Woodside council calls for 'strong' resolution on aircraft noise problem | News | Almanac Online |


Woodside council calls for 'strong' resolution on aircraft noise problem


Quiet skies are a thing of the past for some communities on the Peninsula, including parts of Woodside, where complaints center on commercial aircraft headed into San Francisco International Airport, allegedly flying too low over a navigation beacon located on the crest of the Santa Cruz mountains.

The Woodside Town Council, which acting Mayor Tom Livermore said heard its first public complaint about aircraft noise just two weeks ago, directed staff on May 24 to draft a "strong" resolution in favor of quiet skies. The council wanted the resolution ready before a June 15 meeting of a recently formed committee of elected officials to address aircraft noise in San Mateo, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties. The meeting's location and time are yet to be determined.

In its most recent response to noise complaints in Woodside, Portola Valley and Ladera, a Federal Aviation Administration report called changes to the way traffic is handled over Woodside "not feasible" for reasons of safety and pilot and/or air traffic controller preference.

Residents of these communities may have lost the battle once again, but the war will go on. If community activism is any gauge, cities and towns in the South Bay and up and down the Peninsula have just begun to fight.

The FAA pays closer attention when a community shows it has done its homework in devising practical solutions to noise issues, Woodside resident and spokesperson Raymonde Guindon told the council.

"It's a lot of work to come up with a solution and gain the necessary knowledge and so on," Ms. Guindon said. "We do not have any group in the mid-Peninsula that has proposed a concrete enough solution to the FAA, so ... there's a possible weakness there."

Oceanic flights coming into SFO from the west are particularly noisy over Woodside, she said. "They fly very low (and) they are also very loud." she said. A proposal to ameliorate this noise was "not accepted" by the FAA, she said, but it should be put forward again.

Activism is important if for no other reason than to avoid conditions worsening, Ms. Guindon said. Recent changes that have added flights over Woodside include aircraft going to the San Jose airport, leaving San Jose for Asia, and arriving from Asia for Oakland, she said.

Seeking a champion

Resident Marilyn Voelke, a veteran of the regional SFO Airport Community Roundtable forum for noise complaints, gave an account of her 40-year personal quest to avoid living with aircraft noise. She moved from Millbrae to Burlingame and finally to Woodside, at one point becoming tearful, she said, in telling the Woodside council how the noise was ruining her sleep.

She recalled a dramatic increase in flights in 1995 -- "a sea change," she said -- with the FAA claiming that nothing had changed. "I think that the FAA, the airlines and the airport don't give a damn about any of you and never have," she said, looking around the room. "They're shoving traffic over lightly populated areas."

Recounting a recent morning in her house on Patrol Road at 900 feet above sea level, she said she counted 11 flights in 41 minutes. "That's what I can hear inside my house with everything closed up," she said.

"You're not going to get anywhere, in my jaundiced view, without a consultant," she said. "You're going to have to put money into it. ... We don't need a negotiator. We don't need a conciliator. We need a champion, or we just need to quit."

Resident Kathleen Braunstein, who with her husband Terry Braunstein asked the council on May 10 for a resolution on aircraft noise, disagreed on communities doing their homework. Coming up with solutions is the FAA's job, she said. "The town should speak out directly with a resolution, as we have asked," she said.

Councilman Peter Mason suggested looking into engaging a consultant already working with another local community on the noise issue, an idea that his colleagues supported.

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5 people like this
Posted by Matt
a resident of Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Jun 2, 2016 at 10:47 am

Everyone is upset about the jets, but we've noticed that there seems to be a large uptick in private props, circling and doing other maneuvers over us. Almost as if this is now a holding or teaching zone. Far more disruptive than jets.

1 person likes this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 2, 2016 at 10:49 am

It isn't just the commercial aircraft. Small private planes regularly fly way too low over Woodside, apparently checking out the properties. It is not uncommon that they often appear to be below the 500' FAA threshold. They go slow with the engine revving to maintain a slow airspeed with flaps down. It is by far the loudest of the air traffic in the area, and they often keep circling. It is worse on weekends but is regular throughout the week during good weather. It seems as if something could definitely be done about this.

2 people like this
Posted by fe'real
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 2, 2016 at 10:59 am

Wow. A STRONG resolution! With no teeth (nor should a local council have 'teeth' regarding safety issues in the air, where the FAA rightfully rules.)

Well, I guess it will make some folk happy, at least. So STRONG!

6 people like this
Posted by Woodside Private pilots
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jun 2, 2016 at 11:01 am

Blame your neighbors and their private planes: "Hey, lets fly over the neighborhood...there's out house!" Enjoy trying to limit that!

2 people like this
Posted by Woodsideresident
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 2, 2016 at 12:37 pm

Woodside residents enjoy the convenience of being in close proximity to SFO, yet when it comes to aircraft noise they don't like it. Did any of the complainers make any attempt to look out to the sky and see the type of the airplane causing the noise? Private airplane traffic over Woodside causes much more noise than commercial flights.

Like this comment
Posted by pvrez
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jun 3, 2016 at 10:07 am

@Jack, Matt

I've been tracking it and there's really just a hand full or these planes that circle our neighborhoods - likely beginner flight instruction. N784SP is a regular guest. see them on Flight Radar - great tool to see who's overhead - Web Link.

2 people like this
Posted by Claudette Bergman
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jun 3, 2016 at 5:35 pm

At the top of skyline...they come in low and loud.between 10:30-11:30pm can be as many as 4-6 in a row!
Interrupts conversations,rattles windows...and DISRUPTSSLEEP! Starts up again just before 6 am. Last two years have been horrible . Thinking of moving, its that bad.

2 people like this
Posted by Diane Putterman
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Jun 3, 2016 at 9:20 pm

The jet noise over Skyline is terrible and I feel some of it is due to the topography of the hills and valleys which amplifies the horrendous noise. The huge increase has ruined the quality of our peaceful community-it interrupts sleep and if you want to be outside you are constantly annoyed by the roar of jets. In addition there has been a recent up tick in the private planes which are noisy and fly very low. Whatever happened to living in this peaceful community-now it is a nightmare. Wait until you try to sell your house-this will affect real estate prices. Disgusted at how the FAA doesn't have to answer to anyone except the airlines.

5 people like this
Posted by Jay
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Hills
on Jun 3, 2016 at 10:12 pm

I own multiple planes and love flying them over my home in Woodside. Most of my neighbors are avid pilots with planes that fly along the 280 corridor. I suggest that people purchase an additional home up in hills for greater serenity. I don't know anyone in Woodside who doesn't have a vacation home as well. It's a great idea to get away from the noise.

1 person likes this
Posted by Wendy
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 4, 2016 at 4:25 pm

I saw an article in SF chronicle describing similar problem in Pacifica. The article says that this is due to the implementation of the NextGen system, which automatically finds the shortest routes. FAA has expanded the program and it has causes drastic noise pollution in densely populated areas. Phoenix, according to the article, has sued.

NextGen has been implements without careful study of noise pollution impact on the population. Everyone, poor, middle-class or rich, deserves a quiet and peaceful place to live.

1 person likes this
Posted by TRACEY
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jun 5, 2016 at 3:45 pm

Aircraft noise has greatly increased over several Woodside districts, both commercial and private aircraft.
Other towns have created strong community' and elected officials' response to the FAA to protect the
quality of life, health, sleep, etc. of the residents. Woodside residents deserve no less.

2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 5, 2016 at 3:49 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

I guess Woodside residents shouldn't have bought property in such close proximity to so many airports.

2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 5, 2016 at 4:45 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Given that the Woodside (OSI) VOR has been in place for more than half a century why is anybody surprised that airplanes actually fly over it?

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 5, 2016 at 6:34 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

VOR? What's a VOR? It's this: Web Link

Been on sectional charts for the last 50 years.

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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 5, 2016 at 6:36 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

A little more info on the OSI VOR: Web Link

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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 5, 2016 at 6:40 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

This info about Skylonda even includes information about OSI: Web Link

From the link: "The 7.5-minute quadrangle, Woodside, California, (1994), shows Woodside VOR north of the settlement. The aircraft navigation facility is shown as being outfitted with distance measuring equipment. It lies one mile (1.6 km) at 285 degrees off true north from the intersection of SR35 and SR84. Its identifier is "OSI" and publicly available FAA documents show the VOR signal is on 113.9 MHz."

Yes, 1994. It's been a "secret."

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 5, 2016 at 8:49 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Woodside VOR had a Magnetic Variation of 17E in 1965 so it was established prior to 1965.

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Nancy
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Jun 6, 2016 at 9:41 am

Commercial jet aircraft noise has increased significantly, and is particularly disturbing during the evening and early morning hours. The sound of this type of aircraft is quite different from private planes and the occasional helicopter, which generally fly during daylight hours. Residents can easily report noise at this website (takes less than 15 seconds and will help quantify the problem): Web Link
The urgency of the issue relates not to long-standing routes (the Woodside VOR), but to the implementation of the new NEXTGEN system. This new system has created a significant quality-of-life issue for residents who love Woodside's rural character. Residents would not have purchased homes next to an airport and under a runway, but this traffic re-routing has moved the runway above our town.

2 people like this
Posted by Tired of Noise
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2016 at 10:10 am

People need to understand the scope of the problem – these low altitude approach and departure paths are being pushed internationally by the aviation industry out of a desire for expansion at the cost of our health and that of the environment. If you want quiet you have to be willing to tackle the core issue: the unsustainable expansion of air travel and transport.

The low altitudes have to do with a particular aspect of NEXTGEN: Wake RECAT (or Wake Turbulence Recategorization). Basically, there is a limit on how close aircraft can get to each other because of the turbulence they create. By slowing the aircraft down the planes can be brought closer together, allowing landings and takeoffs to happen in quicker succession, but to slow them down they need to be brought lower into thicker air. This is why so many report seeing aircraft flying over them at low altitude under power.

The expansion of general aviation just adds to the injury. While it is difficult to find numbers that tell how much GA has expanded, the rise in GA fuel use (34% increase from 2000 to 2012) is telling.

The FAA can ignore you; they have been empowered to do so. The only way you’re going to get any real change is to challenge the aviation industry itself: don’t fly unless you absolutely have to and don’t have anything shipped by air.

1 person likes this
Posted by annoyed woodsider
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Jun 6, 2016 at 11:42 am

The discussion of light aircraft is a distraction from the constant commercial flights with speed brakes engaged. If you don't live under or near the new flight paths, then you don't get a sense of the degree of noise this new approach technique generates. You might notice on your next flight, landing with engagement of speed brakes makes for a violent approach, even inside the cabin. Then try and imagine that experience over and over and over, day after day, directly over your home.

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