Airplane Noise

Figure showing flight tracks on July 10, 2008Figure showing flight track on July 9, 2015

Palo Alto is impacted by three arrival routes into San Francisco International Airport (SFO). These routes have had an ongoing negative health impact on our community and intensified due to the implementation of the Federal Aviation Administration’s NextGEN Initiative.

The City is committed to working with our citizens, Congress, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), SFO, SFO’s Community Roundtable, neighboring city and county agencies, regional airports, noise groups, and all stakeholders associated with air traffic in Silicon Valley to find solutions which restore the quality of life of our community.

The City has dedicated staff time, hired expert noise and aviation consultants, outside consul and federal legislative consultants to advocate for our goals and assist with community education efforts. 

 

SFO New Landing System Workshop

 

As part of Palo Alto’s commitment to issues that may impact airplane noise, the City hosted a public workshop where San Francisco International Airport (SFO) staff presented their new landing system, Ground-Based Augmentation System (GBAS), that will soon become operational at SFO. The workshop took place in Palo Alto City Council Chambers on Tuesday, October 2, 2018 from 6-8 p.m.

 

Click here to watch video of the SFO staff presentation.
Click here to view the SFO staff PowerPoint presentation.

 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) describes GBAS as “a system that provides differential corrections and integrity monitoring of Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). GBAS provides navigation and precision approach service in the vicinity of the host airport (approximately a 23 nautical mile radius), broadcasting its differential correction message via a very high frequency (VHF) radio data link from a ground-based transmitter. GBAS yields extremely high accuracy, availability, and the integrity necessary for Category I, and eventually Category II, and III precision approaches. GBAS demonstrated accuracy is less than one meter in both the horizontal and vertical axis.” To find out more about GBAS you can visit the FAA webpage at:  www.faa.gov.

 

Recent Documents:





Picture: Mayor Scharff, Vice Mayor Kniss, along with Councilmembers Wolbach and Fine meeting with FAA officials during the National League of Cities Conference in March 2017.

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Key Documents:

Original FAA Northern California Feasibility Study: Executive Summary, Report and Appendices. The feasibility study was conducted by the FAA in response to citizens complaints and pressure from Congressional Representatives Eshoo, Farr and Speier.

Final Report of the Select CommitteeThe Select Committee was formed by the congressional representatives to respond to the FAA study and ensure representation from each congressional district. Further background, Committee members and their recommendations are contained in the report.

SFO Community Airport/Community Roundtable Report - The Roundtable report was submitted to the FAA within the same time frame of the Select Committee report. The Roundtable submitted their report in response to the FAA's feasibility study.

Further information can be found on Congresswoman Anna Eshoo's dedicated website on Airplane Noise in the 18th Congressional District 

Background Documents and Timeline: 

June 13, 2018

City Council Staff Report Resolution to Join the Santa Clara/Santa Cruz Community Roundtable (Download)

 

City Council Staff Report on Airplane Noise Status Update (Download)

 

May 5, 2018

Policy & Services Committee and Staff Recommendations on Next Steps for Airplane Noise (Download


Council Memo 
Policy & Services Committee and Staff Recommendations on Next Steps for Airplane Noise (Download)

 

June 19, 2017 (Download)
City Council Staff Report and Draft Letter to the United States Department of Transportation

May 23, 2017 (Download)
Policy and Services Committee Staff Report

May 17, 2017 (Download)
Eshoo, Speier, Panetta Statement: Update on FAA Response Regarding Aircraft Noise

March 15, 2017
Mayor Scharff, Vice Mayor Kniss, along with Councilmembers Wolbach and Fine met with FAA officials during the National League of Cities Conference.

November 17, 2016 (Download | Video)
Final Select Committee Working Meeting with FAA

November 3, 2016 (Download | Video)
Select Committee Working Meeting with FAA

October 27, 2016 (Download | Video)
Select Committee Working Meeting with FAA

October 13, 2016 (Download | Video)
Select Committee Working Meeting with FAA

October 10, 2016 (Download)
Letter from City Manager James Keene to the Select Committee

September 29, 2016 (Download | Video)
Select Committee Working Meeting with FAA

September 1, 2016 (Download)
Vice Mayor Greg Scharff comments to Select Committee including updated Historical Noise Assessment by Freytag and Associates.

September 1, 2016 (Download | Video)
Select Committee Working Meeting with FAA.

August 18, 2016 (Download | Video)
Select Committee Working Meeting with FAA.

August 4, 2016 (Download | Video)
Select Committee Working Meeting with FAA.

July 25, 2016 (Download)
Letter from Congresswoman Eshoo to County of San Mateo Board of Supervisors regarding arrivals and departures specific to San Carlos Airport. 

July 22, 2016 (Download | Video)
Select Committee Working Meeting with FAA.

July 20, 2016 (Download)
Letter from Portola Valley, Los Altos Hills, and Woodside in response to FAA Feasibility Study

July 15, 2016 (Download | Video)
Select Committee Working Meeting with FAA.

July 7, 2016 (Download)
Letter from City Manager James Keene to Select Committee further defining recommendations and adding a few more suggestions to mitigate airplane noise; including the initial draft of the Historic Noise Assessment which was revised on September 1, 2016. See above.

June 29, 2016 (Video)
Select Committee Meeting in Santa Clara County

June 21, 2016 (Download)
Letter from FAA to City Manager James Keene in response to City's letter to the FAA regarding concerns about modifications to flight paths over Palo Alto related to San Carlos Airport.

June 15, 2016 (Video)
Select Committee Meeting in San Mateo County

June 8, 2016
Community Meeting held at Cubberley Community Center where staffed and consultants reviewed changes to flight paths and impact to noise from those changes. 

May 26, 2016
SFO Community Roundtable Technical Meeting. For further information please visit their website.

May 25, 2016 (Video)
Selet Committee meeting in Santa Cruz County

May 18, 2016 (Download)
Letter from Congresswoman Eshoo to Community regarding FAA's Feasibility Study and encouraging residents to contact Select Committee with feedback.

May 14, 2016 (Download)
Quiet Skies Norcal Summit in Los Altos where presentations by local resident noise groups occurred. Agenda was structured to react to FAA Feasibility Study which was not release in advance of meeting. Agenda reverted back to general update and discussion about noise groups proposed solutions or guiding principles.

May 11, 2016 (Download)
Los Altos Community Forum where presentations occurred by local resident noise groups followed by a panel discussion.

May 6, 2016 (Download)
Select Committee meeting held at SFO. Santa Clara Supervisor Joe Simitian was selected as Chair along with San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine and Santa Cruz County Supervisor John Leopold as Vice Chairs.

April 27, 2016 (Download)
Letter from Congresswoman Eshoo to Community regarding Airplane Impacts Mitigation Act

April 18, 2016 (Download)
Letter from Congresswoman Eshoo, Congresswoman Speier, and Congressman Farr to FAA Select Committee Members.

April 12, 2016 (Download)
Letter from Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta

April 6, 2016 (Download)
SFO Staff Presentation at SFO Community Roundtable Meeting regarding their meeting with Northern California TRACON

April 4, 2016 (Download)
Updated FAA Initiative to Address Noise Concerns of Santa Cruz/Santa Clara/San Mateo/San Francisco Counties

April 4, 2016 (Download)
Congresswoman Eshoo, Congresswoman Speier, and Congressman Farr Release Announce New Select Committee on South Bay Aircraft Noise

March 30, 2016 (Download)
City of Palo Alto Letter to FAA Western Regional Administrator Glen Martin and Air Traffic Manager Don Kirby regarding Modifications to Flight Paths at San Carlos Airport and Possible Changes that could adversely affect Palo Alto Citizens

March 15, 2016 (Download)
Caltrans Division of Aeronautics Email to Palo Alto Airport Manager regarding Ad Hoc Class B Airspace Advisory Committee

March 7, 2016 (Download)
FAA Presentation to Elected Officials and Community Representatives regarding Initiative's Feasibility Study Overview 

March 4, 2016 (Download)
Letter from Congresswoman Eshoo to Cities Association of Santa Clara County

March 2, 2016 (Download)
City of Palo Alto Letter to FAA Western Regional Administrator Glen Martin responding to FAA Initiative of November 16, 2015

February 8, 2016 (Download)
Staff Report and Approval of a Contract With Freytag & Associates in the Amount of $237,500 for Airplane Noise Assessment & Mitigation; and Approval of a Budget Amendment in the General Fund for Fiscal Year 2016, Offset by a Reduction of $237,500 From the General Fund Budget Stabilization Reserve

February 3, 2016 (Download)
SFO Community Roundtable Staff Report regarding Palo Alto’s induction in organization

February 3, 2016 (Download)
City of Palo Alto Letter to SFO Community Roundtable

February 2, 2016 (Download)
Congresswoman Eshoo and Congressman Farr Letter to FAA Western Regional Administrator Glen Martin regarding Palo Alto joining SFO Community Roundtable

January 25, 2016 (Download)
Congresswoman Eshoo and Congressman Farr Letter to Quiet Skies Summit

December 9, 2015 (Download)
Congresswoman Eshoo’s Letter to Palo Alto Mayor Karen Holman

November 16, 2015 (Download)
FAA Initiative to Address Noise Concerns of Santa Cruz/Santa Clara/San Mateo/San Francisco Counties

November 16, 2015 (Download)
Congresswoman Eshoo, Congresswoman Speier, and Congressman Farr Release FAA Response to Congressional Inquiries about Aircraft Noise

November 6, 2015 (Download)
Congresswoman Eshoo’s Unveils Legislative Package to Reform FAA

October 9, 2015 (Download)
FAA Technical Exchange Meeting with FAA Operations Support Group and Representatives from Bay Area Advocacy Groups with Congressional Districts 17 and 18 including Santa Cruz, Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.

September 3, 2015 (Download)
Congresswoman Eshoo’s Letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta

August 24, 2015 (Download)
Approved Palo Alto City Council Resolution No. 9543

August 24, 2015 (Download)
Staff Report for the Policy & Services Committee; Staff Recommendation that the City Council Authorize a Request for Proposals for; a Technical Study of Increased Air Traffic Noise, to Designate a Council Member to act as a Liaison to Engage in Regional Mitigation and Advocacy Efforts, Adopt a Resolution Urging the Federal Aviation Administration to Address Increased Aircraft Noise in Palo Alto, and Direct Staff to Engage in Additional Outreach, Coordination and Advocacy Activities Regarding Aircraft Noise

August 21, 2015 (Download)
Congresswoman Eshoo and Congressman Farr Letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta

June 29, 2015 (Download)
Congresswoman Eshoo Letter to Community

June 15, 2015 (Download)
Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus Letter to Congressman Shuster and Congressman DeFazio

April 15, 2015 (Download)
Congresswoman Eshoo and Congressman Farr Letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta

April 10, 2015 (Download)
Congresswoman Eshoo’s Letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta

February 10, 2015 (Download)
Staff Report - Discussion and Direction to City Manager Regarding Air Traffic Noise Impacts on Palo Alto Citizens

September 12, 2014 (Download)
Congressional Letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta

May 29, 2014 (Download)
Mayor's Letter to SFO Community Roundtable, Request to Include the City of Palo Alto as a Voting Member of the San Francisco Airport Community Roundtable.

May 2, 2014 (Download)
Mayor’s Letter, City of Palo Alto Comments on the FAA Northern California Optimization of Airspace and Procedures in the Metroplex Draft Environmental Assessment Document Release

April 29, 2014 (Download)
Staff Report: Discussion and Direction to City Manager Regarding City of Palo Alto Response to the FAA Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) Regarding the Northern California Optimization of Airspace and Procedures in the Metroplex (NorCal OAPM)

Historical Timeline of City Activity (Download)

Additional Resources:

Congressional Representative Anna Eshoo (website)
SFO Community Roundtable (website)
Sky Posse Palo Alto (website)

City Staff Contact:
 
Rachael Tanner
Assistant to the City Manager
(650) 329-2167 | Rachael.Tanner@CityofPaloAlto.org

Andrew Swanson
Palo Alto Airport Manager, Public Works Department
(650) 329-2688 | andrew.swanson@cityofpaloalto.org

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Last Updated: Oct 9, 2018