FAA may crack down on noisy helicopters after residents complain
Federal regulators and flight officials may soon crack down on noisy, annoying helicopters that hover over Los Angeles, carrying media, sightseers and other curiosity seekers.
Several hundred residents from throughout Los Angeles County attended a public hearing in Sherman Oaks on Monday night and demanded that Congress and the Federal Aviation Administration do something about the annoying helicopter flights over their neighborhoods.
For more than two hours, residents from the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Brentwood, the San Fernando Valley and other communities complained to Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Valley Village) and two top-ranking FAA officials, including William C. Withycombe, the regional administrator for four Western states, including California.
"My promise to you is that we will follow up on this," Withycombe told the audience. "I can't promise I will solve this overnight. But I will try to solve as many of the problems as I can."
Compared with airplanes, helicopters have fewer restrictions. Though planes must fly at an altitude of at least 1,000 feet above heavily populated areas and 500 feet over less congested areas, helicopter pilots usually do not have to comply with the minimum requirements if they don't endanger lives or property.
Leni Boorstin, director of community and government affairs for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Assn., testified that the Hollywood Bowl averages five helicopter fly-overs an evening and has had as many as nine despite past warnings to pilots.
The problem, Boorstin said, is becoming an impediment to broadcasting concerts and, more important, attracting top conductors to the popular venue.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said he was listening to a Beethoven concerto at the Hollywood Bowl last week when the thunder of a passing helicopter muffled a beautiful violin solo.
"This was an outrage," he testified, "The Hollywood Bowl is a national treasure. These helicopters are dangerous and disruptive. We don't have years to wait for a solution."
-- Dan Weikel
Photo: Homeowners around the area affected by last year's Carmageddon complained at the hearing Monday night about noise from helicopters carrying observers and news media over the site. Credit: Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times