily, but “through any legal means available.”
Mayor Marshall Kamena tried to reassure the audience that the council is listening to the community’s concerns.
“There are not five people here trying to reduce the quality of life … for people who live near the airport.”
The council reassured recreational pilots that there are ways for the airport to add small hangars to deal with a long waiting list for space.
Weathers said several issues raised by Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin residents at a Jan. 31 Livermore council meeting, when the council scrapped proposed airport upgrades that would accommodate more jets, weren’t addressed in the staff-proposed guidelines.
For example, many residents called for a noise program manager independent of current airport management, and for the city to actually discourage jet use by not leasing space to aviation businesses that cater to jets.
On Monday, Ralph Cloud, chairman of the city’s Airport Advisory Commission, raised concerns that the estimated $200,000 cost of noise monitoring equipment called for in the council’s Monday action could be passed on to pilots.
City Manager Linda Barton said that the $200,000 could come out of available airport funds.
Nevertheless, Cloud said that if the cities of Dublin and Pleasanton want their concerns about noise from the airport addressed, they should help pay.
Cloud had previously sent a letter to the council that raised concerns about the costs of additional environmental studies that would have been required if the master plan update went forward.
“During the public meetings, there was unfounded and emotional public comment based on anecdotal claims that do not stand the scrutiny of factual evidence based on reality,” Cloud’s letter said. “To place the financial burdens on the tenants and airport users to meet unfounded demands of residents is unreasonable.”
Cloud noted that the city cannot legally regulate the operation of in-flight aircraft, which is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration.
Other guidelines approved by the council Monday call for Livermore to work with the FAA to minimize impacts to the Tri-Valley from jet flights to and from the Bay Area’s international airports.