Flying Friendly Near SLO Airport -- To the Ear, That Is

Noise issues at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport will get a fresh look by the Airport Land Use Commission.

Commissioner James "Mac" Glein on Thursday asked the staff to provide the commission with information about noise complaints. He said it is a valuable tool in airport land-use planning.

Martin Pehl, assistant airport director, said the county operates within federal noise guidelines. In addition, the airport has a voluntary noise abatement guide for pilots.

Pehl says noise complaints near airports are nothing new. "They've been ongoing since the Wright brothers." He said the airport staff takes them seriously and talks with the complainants.

Sometimes, however, "there's not much we can do to help," said Carolyn Huber, airport operations supervisor. The airport recently received a petition, for example, containing a complaint about noise from some residents in a corner of the Silver City Mobile Home Lodge that is in the airport's flight path.

Huber said she has received 73 complaints this year, from fly-overs to "run-ups," which means sitting and revving the engine. Of those, however, 46 have come from three individuals, who each have complained dozens of times over the years.

One lives at the Silver City Mobile Home Lodge. A second lives across the street from the airport and complains about helicopters. The third lives behind Vons, northeast of the airport.

They all are "extremely nice people who are extremely gracious," Huber said.

With those three removed, the number of complaints over the past five years is 224 in 2002; 96 in 2003; and 64 in 2004.

Huber said she and Pehl hope to have a report on airport noise ready for the commission by October.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press