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California politics archives from April

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Feinstein, Boxer seeking flight path changes after concern over noise pollution

Rachel Kellerman with a graphic showing points where over 40,000 complaints to the FAA were logged in front of her home in Palo Alto. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Rachel Kellerman with a graphic showing points where over 40,000 complaints to the FAA were logged in front of her home in Palo Alto. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

California's senators waded into a debate over ongoing concerns about noise caused by new flight paths Monday with a letter asking the head of the Federal Aviation Administration to address the complaints.

The number of complaints to the San Francisco International Airport’s Noise Abatement Office has spiked since new, state-of-the-art routes passing over Palo Alto and Santa Cruz were enacted.

Similar concerns have been raised at other airports across the country, and the FAA is studying potential changes to the traffic control system, the Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen, that will keep efficiencies but reduce noise.

“While we appreciate that this airspace modernization program is intended to benefit airlines and their customers, these benefits may not outweigh the serious noise concerns reported by many other Californians,” the letter from Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer states.

More efficient flight paths are scheduled to be put into place in Southern California airports, and Boxer and Feinstein wrote that the “noise burden” on residents needs to be considered. The letter states that thousands of Californians have called their offices since the start of frequent, low-altitude flights into San Francisco International Airport.

“In Southern California, where NextGen changes are still forthcoming, we are already hearing from constituents who believe that the new patterns were developed without adequate regard for noise impacts,” the letter states.

Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Menlo Park), Sam Farr (D-Carmel) and Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) recently created a committee to recommend ways to ease airplane noise around San Francisco International Airport.

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