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Making Plenty of Noise Over the ‘Quiet’ Zone

* The county has provided a report regarding the noise to be experienced by the residents of Orange County from proposed El Toro jet plane operations.

This report was prepared with the assistance of the county’s own noise consultant, Vince Mestre. According to the county, the noise to be experienced by the residents living near the proposed El Toro airport “won’t be a problem.”

However, this report is certainly in question after the Feb. 18 article, “ ‘Quiet’ Zones Home to Jet-Noise Complaints,” in which Newport Beach residents miles away from John Wayne Airport account for over 60% of the noise complaints.

Mestre might be an expert in noise, but somehow all the noise must have arrested his eyesight and thinking. Did he purposely ignore the information reported in your article when advising the county?

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Mestre said that Rancho Santa Margarita would be the first neighborhood to the east to hear departing jets. What about Lake Forest, Foothill Ranch and Portola Hills?

Pursuant to the county’s environmental impact report, these communities are much closer and are only one to three miles from the eastern runway departure.

The county’s own initial environmental impact report even indicates the noise levels in these communities will be much greater than at Rancho Santa Margarita.

The county and the wealthy developers who control it will do whatever they can to distort the information, hide the truth and, most of all, mislead the public.

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EDWARD F. GOGIN JR.

Trabuco Canyon

* I suspect it was not a coincidence that The Times printed “ ‘Quiet’ Zones Home to Jet Noise Complaints” right beside the article headlined “Proposed Measure Would Require Two-Thirds Vote on Airport, Jails.”

Was the reason to incite South County residents even more than they have been or to gain stronger support for the new initiative?

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I live approximately three miles from John Wayne Airport and never even hear the noise, whether I am inside or outside of my home. That is because the planes do not go over my house. Living just a few miles from their traffic pattern makes all the difference.

It is my understanding there are no homes that will be directly under the El Toro airport’s flight path. Therefore, I must assume South County residents are going to an awful lot of trouble to fight El Toro when they most likely will not be nearly as impacted as they have been led to believe.

C. FLINT

Newport Beach

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* Some interesting conclusions can be reached from the article, “ ‘Quiet’ Zones Home to Jet-Noise Complaints.”

Not only can one chronic complainer skew the complaint numbers, there is also a direct correlation between household income and propensity to complain.

Santa Ana Heights residents, who suffer the most from John Wayne Airport noise and complain the least, live in homes that cost about $150,000.

Upper Newport Bay and Balboa Island residents, who suffer the least from airport noise and complain the most, live in homes that cost from $348,000 to $1,600,000.

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Not mentioned in the article is another related fact: Affluent Upper Bay and Balboa residents are much more likely than Santa Ana Heights residents to be passengers in the planes creating the noise they complain so vigorously about.

The same will also be true of South County residents of El Toro airport: Those who will use it the most will also complain the most.

NORM EWERS

Irvine

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* I was surprised to see the statistically flawed article on “quiet” zones get a headline.

The story would imply based on complaints that the most disturbing noise from the John Wayne Airport would be on Balboa Island, 50%. The least disturbing would be at Santa Ana Heights, 2%.

Going by this theory, the county could reduce the noise level of the airport by 40% in general and on Balboa Island by 80% by paying the Smoots [who accounted for about 40% of last year’s noise complaints] to move.

DEL JOHN

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Santa Ana Heights

* What have the number of noise-related complaints from Balboa Island to do with the conversion of El Toro? If Balboa Island were in the departure path of an imaginary El Toro the island would be another four miles out to sea. More importantly, flights from John Wayne Airport cut power at 1,000 feet and overfly the island at an artificially low altitude. Flights from El Toro would not be cutting power immediately and would be much higher and quieter than flights over Balboa Island.

Some 50% of all airport noise complaints come from Balboa Island, triggering fears among El Toro conversion opponents that their distance from the proposed facility will actually make matters worse.

This report is a statistical anomaly: Take away the complaints generated by one Balboa Island family and that figure drops to about 16%, in line with the rest of Newport Beach if you account for population density. Why are there so few complaints from noisier areas like Santa Ana Heights? To call in a complaint you need to have something to say other than, “An airplane just flew over my house.”

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Farther down the flight path, aircraft go off course, fly unusually low or restore full power too soon. This is not following the rules established for the “quiet” areas and is logically why residents of these areas would complain.

Would people living down the flight path of El Toro complain about the noise even if it is far less than the military jets and less than that currently experienced at John Wayne Airport? Yes, but they should consult a map and stop whining.

THOMAS A. BUTTERWORTH

Balboa Island

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