Pilots Don’t Want to Pay for Noise Monitoring
The rental cost for hangars at the Livermore Municipal Airport was increased by 5.5 percent by the city council. In addition landing fees were increased for landing operations. The vote was unanimous. Pilots addressing the council did not object to the increased rental fees. They did object to the proposed use of the money raised by the increase. Staff had proposed using some of the money to finance a noise monitoring and reduction program.
A decision will be made in June as to whether the hangar fees will help pay for noise monitoring, or whether the city will finance it through its general fund and ask for contributions from Pleasanton and Dublin.
The noise monitoring and reduction have been mandated by the Livermore City Council in response to complaints from residents living near the airport in Livermore, Pleasanton, and Dublin.
Airport manager Leander Hauri estimated the cost of the noise monitoring system at $200,000. In addition, there would be a cost of ongoing maintenance and staff to implement the noise monitoring and reduction. Other capital improvement projects needed at the airport bring the total cost to $559,000, Hauri added. These projects are ineligible to receive federal grant funding and need to be fully financed by the airport?s enterprise fund either directly or through loans.
Among the other capital projects are a washrack retrofit, northside fencing, replacement of outdoor lighting at the hangars, and an underground storage compliance project.
Hauri told the council that the increase in hangar fees would bring them in-line with what other airports are charging.
Pilot John Goldsmith said he is not eager for the hangar rent increase. However, if approved he would like the money to go towards something useful. Goldsmith noted that airplanes make noise. There will be tons of data generated by any noise monitoring system. How that data is interpreted will be different, depending on what you are trying to show. The data won?t change opinions already held by people. ?I do understand the political pressure to put in a noise monitoring system. Many who don?t live in Livermore are demanding it and not paying for it.?
Airport Commission Chairman Ralph Cloud said he believes that current hangar fees are in parity now. Charges closer to the Bay are higher and drop as you move eastward. On another point, Cloud pointed out that the fees are to pay for services rendered. Charging the hangar tenants for the noise monitoring is an undue fiscal burden. It?s a penalty tax on airport users,? Cloud commented.
Pilots also questioned the value of the noise monitoring. There is no criteria for noise levels, nor does the airport have any enforcement ability. It was suggested by several that the problem should first be identified i.e. the type of aircraft, jets, time of day, location, etc.
Bert Weinstein, a westside homeowner, suggested the city conduct a noise monitoring survey to understand the sources of noise that are of concern before committing to a long term noise monitoring system.
Councilmember Lorraine Dietrich called the decision by the council to require noise monitoring similar to unfunded mandates approved by the state and federal government. She suggested that the costs of the noise monitoring be paid out of the general fund. The council will be making the decisions regarding the monitoring.
Asked about Pleasanton and Dublin, Dietrich declared, ?You get what you pay for. If Dublin and Pleasanton pay nothing, they get nothing.?
City manager Linda Barton said that asking for funds from neighboring cities would constitute charging for a service. ?If they chose not to pay for the service, the service may not be available.?
Livermore would go ahead with the noise monitoring. However, it may not place monitors in those cities or share data. More details will be provided to the council on the various options at a council meeting in June.
Councilmember Mark Beeman was more cautious about asking neighboring cities to contribute to the costs. He said that would likely come with a demand for greater involvement by Dublin and Pleasanton in airport operations.
Councilmember Tom Reitter said he would like to ask Dublin and Pleasanton to contribute, because he feels the system is important. Without monitoring to record actual data, the council will continue to hear anecdotes as to how bad the noise is. At the same time, he was concerned about the price the city may have to pay with regard to airport control.
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