Torrance : Noise Ruling Upheld

The City Council on Tuesday upheld a ruling by a city administrative hearing board against a pilot and an aircraft for exceeding the city's airport noise ordinance.

Both the pilot, Roger Sanderson, 67, and the aircraft, a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza owned by Viets S. Logue, could be permanently banned from the Torrance Municipal Airport if they violate the noise limits two more times during the next three years.

Since September, 1984, when the Aircraft Noise Administrative Hearing Board was established, 11 cases have been brought before the hearing board, resulting in eight convictions. Sanderson's case was only the second to be appealed to the City Council. The other conviction was also upheld by the council.

Brent Ayscough, an attorney representing Sanderson and Logue, argued unsuccessfully that the flight was to test a new propeller part and should not have been monitored, and that the pilot was forced to fly at a low altitude directly over a monitoring device because the control tower had ordered the pilot to stay to the left of another, slower, plane that was taking off at the same time.

Ayscough also argued unsuccessfully that the three-member hearing board--made up of representatives from the city manager's office, Fire Department and Engineering Department--were not qualified to adjudicate noise matters in regard to airplane safety because none of them are pilots or familiar with aircraft operations.

After the council meeting, Ayscough said he would recommend that Sanderson and Logue file a lawsuit against the city challenging the establishment of such a hearing board.

When the board was created last year, City Atty. Stanley Remelmeyer said it was necessary because criminal prosecution of pilots who violated the city's airport noise ordinance was difficult. Under the ordinance, the city had to prove the violation "beyond reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty." Those rules of evidence do not apply in the administrative hearings.

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