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Valley Village, CA – Congressman Howard L. Berman (D-Valley Village), joined by Senators Feinstein and Boxer and other Los Angeles-area Members of Congress, sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood requesting that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) formally solicit local stakeholder views on solutions to the helicopter noise problem in Los Angeles County.  This collaborative community effort is an important step in broader efforts to institute rules regarding the flight paths and altitudes of helicopters flying over residential neighborhoods. 
 
In the letter, Congressman Berman and cosigners, Senators Feinstein and Boxer, Rep. Janice Hahn, Rep. Adam Schiff, Rep. Brad Sherman and Rep. Henry Waxman write: “We believe the FAA should expeditiously undertake an examination of potential remedies to the ongoing problem of helicopter noise in residential areas of Los Angeles… We strongly feel that FAA’s leadership must lead to meaningful action to reduce helicopter noise.” Rather than simply asking the FAA to begin a study of helicopter noise in LA, the letter calls for a “collaborative effort to identify specific concerns with helicopter operations, including noise [and] evaluate options that would respond to identified concerns including, but not limited to routes, operating altitudes, and hovering practices.” 
 
Referring to previous noise studies at Burbank and Van Nuys airports, “I won’t allow the issue of helicopter noise to be studied to death,” said Congressman Berman. “This is not meant to be a substitute for further action to curb excessive helicopter noise in LA.” Congressman Berman calls the collaborative study, “the first step in efforts to enact helicopter flight restrictions in LA.  Even if legislation were passed tomorrow mandating certain flight paths and minimum altitudes, the FAA would have to do an analysis to determine how to best impose new rules.”  
 
In addition to the letter, Congressman Berman spoke personally with Secretary LaHood earlier this week to press for meaningful action on helicopter noise and to urge the FAA to solicit community concerns and possible solutions to this problem.  “We had a productive conversation,” said Congressman Berman.  “I believe Secretary LaHood understands the helicopter noise and safety concerns that so many of my constituents have raised with me, and that he and the FAA will work with Valley residents in a constructive way to help better identify solutions to these problems.”
 
Background
 
In response to increasing complaints about helicopter noise in the Valley, Rep. Berman has worked to compel the FAA to bring order to the skies of Los Angeles, and curb helicopter noise.  Last year, Rep. Berman authored the Los Angeles Residential Helicopter Noise Relief Act of 2011, which would mandate the FAA to regulate helicopter traffic in LA, with special exception for law enforcement, emergency responders, and the US military.  A companion bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Feinstein and Boxer.
 
In January, Rep. Berman convened a meeting with Valley homeowners associations, helicopter pilots and operators, local law enforcement and emergency response agencies, and representatives from the FAA about the problem of helicopter noise in the Los Angeles area. 
 
The Los Angeles Times highlighted Rep. Berman’s leadership on the issue of helicopter noise. The article “House bill targets helicopter noise in L.A. County” can be read here.
 
A Los Angeles Daily News editorial on this issue, “Clear the skies -- Helicopter traffic is not just annoying -- it's pervasive” can be read here.
 
The full text of the letter sent to Secretary LaHood is here.
 
May 23, 2012
 
 
Hon. Ray LaHood
Secretary
United States Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave. SE
Washington, DC 20590
 
 
Dear Secretary LaHood:
 
We are writing to respectfully request the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) begin the process of formally soliciting local stakeholder views on helicopter noise in Los Angeles County, California in order to more quickly develop solutions to this ongoing problem.  As cosponsors of legislation currently pending in the House and Senate, respectively, which would mandate the FAA issue regulations pertaining to helicopter noise, we believe the FAA should expeditiously undertake an examination of potential remedies to the longstanding problem of helicopter noise in residential areas of Los Angeles. 
 
We also note that pending report language included in the Fiscal Year 2013 Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill would direct the FAA to solicit the views of interested parties, including representatives of local communities, regarding helicopter noise and safety issues in Los Angeles County.  The Senate Committee on Appropriations directed the FAA “to lead a collaborative effort … to (1) identify specific concerns with helicopter operations, including noise; (2) evaluate options that would respond to identified concerns including, but not limited to routes, operating altitudes, and hovering practices; and (3) develop solutions to the identified issues consistent with FAA’s statutory responsibilities.”  Given longstanding concerns about helicopter noise expressed by our constituents, we urge you to begin the consultative process as referenced in the Senate Appropriations Committee report without delay.  
 
We would also like to reiterate our firm belief that while consultations and reporting requirements are an important step forward, they are no replacement for meaningful action by the FAA to address the legitimate noise concerns expressed by our constituents in the Los Angeles area.  While we understand the complexities involved in developing solutions to the problem of helicopter noise in Los Angeles, we note that previous efforts to address other air traffic-related noise concerns in the region were ultimately deferred as a result of repeated and costly studies.  We strongly feel that FAA’s leadership must lead to meaningful action to reduce helicopter noise. 
 
We look forward to working with you and the FAA to develop a more detailed outline and scope for these consultations, and are pleased to invite the FAA to hear first hand from our constituents their concerns and solutions to the helicopter noise problem in the Los Angeles area.   We look forward to hearing your response to our request. 
 
 
Sincerely, 
 
 
     
 HOWARD L. BERMAN          DIANNE FEINSTEIN              BARBARA BOXER
    Member of Congress                     U.S. Senator                              U.S. Senator                             
 
 
 
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