Residents protest airplane noise at ‘Sky Posse’ meeting

    Palo Alto residents are talking to the City of Palo Alto to protest loud and low-flying airplanes after a “Sky Posse” meeting Wednesday night at the Lucie Stern Community Center.

    Sky Posse is an organization founded in early 2014 by Palo Altans wishing to address increased plane noise in the Bay Area. According to Sky Posse’s website, changes by the Federal Aviation Administration have led to increased air traffic over Palo Alto neighborhoods, and many residents claim this lowers the city’s standard of living and causes unneeded distractions.

    The meeting included information regarding Sky Posse’s website, methods for reporting airplanes as well as general information and an update from the City of Palo Alto. According to the update from senior management analyst Kashayar “Cash” Alaee, the city plans on implementing a study on airplane noise and cooperating with locals in Palo Alto.

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    Sky Posse leaders Rachel Kellerman and Jennifer Landesmann presented a series of statistics and solutions at the organization’s meeting Wednesday night. “Working with the FAA is the only way to stop the plane noise,” Landesmann said. Photo by Aidan Maese-Czeropski.

    “Every neighborhood has been impacted,” Sky Posse co-leader and Palo Alto High School librarian Rachel Kellerman said.

    Co-leader Jennifer Landesmann outlined two of the organization’s major goals at the meeting: holding California elected officials responsible and giving the community a voice.

    “We’re the worst hit out of all of the cities that are affected,” Landesmann said.

    According to Landesmann, airplane noise in Palo Alto has increased nearly 200 percent in the past several years. Although traffic at nearby airports in San Jose and San Francisco is growing, this newfound noise mainly results from the new Next Generation Air Transportation System, which shortens flight distances and times and saves fuel while simultaneously increasing flights over urban areas.

    Since NextGen’s implementation, complaints against airplane noise from Palo Altans has mushroomed. Wednesday night’s meeting represented the culmination of months of research and lobbying for reduced sound, according to Landesmann.

    While Sky Posse mainly aims to address noise pollution, the organization also points out potential health risks associated with numerous low-flying aircrafts. According to National Geographic, plane emissions cause 10,000 deaths in the world each year. Landesmann says that the benefits of shifted flight routes outweighs the loss of jet fuel that could be saved by simply flying straight over the Bay Area.

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    Sky Posse co-leader Rachel Kellerman poses with a board mapping airplane noise complaints in the Peninsula. “Nothing will change … If the citizens and the city do not fight for it,” Kellerman said. Photo by Aidan Maese-Czeropski.

    Since Sky Posse’s founding in 2014, residents have lodged complaints and made petitions to reduce plane noise. Kellerman says she hopes to work with both Palo Alto and the FAA to cause faster results.

    “The longer this program [NextGen] goes on, the harder it is to stop,” Kellerman said.

    In the long term, Sky Posse aims to shift flight routes away from Bay Area towns as much as possible, not just Palo Alto, according to Kellerman.

    “We need to have a redesign of our airspace,” Kellerman said.

    In the meantime, Sky Posse will continue to petition the local government to take action and may attend City Council meetings in the future, according to Landesmann

    “Our city is going to have to fight really hard,” Landesmann said.

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