Accusing the FAA of persistently failing to address the negative impacts of overflights of aircraft headed to LAX, L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer announced Tuesday he is suing the agency, challenging recent changes affecting incoming aircraft flying over mid-City and central Los Angeles.
“The FAA’s changes allegedly were done without proper environmental review or public input and represent the latest example of FAA’s persistent failure to address noise and other negative impacts from aircraft overflights in those areas,” Feuer said in a statement.
The city’s petition also challenges the FAA’s recent decision to limit public comment on flight procedures, and require members of the public who submit online comment to FAA’s flight procedures website regarding the environmental consequences of proposed flight procedures to acknowledge the FAA won’t take those comments into account.
“The FAA made changes to a major flight path over Los Angeles without ever considering the environmental consequences of those actions. Then the agency sought to curtail public comment on the FAA’s own flight procedures website, including compelling members of the public to agree their input on the environmental impacts of proposed flight procedures won’t count, as a condition of commenting on those procedures in the first place,” said Feuer.
“Those decisions must not stand. We’re fighting to give L.A. residents the chance to engage on a major issue affecting their quality of life, and, ideally, to create opportunities to find real solutions to noise and other concerns. And we’re fighting for the American public’s right to have their comments on FAA actions actually matter.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti weighed into the issue, asserting that “Angelenos should be informed, heard, and presented with options for relief when flight path changes affect their communities. This did not happen when FAA implemented the new North Downwind Arrival flight path, and this lawsuit demands that the agency better engage the public and help protect our residents’ quality of life.”
Council President Herb Wesson said that since May 2017, “we have been working with city, state and federal officials to mitigate the non-stop disruptions to our constituents created by the FAA’s implementation of the NextGen Metroplex program. It’s unfortunate that it has come to a lawsuit, but I will do everything in my power to protect my constituents and their quality of life.”
Three years ago, as part of FAA’s implementation of the Southern California Metroplex, FAA changed flight patterns for aircraft landing at LAX, including consolidating flight patterns over West Adams and other communities in mid-City and central Los Angeles, causing significant noise and other environmental impacts, according to the city statement. In May 2018, FAA made further changes to this flight arrival pattern, but allegedly failed to perform the required environmental review or seek public comment.
Los Angeles previously asked the FAA to address a series of specific changes sought by the City to at least partially provide some relief to residents, including: ensuring that during nighttime hours aircraft remain at the minimum altitudes established by the FAA itself — pilots and air traffic controllers routinely have disregarded those minimum altitudes; that the FAA instruct pilots to remain at higher altitudes when they are allowed to deviate from the established arrival pattern; and that the FAA give a date certain by which it would implement new technology the agency claims would ensure aircraft strictly comply with the established arrival pattern and minimum altitudes — a step the City believes the FAA should have implemented three years ago when it first established these new flight patterns as part of the Metroplex.
To date, these negotiations have been unsuccessful, and with the time to bring legal action against the FAA fast approaching, the City filed its lawsuit, the statement said, adding that, in its legal action, L.A. will state that the FAA failed to comply with its own procedures and to properly consider all of the environmental impacts of the changes to its flight procedures for aircraft arriving at LAX.
The City will seek a court order compelling the FAA to complete an environmental review of the changes to the flight patterns, including taking comment from residents on noise and other quality of life issues, and to examine alternatives to the currently implemented flight path over Los Angeles neighborhoods in order to address any impacts, the statement said.
The lawsuit was filed Friday in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
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