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City Council Endorses Keeping Helicopters Higher: Will It Help?

The bill would set minimum flight altitude regulations on police and media helicopters.

Echo Park and Silver Lake residents know well how hovering helicopters can put an end to a good night's sleep.

Just Wednesday, a search for two car thieves near Glendale Boulevard kept residents up til all hours as choppers clattered and police shouted through bullhorns.

Read the full blow-by-blow on Diane Edwardson's Corralitas Red Car Property blog.

Summer, with its open windows, can make things seem even worse.

There's some good news.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council added some oomph to efforts by Rep. Howard Berman (D-Valley Village) that would provide some relief from the sound of buffeting blades.

From the LA Times:

The council voted to endorse a bill by Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Valley Village), who held a public hearing last week in Sherman Oaks to hear from residents whose neighborhoods are affected by noisy, low-flying helicopters.

If passed, the measure would direct the FAA to establish flight paths for helicopters and set minimum altitudes at which they can operate over certain areas of the county.

Support for the bill was not unanimous. Councilmember Richard Alarcon dissented, according to the times, citing concerns that it would prevent law enforcement officials from effectively doing their jobs.

LAPD Northeast Detective Richard Ortiz did not comment directly about the bill, but said that helicopters played a critical role in crime enforcement.

"I think they are very important, they are the first ones on the scene," he said. "If there's an incident, and we know it's involving a red car, the guys in the helicopters are going to be the first ones to get there and get the location of the red car. That kind of thing leads to arrests on a daily basis."

The bill would also set height restrictions on media choppers, which normally fly higher than the LAPD helicopters.

Michael Hampson August 16, 2012 at 10:43 PM
To all the "helicopter haters", would you please now carry a printed card in your wallet which says you will refuse emergency helicopter transport to a hospital because helicopters are too noisy. Also, on this card, be sure to note that if you needed rescued due to a natural disaster or you are stranded somewhere, you will refuse to be rescued by a helicopter because they are too noisy. Oh, you won't do that? I see, that is, if you are offered a ride on a helicopter, it makes it okay, the noise does not matter. But if someone else is riding in a helicopter (and you are not), then it's not okay. Gotcha.
Mark August 19, 2012 at 11:47 PM
That whole Berman bit is a bunch of hype and headline seeking. It isn't going to do anything. This is what all the Congress members do when Congress is in its summer hiatus. For one thing, this article is VERY wrong is talking about its impact on police helicopters. The bill specifically exempts police and emergency helicopters from it! None of that will change. And those are really the ones people are complaining about as they are the low-flying ones and bigger ones that make the loud noise. The media helicopters are generally flying notably higher, and they are smaller (meaning quieter) craft as well -- they are not the big problem, although yes you do hear them too.
ElodieStClair December 04, 2012 at 06:25 AM
Regulating helicopter use doesn't mean eliminating it. By reducing things to absolutes, you're completely missing the point. And it makes your post look silly. Somewhere between 0% and 0% of Angelenos oppose emergency use of helicopters. Nobody opposes that. Nobody. What people oppose is non-essential use of helicopters, which comprises the overwhelming majority of Los Angeles helicopter traffic. This would include helicopter use for news, tourism, and recreation. These uses create widespread disturbances of the peace, which, by legal definition, is a crime. Again, does this mean total elimination of this type of use? Of course not. It simply means that severe and sweeping restrictions are in order.
Michael Hampson December 04, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Cars make noise, make a massive amount of pollution and kill not only other people in cars but pedestrians and bicyclists. I am not opposed to ambulances with their ear piercing sirens, no one is. However, noise which cars make is simply disturbing the peace. Disturbing the peace, by legal definition, is a crime. Killing someone is a crime. Imagine if no one drove cars anymore. There would be about 32,000 less deaths in the United States per year. List of motor vehicle deaths in U.S. by year http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year From 1900 to 2010, in the United States alone, (according to the statistics on Wikipedia) there have been 3,514,048 deaths due to car accidents. This is a disgusting figure. This is the real issue at hand. Based on reducing deaths, it should be obvious that what we need to focus on building high speed mass transit through the entire United States. And at the same time, we need to build local mass transit for the public. When the United States has built local and national mass transit that connects every town and city then let's talk about helicopter noise. Which is causing more deaths? Helicopters or cars? Cars. Which causes more pollution? Cars. What is causing more noise? Cars. Which is the more pressing issue? Cars. Let's stop wasting time on non-issues like helicopter noise and start talking about real social issues like 32,000 death per year due to cars and start doing something about it.

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