Flight plan raises new concerns

Hannah Han

Studio City For Quiet Skies is encouraging residents to contact their local representatives in opposition to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) newest proposition to increase aircraft departures from Van Nuys Airport.  The organization, whose mission is to reduce aircraft noise in the Los Angeles area, has also partnered with Former Executive Director of Bob Hope Airport Dan Feger to execute an initiative to limit air traffic above Burbank.

Feger created the initiative  in response to an online document released Aug. 6, in which the FAA stated its intention to create a “jet superhighway” from the Van Nuys Airport. This plan would increase  the number of low-altitude planes flying over the Studio City area, co-founder of Studio City For Quiet Skies Suellen Wagner said . Under the FAA’s newest proposition, schools and neighborhoods along Valley Vista and Ventura Boulevard would experience  a significant increase in air and noise pollution, Wagner said. The FAA’s reasoning behind their new proposal remains unclear.

The new superhighway would endanger residents living beneath the flight path, as it would pose a fire hazard to the Santa Monica Mountains and create a crisis that would negatively impact the physical and mental health of residents, Wagner said.

“The new flight path is going to be a problem because the impacts are many and not well understood,” Wagner said. “We’re going to be seeing, 20 years out, a number of diseases under the path from the air pollution. A lot of people right in my neighborhood have kids with asthma inhalers now; there are people that have gone without their inhalers for 20 years that have them again. People have terrible stress disorders and anxiety, because this is just overwhelming.”

In an effort to alleviate the damaging effects of the new air pathways, Studio City for Quiet Skies has begun coordinating with authorities, including Feger , to limit air pollution and noise over the Los Angeles area. Feger, with the support of the organization, created a three-step plan to provide immediate aid to residents living south of Interstate 5  and established a written flight procedure to hold the FAA accountable.

“Feger showed up at a [Burbank Airport commission meeting] and told the airport that they were shirking their responsibility, and that there were a number of things that they could do to help mitigate these impacts that were killing people,” Wagner said.

Other representatives, including Los Angeles City Councilman for Council District 4  David Ryu, expressed disapproval toward the FAA’s proposal and its refusal to communicate with Los Angeles residents.

“The [FAA’s] decision to dramatically increase air traffic over residential neighborhoods is harmful to our communities and our environment,” Ryu said in a press release . “Worst of all, they made this choice without engaging the city  or the public. This lack of transparency is unacceptable, and we continue to urge the FAA to come to the table and work with us on finding a better way.”

In the meantime, Studio City for Open Skies has been encouraging Los Angeles residents to petition Los Angeles City Council Member Mayor Garcetti, Los Angeles World Airports and the Los Angeles City Attorney to reverse the FAA’s proposal. Wagner said the organization will make an effort to directly communicate with members of the community.

“We will continue to work with our elected representatives and meet with them on a regular basis,” Wagner said. “We represent a lot of people, and we work really hard to keep the public informed and to give them some hope and some power.”