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County considering spending close to $1 million on airport noise issue

Original post made on Jun 23, 2017

San Mateo County's Board of Supervisors will meet Tuesday morning to consider spending close to $1 million on items related to noise complaints about the San Carlos Airport, most connected to Surf Air.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 23, 2017, 11:19 AM

Comments (36)

Posted by Are you kidding me?
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jun 23, 2017 at 1:02 pm

This type of commercial operation should have never been allowed. Close whatever loophole that allowed it in the first place and/or strictly cap their operations -- say 5 landings a day. Let's not drag this out for another 2 or 3 or 5 years. County, show some leadership and act with decision. You don't need to go running to Mommy to ask permission.

Posted by Menlo Park Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 23, 2017 at 1:10 pm

This type of commercial operation is what airports are _FOR_. We don't live in a community where everyone walks or rides bicycles and horses; we have motor vehicles. Eliminating flights from from San Carlos airport makes as much sense as closing 101 or 280. In talking with those I meet who complain about Surf Air flights, I'm frustrated that few of them can even distinguish which flights are Surf Air vs. other, or even confuse the noise with jets heading into other Bay Area airports. The FAA controls airspace, not local municipalities- the FAA is who should be receiving complaints towards approving alternate flight paths; my understanding is that the Surf Air pilots are very willing to do what they can, but are limited by the specified approach and departure routes they are constrained to follow. There are so many things in our community that are louder, including leaf blowers, garbage trucks, construction, motorcycles, train whistles, etc.; pursuing the San Carlos Airport with more county funds is a huge waste of taxpayer money.

Posted by Gwen
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jun 23, 2017 at 1:12 pm

Have to agree with Are you kidding me- the supes haven't done much in 4 years about the SURF AIR NOISE - and this is a solution? - better late than never- but agree CLOSE THE LOOP HOLE that allowed them in to San Carlos...the airport didn't receive community complaints until SURF AIR arrived...3-5 years of their continued expansion? or you allow a copycat airline follow them in as well?

Posted by Happy
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jun 23, 2017 at 1:13 pm

I think this is a silly use of money, but not for the reasons "Are you kidding me?" suggests. I don't see the flights as a problem. I live in a busy, thriving area, and I expect to hear other people, including cars, planes, and trains. I enjoy the benefits of a good economy, and so I deal with the traffic (a much bigger problem than noise) and everything else that comes with the area. I think the county has better things to spend money on, let the flights continue, and let's work on housing, or public transit.

Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 23, 2017 at 1:14 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

@are you kidding:

The "loophole" as you call it, isn't a loophole. It is the way the FAA wrote the rules. SQL is a reliever airport and as such is being used for exactly the purpose the FAA wants it used. If you want that changed you will need to get the FAA to change the rules and they have shown no interest in doing that.

Posted by Gwen
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jun 23, 2017 at 1:17 pm

MENLO PARK RESIDENT try living 800 feet under the landing pattern 25 times a day plus the take off- they sound like a 757 on landing...Airport was not designed for this commuter operation- leaf blowers don't sound like a 757 landing in your garden, 25 times a day from 6.30 am until after 10 pm. put yourself in someone elses shoes, before you judge.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 23, 2017 at 1:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Perhaps someone can tell me what the County will do with this $1 million worth of information?

They have zero power to change the flights rules.

Is this just a feel good expenditure?

Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Jun 23, 2017 at 1:56 pm

What a Great Idea,
Hire somebody to take all the flack calls and complaints. Pay them from the tax money that effects the poorest residents the most. Measure A

Posted by References Please
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jun 23, 2017 at 2:41 pm

Can somebody please post links to the relevant documents related to this issue so that the public may review them? I don't know what all of these would be, but I'm presuming there is, at a minimum: (1) some form of guidance or regulation or use agreement between the County and the Airport, (2) Business or operations permit for SurfAir, either general permit or specific to San Carlos Airport, and (3) FAA documents which define and authorize the type of operations that SurfAir is conducting.

It is difficult to have a meaningful debate without these.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 23, 2017 at 2:49 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Ron - everything you ask for has been posted here time and time again. Most of us who post know the facts. I for one don't have the time or interest to do your research for you.

Citizenship is hard work - do it.

Posted by SA Noise
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 23, 2017 at 6:03 pm

SA Noise is a registered user.

Thank you to the Supes for at least trying, Read the article and you will see where the money is being spent,

As for garbage trucks, Let me know how many trucks a day come by your house, My guess is not 25,

Garbage trucks and leaf blowers are great comparisons, As I said when you get 25 leaf blowers a day, you may want to complain, let me know,

And for the record they do fly at 800 feet above the houses as far as 3 miles away.

If you don't believe me call the airport, or ask Peter he should know as a pilot,

and no Peter you don't see and or hear every SA flight every day.

Posted by Gwen
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jun 23, 2017 at 6:14 pm

Why don't they pay Surf Air the million to curfews and call it a day,
Surf is running out of cash anyway

Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 23, 2017 at 6:29 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Surf is running out of cash anyway "

And you know this because??? They're expanding their operations, offering more flights from more locations and have a waiting list of customers as long as your arm? Is that why they're running out of cash?

Posted by VC
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 23, 2017 at 10:19 pm

@Menlo Voter,

1) The Surf Air board fired their recent executive team in June
2) The founders were fired a few years ago
3) No acquisition price stated on Rise acquisition, suggesting asset sale (ya, it's private, they don't have to disclose), but asset sale supported because...
4) No new Surf funding since 2015 which means Surf does not have enough cash for acquisitions or operations because...
5) Operations transferred to Encompass

Failure is likely because of the above AND because the investors parachuted one of their own (Sudhin Shahani) into oversee day to day management. He has ZERO aviation experience giving new investors little reason to jump in. No new funding suggests that Potter (who had a lot of aviation experience) was unable to attract new money.

A successful business does not fire their executive management team - especially one that has core domain expertise like Potter/Sullivan, unless there are BIG problems. Firing founders is equally problematic for a successful startup. The valley is littered with this exact playbook, and far too many startups have failed as a result.

If I was a Surf customer, I wouldn't advance pay my monthly membership until new funding materialized. This biz is nose diving.

Posted by Disgusted resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jun 23, 2017 at 11:24 pm

When is our County going to take care of its own residents, rather than protecting a company based in Santa Monica with many of their passengers living outside of San Mateo County. Rather than spending $1M to basically monitor and tracking Surf Air noise issues (sounds like a do nothing exercise that will not resolve the noise issue-a typical government after study...monitor after monitor), It would be smarter to use the $1M tax money as legal defense fund by taking solid steps to eliminate the source of the unbearable noise problem generated by Surf Air's Pilatus turbo prop PC-12. How did we even get into this situation? Per Airport Regulations, it states "No person shall use the airports in any manner whatsoever for any commercial profit, gainful, or revenue producing purpose, regardless of the form of compensation, without a valid Permit , Concession or Right of Entry Agreement with the County". Who issued the permit to Surf Air to use San Carlos airport without considering its consequences to San Mateo residents? ( Are we holding that person(s) responsible??) It is obvious, Since Surf Air is a ventured funded business, its intent is for profit. Did San Carlos Airport even checked this before issuing permit? So, now the County is spending more tax money for a problem that could have been avoided and was originally created by the County, a self inflicted wound. Instead of digging ourselves deeper into the hole, let's use the $1M as legal defense fund by taking concrete steps to stop Surf Air from using this airport for profit purposes. Instead of being afraid to confront this issue and protecting its residents, let's pull the permit. If Surf Air sues the county for lost profit (most likely they are not making money right now as a for profit start up), there is no base for lost profit as compensation. At least, the County is protecting and serving the interest of its residents with its tax money.

Posted by Michael G.Stogner
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2017 at 7:22 am

If you wish to communicate with the Supervisors before the meeting, Here is contact info, I recommend e-mails.

Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2017 at 8:03 am


AGILE That says it all

Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 24, 2017 at 8:54 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.


Because the county has taken federal funds from the FAA they CANNOT keep Surfair from operating at SQL. And they recently took more, obligating them to continue anyone to operate from the airport that the FAA regulations allow. And the FAA regulations allow Surfair to operate at SQL.

Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2017 at 10:18 am

Has the Measure A Oversight Committee approved this action.
2016 they only met twice the second meeting 4 members didn't bother to attend.

Web Link

Posted by Are you kidding me?
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jun 24, 2017 at 10:56 am

The County's position to date -- absolute refusal to mitigate SurfAir -- demonstrates that they do not care about the concerns of their constituency. Considering the tremendous outpouring of public voices and turnout at community meetings, town halls and comments to articles in the Almanac like this one, all of this is apparently not enough. I wonder where their threshold is? So County, tell us, how much is too much? It is 60 flights a day? No? Okay, how about 100 flights a day? Oh, I see, that's still just fine? How about 8,000 flights a day? At what point are you going to take action?

Posted by Really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 24, 2017 at 11:25 am

Here is the ranking of "important issues facing our community" in order of importance from the Board of Supervisor's own (2016) survey:

1. Traffic congestion and public transportation
2. Children not reading at grade level by 3rd grade
3. Cost of living
4. Access to medical and emergency services
5. Environmental issues
6. Lack of affordable housing
7. Too much population growth or development
8. Economic disparity
9. Flood control and sea level rise
10. Airport noise or airport disturbances

Questions: what they could have done about the top 3 REAL ISSUES facing our community with that same million dollars? what have they spent on those issues vs. this issue?


Web Link

Posted by Sammy
a resident of another community
on Jun 24, 2017 at 6:39 pm

Is this a wise decision? Surf Air has been there for more than 3 years and making more noise than ever before. Now, are we going to use tax payer’s 1 million dollars to guarantee for another 3 years with its expanding business and more noise? I don’t think it is a good idea.

Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 24, 2017 at 6:53 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Are you kidding:

The county hasn't done anything to "mitigate" because they CAN'T. See above and previous posts on this issue re the county accepting federal money for SQL.

Posted by Gwen
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jun 24, 2017 at 7:02 pm

Thank you VC for the complete breakdown...appreciate your accurate input...

We have all seen companies which surround us which aren't 'profitable', but when you pay low wages to pilots ...what does that lead to?
Surf Air is not serving the majority of OUR community

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 24, 2017 at 7:02 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

There are three stupid things being done by local governments with out tax dollars:
1 - This effort by the County to count something that it cannot control
2 - The PA Council's decision to install post mortem cameras on the CalTrans right of way
3 -The Atherton Town Council's pursuit of it own tiny fire department in a vain attempt to replace the best fire agency in the country.

Posted by Richard Arrigo
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jun 24, 2017 at 8:13 pm

Richard Arrigo is a registered user.

OMG, what a waste of money!!! This money is coming from the widely advertised Measure K sales tax that could be used on anything and yet the Board of Supervisors is peeing it away on cameras and a patronage position when they could be using it to buy food for poor people!!!!!!

What a travesty!!! This is all being done to satisfy a bunch of wussy whiners who are afraid of a little noise. I say you can all pound salt. We live in a huge metropolitan area with highways, trains, and lawn mowers at all hours of the day and night. If you can't handle that you should live in a cave. Grow up and close your windows for the 30 seconds that Surf Air flies over your estate.

Posted by Mary Culus
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jun 24, 2017 at 10:16 pm

Mary Culus is a registered user.

Come on Richard, are you kidding me? Our sales tax is being spent on useless crap to make some privileged individuals in Atherton happy?

To tell the truth, that doesn't surprise me. This is just another Trump effect. The rich people are stealing our health care to pay for tax breaks. Now they're stealing our sales tax to pay for cameras and useless employees who should get a real job.

I agree with you. Those people who are bothered by noise should close their windows. PROBLEM SOLVED! And our sales tax could buy food for poor people.

Shame on you Board of Supervisors!!!

Posted by Richard Arrigo
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jun 24, 2017 at 11:26 pm

Richard Arrigo is a registered user.

No Mary, I'm not kidding.

Take a look at the agenda for this meeting: Web Link

The cameras and other crap is under the heading of Measure K. This was the half-cent sales tax that we passed by 70% in 2016 to "provide affordable housing for "seniors, people with disabilities, veterans and families." Other priorities include enhancing public transit, combating human trafficking, addressing sea level rise, and maintaining safe schools and neighborhoods." Web Link

What a crock!!! Now they turned around and are wasting it on a bunch of Athertonians. They have enough money to buy triple pane windows, or just close the darn windows or avert their eyes when planes fly over their pools. The rest of us need to go to work every day.

You're right, these Trump people are everywhere. Their hypocrisy and selfishness makes me sick to my stomach.

Posted by Nancy Stercus
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 25, 2017 at 1:09 am

Nancy Stercus is a registered user.

"entitled" says it all. All the rest of us can just rot in heck as far as you and Tony are concerned, I'm sure. Well, some of us care about other people, not just ourselves. Sorry for being so non-Trump. You people really believe that make America great again bs. lol

Posted by SA Noise
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 25, 2017 at 1:32 am

SA Noise is a registered user.

You forgot to mention Tony "works his ass off every day to get where he is" No handouts, probably paid his way through college,


He also said if SA flew over his house he would be the first to complain,

so by complaining we are doing the right thing.

I also worked my ass of to get anywhere and now the SA flights do go over my house so I will continue to complain

Surf Air is not off the hook yet,, There are a few approaches the county and citizens haven't tried yet. .

Don't give up but don't waste you energy on critisizing the rich.

Posted by Sammy
a resident of another community
on Jun 25, 2017 at 8:01 am

Sammy is a registered user.

I suddenly found this place was full of humor.

How many windows does a house have in average? Say, 20? OK, let’s practice it just for one day: for each airplane passing over your house, you have to close about 20 windows, wait for 30 seconds, and then open all 20 again. How many airplanes each day? 20? How many houses are under the path? Don’t you think this will be a lovely tourist attraction?

Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Jun 25, 2017 at 9:13 am

Michael G. Stogner is a registered user.


San Mateo County residents passed Measure A to fund Critical Services. I don't think this qualifies.
Also Measure A funds go till 2022.

John Maltbie, John Beiers, Don Horsley, Warren Slocum, Dave Pine, Carole Groom & David Canepa are calling this Measure K funds which don't start until 2023.

Posted by gwen
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jun 25, 2017 at 8:33 pm

gwen is a registered user.

Re Tony, Richard, Mary..
1. The majority of the complaints aren't coming from Atherton, which seems to have a well functioning town government looking after the complaints of their citizens.
2. Tony, I work my ass off everyday as well and frequently 7 days a week managing my own firm, from my home office. I would like to see you focus, concentrate and manage conference calls which are drowned out by Surf Air flights, conduct mtgs in your office or garden under the constant unrelenting barrage of Surf Air flights...beginning as early as 6.45 and ending after 10 pm..After I manage my successful business, all day, I'm denied the pleasure of relaxing in my garden in the early evening as Surf Air continues landing and taking off at a very low altitude over my garden.
3. The citizens complaining are those who have never had a reason to call San Carlos airport until Surf Air arrived...
4. really Trump? Now I understand the dillusion. I will host the neighborhood party after his impeachment,, that is if our little neighborhood isn't swept under the bay as he continues to deny Global warming..the airport is at the edge of the bay, it may be underwater and Surf Air won't be able to land.Sad.
5 Tony" Frankly, I don't know how anyone could afford to live on 150 k a year, Tony..are you related to Trump? I hope you pay your housekeeper and gardner at least that much a year...

Posted by SQL
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 26, 2017 at 12:30 am

SQL is a registered user.

VC are you sure about your information.

According to "PE Hub Network" . "Google PE Hub Surf Air Rise"it sounds like the are acquiring and expanding. As a matter of fact they will go nationwide, I smell Washington lobbyists all over this.

"Surf Air has acquired RISE, a membership air travel service. No financial terms were disclosed. Surf Air’s backers include Institutional Venture Partners, Anthem, Velos Partners, Plus Capital and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin.


SANTA MONICA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today, Surf Air announced the acquisition of RISE, the second largest competitor in the “all-you-can-fly” membership-based air travel category. This consolidation will establish Surf Air’s presence in both California and Texas, bringing the total number of weekly flights to 445, across 17 destinations. As part of the agreement, the combined entities also announced plans to quickly expand to additional markets within the next 18 months, including: Las Vegas (NV), Bentonville (AR), Midland (TX), New Orleans (LA), Scottsdale (AZ), and Taos (NM), with certain membership levels offering weekend service to Cabo San Lucas (Mexico), Aspen (CO), and Sun Valley (ID).

100 people a day need to call Surf Air every day to complain to get them to mitigate.

Sorry Gwen but get others to complain directly to SA along with the airport.

Posted by boadicea
a resident of another community
on Jun 26, 2017 at 1:57 pm

boadicea is a registered user.

This is not an appropriate use of Measure K funds. Plus merely adding to the payroll and logging complaints is not going to solve anything. This is a ridiculous misuse of $1 mill. that could be put to a lot better use that would benefit a wider swath of the county. It would be interesting to see the area of the county from which the subscribers to Surf air emanate from. Many people could not afford the rates.

Posted by boadicea
a resident of another community
on Jun 26, 2017 at 2:01 pm

boadicea is a registered user.

I forgot to mention that the BOS is voting to renew the contract with the useless County Manager plus give him an increase of 8% when he already costs the taxpayers $500,000/year

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