Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutionsby Senator Dianne Feinstein
Posted on 2013-02-04
FEINSTEIN (for herself and Mrs. Boxer):
S. 208. A bill to require the Federal Aviation Administration to
prescribe regulations to reduce helicopter noise pollution in
residential areas in Los Angeles County, California; to the Committee
on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise to introduce the Los Angeles Residential Helicopter Noise Relief Act of 2013.
This legislation, which I introduce with Senator Boxer, would require the [[Page S471]] Federal Aviation Administration to prescribe regulations for helicopter operations in the skies above Los Angeles in order to reduce helicopter noise pollution in residential areas.
In addition to addressing noise, the FAA's regulations would have to increase safety, minimize commercial aircraft delays, and exempt first responders and military aircraft from their limitations.
The bill also would direct the FAA to consult with local communities and local helicopter operators when developing the regulations.
This legislation is necessary because today the citizens of Los Angeles County suffer intrusive and disruptive low-flying helicopter traffic above their neighborhoods to an unprecedented degree.
The unique terrain of Los Angeles, with its many canyons and valleys, often concentrates the high decibel level noise from low-flying helicopters on many of the millions of homes in the county.
The noise interrupts daily life for Los Angeles County's residents, drowning out conversations and disrupting sleep cycles.
Despite multiple efforts from several community and homeowner organizations in Los Angeles County to address these disturbances over many years, helicopter traffic in Los Angeles County is not currently regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration or any other agency.
As one expert recently explained to The Los Angeles Times, a helicopter pilot is free to hover over a person's home for as many hours as he would like. The only limitation on helicopter hovering, in fact, appears to be fuel supply.
Last year, at my request the Senate Appropriations Committee directed the Federal Aviation Administration to begin developing solutions to this matter.
In response, the Federal Aviation Administration formed an internal working group in July 2012 to solicit input from local communities and stakeholders on helicopter noise and safety issues in Los Angeles County.
As part of that process, FAA Regional Administrator Bill Withycombe hosted several public meetings in the summer and fall of 2012 that have allowed stakeholders and citizens to express their concerns and propose solutions.
The Federal Aviation Administration will release a report in May 2013 evaluating a full set of voluntary and regulatory options to reduce helicopter noise and address safety issues in Los Angeles County.
The study is a necessary first step in order to determine how helicopters can be regulated in Los Angeles County in a manner that provides relief to residents from helicopter noise and increase safety.
But the study is only a first step. It must be followed by meaningful and effective regulations to limit the impacts of these helicopters. I introduce this legislation in order to ensure that the FAA will follow through on the regulatory options it plans to evaluate in its May 2013 report.
This legislation directs the FAA to act in the interest of the millions of Americans in Los Angeles County. I appreciate the steps the FAA has taken to date, but only regulations appear capable of addressing the quality of life impact caused by helicopters in Los Angeles.
Last August, thousands of people sat in the stands of the Hollywood Bowl for a night of Beethoven.
Nestled into the Hollywood Hills and with little sign of the Nation's second largest city that surrounds it, the Hollywood Bowl is a unique spot to take in a concert.
But just as violinist Renaud Capucon stood for a solo, an unidentified helicopter flew overhead, drowning out the sound of his music.
It was an upsetting event for the audience, but it is far from unusual.
The people of Los Angeles have had too many wonderful outdoor concerts and other cultural events disrupted by helicopters that fly without restriction.
Choppers in L.A.'s sky have caused too many sleepless nights.
Paparazzi helicopters have too often flown dangerously low and close to homes in their constant pursuit of celebrity images.
The air space above Los Angeles is the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration, so to bring some sanity to the skies above L.A. requires Federal action, and Federal leadership.
This legislation directs the FAA to provide that leadership necessary to protect the public interest.
I encourage my colleagues to support it, and I look forward to working with my fellow members to enact this important legislation.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the text of the bill was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows: S. 208 Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Los Angeles Residential Helicopter Noise Relief Act of 2013''.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
Congress finds the following: (1) Residents throughout Los Angeles County suffer intrusive and disruptive low-flying helicopter traffic above their neighborhoods. The unique terrain of canyons and valleys that surround residential neighborhoods in Los Angeles County often concentrate high decibel level noise from the low-flying helicopters in and around Los Angeles County residences. The concentrated noise interrupts daily life for many Los Angeles County residents by drowning out conversations and disrupting sleep cycles.
(2) Los Angeles County is home to a uniquely large concentration of scenic, historic, entertainment, and transportation venues, including sight-seeing, movie studios, movie star homes, outdoor entertainment facilities, Griffith Park, the Hollywood Sign, freeways, and many others, that generate extensive helicopter activity.
(3) Los Angeles County is home to the world's leading civil helicopter manufacturer that conducts extensive helicopter operational testing across the region.
(4) Despite multiple efforts from several community and homeowner organizations in Los Angeles County to address these disturbances, helicopter traffic in Los Angeles County is not currently regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration or any other agency.
(5) At the request of members of Congress, the Federal Aviation Administration formed an internal working group in July 2012 to solicit input from local communities and stakeholders on helicopter noise and safety issues in Los Angeles County.
(6) As part of that process, several public meetings were held in the fall and summer of 2012 that have allowed the Federal Aviation Administration and stakeholders to hear and better understand the concerns and complaints of affected residents.
(7) The Federal Aviation Administration is scheduled to release a report in May 2013 evaluating a full set of voluntary and regulatory options to reduce helicopter noise and address safety issues in Los Angeles County.
(8) The report is expected to explore how helicopters can be regulated in Los Angeles County in a manner that provides relief to residents from helicopter noise while also meeting the needs of relevant stakeholders, including first responders.
SEC. 3. REGULATIONS TO REDUCE HELICOPTER NOISE POLLUTION IN CERTAIN RESIDENTIAL AREAS.
(a) Rulemaking.--Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall prescribe regulations for helicopter operations in Los Angeles County, California, that include requirements relating to the flight paths and altitudes associated with such operations to reduce helicopter noise pollution in residential areas, increase safety, and minimize scheduled commercial aircraft delays.
(b) Exemptions.--In prescribing regulations under subsection (a), the Administrator shall exempt helicopter operations related to emergency, law enforcement, or military activities from the requirements described in that subsection.
(c) Consultations.--In prescribing regulations under subsection (a), the Administrator shall make reasonable efforts to consult with local communities and local helicopter operators in order to develop regulations that meet the needs of local communities, helicopter operators, and the Federal Aviation Administration.
______ By Mr. CORKER (for himself and Mr. Vitter): S. 215. A bill to ensure that the Federal Reserve conducts its policies to ensure long-term price stability and a low rate of inflation; to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.