Residents air more complaints about noisy planes

Residents who complain about increased noise from commercial flights were told on Monday that nothing has changed. But their ears tell them differently.

About 16 residents attended a meeting Monday at City Hall and were advised to collect pre-2008 data to compare with current noise levels from air traffic to make their case. But the city already has that data and it doesn't validate residents' reports, according to Assistant City Manager Christa Johnson.

"It is maddening when you are told nothing has changed and you know it has," said Keri Kern-Barriga, a resident of Laguna Canyon, where residents first voiced complaints about the increased noise to the city. "The data was provided by the people who don't want to make changes in the elevation and number of flights."

Still, she said, the meeting was valuable.

"What I got was validation that there is a problem, and not just in Laguna Canyon," Kern-Barriga said.

Kern-Barriga began tracking noisy flights in April of 2011, but she was joined at the meeting by people from all over town.

Meeting participants sat in a circle that included representatives from Congressman Dana Rohrabacher's office and Eric Freed, John Wayne Airport Access and noise manager.

Rohrabacher District Director Kathleen Staunton advised residents they were wasting their time just claiming things had changed.

"She told us what we are up against and that we need to change our verbiage," Kern-Barriga said.

Councilwoman Toni Iseman, co-chair with Councilman Steve Dicterow of the Airplane Noise and Traffic Subcommittee, said the meeting was productive.

"I feel like we have some people interested in resolving this," Iseman said.

Meeting participants claimed that planes are not going all the way to Catalina Island to gain altitude before turning back over Laguna. Iseman said the city has anecdotal information from a flight attendant substantiating the claim.

The frequency of early-morning flights was also an issue, but the noise was the overriding concern.

Johnson said Tuesday that the city is trying to figure out its next steps and whether it will be useful to gather more data.

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