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L.A. is suing the FAA as residents are fed up with noisy planes in their neighborhoods

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A jet descends into Los Angeles International Airport. New flight paths into LAX, redrawn by the FAA to save fuel and reduce delays, have prompted the city to sue the federal agency.
(David McNew / Getty Images)

Citing concerns about airplane noise for residents in West Adams, Mid-City and surrounding neighborhoods, the city of L.A. is suing the Federal Aviation Administration to get a court to invalidate the routes jets now use to access Los Angeles International Airport.

The lawsuit follows complaints from residents in those neighborhoods who say planes are bearing down on their homes, causing a thunderous and constant commotion.

The city’s three-page petition challenges the FAA’s May 2018 publication and subsequent implementation of its “North Downwind” approach procedures to LAX.

The city pushing back on what it describes as a new policy to limit public comment on flight paths. Comments submitted to the FAA’s website on the proposed flight procedures now aren’t taken into account, the city claims.

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City Atty. Mike Feuer’s office said in a statement on Monday that the FAA changed flight patterns in 2017. Further changes were made in May 2018, but the agency “allegedly failed to perform the required environmental review or seek public comment,” the statement said.

The FAA’s new flight pathways are part of the Southern California Metroplex project, which created satellite-based routes at airports throughout the region. The routes, according to the agency, are supposed to be more precise than previous pathways, which use ground-based navigation.

In 2016, the agency declared the Southern California Metroplex “would not result in significant noise impacts or reportable noise increases.”

The city said in its statement that its lawyers will argue that the FAA failed to properly consider the environmental impacts of changing the flight paths. The city wants the court to deem the paths invalid and force the agency to do a proper environmental review.

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Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the FAA in Los Angeles, said the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

The city’s petition was filed Friday with the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which handles cases against federal agencies.

Previously, the city sought to work with the FAA to address several complaints about the flights, but “to date these negotiations have been unsuccessful,” the city’s said in its statement.

The Southern California Metroplex project is part of a larger FAA modernization program called NextGen, which has drawn complaints in several cities. Newport Beach and Culver City have also filed legal challenges against the FAA.

“Too many people are being impacted by all the new flight paths,” said Denny Schneider, chairman of the LAX Community Noise Roundtable, who hadn’t seen the lawsuit yet. “Let’s hope that the FAA is listening.”

The roundtable consists of an array of members, including community groups and elected officials.

Separately, the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority voted last week to ask the FAA to use different flight paths for departures out of Hollywood Burbank Airport. The authority is seeking to bring relief to residents in Studio City and other San Fernando Valley communities who’ve been complaining about aircraft noise.

Times staff writer Emily Alpert Reyes contributed to this report.

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dakota.smith@latimes.com

Twitter: @dakotacdsmith


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