As recent posts on this site have indicated, the community is struggling with the mystery of how it is that despite the on-going public outcry, the city staff and council have done little or nothing about the airport for all these years. I think perhaps I have finally uncovered the explanation. It seems that those of us that complain about impacts from the airport are apparently hallucinating. The evidence for this is clearly presented on the city’s own web site. We who are suffering these mass delusions only needed to know where to look.
Did you know that the city has an on-line Geographic Information System (GIS) that shows all kinds of interesting things about your property including a detailed history of aerial pictures, contours, trash routes, street sweeping schedules, and a number of other things. The site is here. If you go to the site you will see that one of the overlay layers is called “Community Noise (CNEL) Measure”. Now that sounds like something that ought to support the public’s position that the racket from the airport is unbearable right? Here is the definition of the CNEL:
Community Noise Equivalent Level (CNEL) measurements are a weighted average of sound levels gathered throughout a 24-hour period. This is essentially a measure of ambient noise. Different weighting factors apply to day, evening, and nighttime periods. This recognizes that community members are most sensitive to noise in late night hours and are more sensitive during evening hours than in daytime hours. CNEL depends not only on the noise level of individual approaches, but also on the number of approaches during the measurement period.
So we’re clearly talking about a measure of sound levels that is supposed to show impact from such things as airports. If you choose the CNEL overlay on the site, the following map is displayed:
As we can see, the 10 freeway is noisy, so to a lesser degree are the major surface streets. By contrast however, the airport and surrounds is a place of perfect peace and tranquility, one of the quietest places in Santa Monica to live in fact. So there you have it, either the author of this map didn’t take any actual measurements (a common technique in city studies it seems), or we must all be imagining the noise – as the city web site clearly shows.
But there is also another overlay entitled “ALUP Airport Influence Area”, surely those of us that are within this area must be experiencing some real impact from the airport and are not just deluded like the rest. A bit of hunting around gets us the map of the “influence area” (here):
It looks like all the noise is confined to within the airport boundaries, so unless you live within the airport property you can’t actually be hearing any ‘real’ noise as the map plainly shows. But what are those purple ‘wings’ on either end of the runway labelled ‘RPZ’? Perhaps if we were in the RPZ we might legitimately be hearing something. Again a bit of hunting around gives us the FAA definition of RPZ as a Runway Protection Zone. Ok, what is that? Well on March 30, 2012 the FAA issued an “Update to Airport Design – AC 150/5300-13A” which gives the definition or an RPZ as:
“Definition: To enhance the protection of people and property on the ground.” The document then goes on to give the following allowable uses for land designated as an RPZ:
* Farming that does not cause hazard to air navigation
* Vehicular parking and storage in the controlled activity area
* Irrigation channels as long as they are not a bird attractant
* Airport service roads, as long as they are not public roads and are directly controlled by the airport operator
* Underground facilities
* Unstaffed NAVAIDs and facilities, such as equipment for airport facilities that are considered fixed by function.
Well now that’s interesting, it says there can’t be any people actually living in houses in these areas, nor can there be any public roads. Hmmmm…. it seems that our hallucinations run far deeper than at first feared, because I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty convinced there are people actually living in both of those purple bits.
So there you have it. Obviously I’m delusional, and so are all the rest of us that complain about SMO. The official records show quite clearly that there is no noise impact on anyone from the airport, and that there couldn’t possibly be people living in the places they claim (unless they are hobbits and live underground!) because that would be a violation of FAA guidelines and such a thing could never happen! As city staff have made abundantly clear, the FAA is a stickler for the rules, so we know for a fact that SMO couldn’t be in violation, which means we can’t possibly live where we say we do, and we can’t possibly be impacted as we say we are. Even the golfers using holes 6 and 7 of Penmar would have a good case for reckless endangerment according to this map, so we must be imagining the golf course also. Besides which, even if the FAA has made an ‘innocent’ mistake in this case, our city staff and council would never let such a dangerous situation persist….right?
I must say, I feel a lot better now, and I know I can make these hallucinations go away if I try really hard and remember they are not real!
The only problem I’ve got now is a six-foot rabbit called Harvey that keeps following me around…