Livermore Airport Monitoring Funding Up in Air

Yet another showdown between Livermore airport pilots and neighbors is expected tonight when the City Council discusses just how extensive a noise monitoring program should be -- and who should pay for it.

Residents near the airport battling aircraft noise oppose a monitoring system unless it includes "consequences for abusers."

And they don't like suggestions by pilots and Councilwoman Lorraine Dietrich that the city pay for it instead of the airport's tenants.

"This recommendation is an attempt to strike out at the victims of the airport noise and punish them," according to a statement released Friday by the Livermore Airport Citizens Group.

"Using general funds would only mean reduced services for the city. The residents of Livermore are not creating the noise. It is the users/tenants of the airport which are not all from the Tri-Valley area," the statement said.

On the same grounds, the group also opposes asking Pleasanton and Dublin to contribute monitoring money.

Meanwhile, pilots in a newly formed Coalition for the Livermore Airport say they do not believe there's any justification for additional noise monitoring. The group cites a 2000 Pleasanton study that found no violation of federal or state noise standards, and it says airport activity has decreased, not expanded since then.

"If the council feels Livermore has to generate its own data, I'm confident it will be essentially the same," said coalition Chairman Eugene Wheeler of Livermore.

Livermore ought to pay for monitoring, "use temporary equipment like they did in Pleasanton, get confirmatory data and close the books."

"For sure there are moments when there is aircraft noise ... but the vast majority of people flying in and out of Livermore, including us (general aviation) pilots and local businesses flying state-of-the-art aircraft, are not generating noise," Wheeler said.

Dietrich said that because the city is initiating the monitoring, paying for it "is certainly something that warrants discussion." If Pleasanton and Dublin want to be included in noise monitoring, they should perhaps share costs, she said.

Tonight's meeting will be mainly informational, with the city staff updating the council on progress on the noise monitoring and reduction system.

Although the council could provide some general direction, no final action is expected pending recommendations this fall from a noise consultant who is exploring monitoring options.

Public Services Director Dan McIntyre has estimated cost of a permanent system at $150,000. That would not include the cost of additional staffing and office space.

A written report from McIntyre says the city has expanded its noise complaint system, improved outreach to pilots and, in efforts to reduce noise from jets flying to the Oakland International Airport, persuaded the Federal Aviation Administration to direct them to fly higher and farther south over the Livermore-Amador Valley. It also has joined federal lobbying to phase out older, high noise "Stage 2" jets.

Airport officials say they continue to seek voluntary compliance with a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. flight curfew but can't enforce it under federal law.

However, airport neighbor Wendy Weathers of Livermore insists the airport can impose a nighttime flying restriction on its tenants through lease agreements.

"If they overlook that, they're not doing their job."

The Livermore City Council meets at 7 p.m. today at 3575 Pacific Ave., Livermore.