Grand Jury Critiques SFO Noise Monitoring

San Mateo County Grand Jury report says county officials should revamp roundtable tasked with overseeing airport noise.

The San Mateo County Grand Jury today released a report calling for broader noise monitoring at San Francisco International Airport and better response to county residents concerned with aircraft noise.

The 2010-2011 Grand Jury examined whether the SFO Roundtable, a regional committee tasked with monitoring noise, is “operating effectively to ensure that San Mateo County residents are not unduly impacted by aircraft noise.”

SFO’s carriers have increased air traffic to the chagrin of residents who live under their flight path, the report said.

“For example, changes in departure patterns over Brisbane have generated strong protests from residents who assert that their quality of life is being adversely impacted,” the report said. “Increased night flights over San Bruno, South San Francisco and Daly City are also of major concern to those communities, especially when the flights depart directly over residential areas that did not participate or were not eligible for the noise insulation program.”

Vice Mayor Marge Colapietro, who represents Millbrae on the roundtable, said Brisbane representatives and residents have brought their concerns to the roundtable and members are planning a meeting in Brisbane.

“We have people from Brisbane come and talk to us about the noise in their community and we don’t take these (concerns) lightly,” Colapietro said.

After San Mateo County designated SFO a noise nuisance in 1971, the city and county created the SFO Roundtable a decade later to work cooperatively on mitigating aircraft noise.

In 2010 SFO served more than 39 million passengers on about 387,000 flights, the report said.

Despite the large task of keeping tabs on SFO’s noise, the jury found sparse public participation and fleeting enthusiasm in the roundtable, which includes 17 elected officials from county cities.

The roundtable meets quarterly at Millbrae City Hall, down from a monthly schedule, and Daly City has withdrawn from the group, the report said. 

Colapietro said she has not seen a decline in interest. “We usually have very good representation from all the cities,” she said.

The group's schedule doesn’t stop the SFO Roundtable from meeting if there’s a reason, Colapietro said, adding that Daly City withdrew from the roundtable due to budget problems.

The Grand Jury recommended that county officials spearhead revitalization of the roundtable, pointing out that SFO, although owned and operated by the city and county of San Francisco, lies wholly within unincorporated San Mateo County.

The report said that airport noise is primarily evaluated using a federal standard that measures average noise over a 24-hour period.

“A community or residence could therefore experience numerous severe noise events in a day, but unless the average noise level over a 24 hour period exceeded the standard, it would not be considered a problem,” the report said.

The jury recommended that the roundtable broaden their focus to cover “single aircraft noise events, particularly night departures, and request that the Noise Abatement Office deploy equipment to measure and monitor both single events and structural vibration.”

Furthermore, the grand jury recommends that several Peninsula cities, including Millbrae, form local Citizens Advisory Committees to work with their elected members of the SFO Roundtable.

Colapietro said Millbrae had a similar committee set up dating back to the ‘80s, but committee members decided to disband about two years ago due to lack of business, including noise complaints.

Stanley Williams July 07, 2011 at 07:06 PM
Jesus christ people. If you move next to an airport you will hear planes. The airport was built in the 1910's and started a full blown schedule in the 50's. This happened in my old neighborhood in sacramento. there has been a racetrack there for 50+years. a new track of homes gets put up and the people who bought the homes created a comitee to get the track shut down. The same group tried to do the same thing with Mather airport the grand jury in sacremanto county had the common sense to say hey you bought a house near a racetrack and an airport, thats your tough titty. If you dont want the noise move where it isnt noisey. USE COMON SENSE I live just slightly under the flight path in Sunshine gardens and occasionally i have a plane turn out over my house. i dont run to this group and say it noisey i deal with it and know that i might hear an airplane if i have a house near a runway...again USE COMON SENSE PEOPLE!
Ann Schneider July 07, 2011 at 08:05 PM
Glad to hear they recommend checking into night noise. We live slightly up the hill in Millbrae opposite the runway planes use to warm up and for those cross wind takeoffs and there are a couple of planes that leave after midnight that shake the house and blast through the sound proofing windows. I've called the noise number with specific times and duration and they said "oh no planes that loud at that time'. We've lived here since the 70s and the house has been here since 1930 and this noise is much much louder that in the past.
Steve Hayes July 08, 2011 at 02:30 AM
The solution would be to build runways further out in the Bay - that would also eliminate the flight delays during bad weather. Move the runways further out and add more separation between the two runways - less noise and fewer delays.
Katheryn October 01, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Why don't they create statewide laws to protect we people from this type of noise pollution, when a City doesn't respond to the people's complaints? Whey isn't Gov. Brown and Attorney General Harris doing anything to stop this? Please click on the You Tube Link below and then watch the You Tube Video in the story. If you are as angry as many of us are then please add this video to your Facebook, we need to get the word out to the world. http://temecula.patch.com/articles/citizen-reader-shares-mining-sounds
Concerned Citizen March 05, 2013 at 09:31 PM
Use your brain! 1910?? Please! 1927! The terminal opened in 1954. The SFO Airport is expanding, and to accommodate that expansion, it is encroaching on areas that were never before impacted by the air traffic! Should the residents just keep moving outward, away from the plane noise? Did you know that the planes cause a terrible amount of pollution? That the noise affects the health of people? Should the health, safety, and well being of people be compromised for the greed of the airport? We cannot allow something that was started to provide us with a benefit, end up hurting us, just because they want to keep adding on more and more planes so they can make money! Your use of the phrase "common sense" is NOT applicable here! Our health should not take a backseat to the greed of the airport! There is a point when they have to say, "ENOUGH!" "The welfare of human beings is more important than our desire for more profit!"
Concerned Citizen March 05, 2013 at 09:41 PM
Yes, the noise has gotten much louder! On rainy days they have been rerouting the planes to come to our neighborhood in Millbrae, close to where you indicated you live. They start early, and keep going all through the day. I can feel the tension build up in my gut! They keep adding on more planes at the expense of the health of the residents! They add on more and more planes, and make more and more encroachments! That is not fair! We pay PREMIUM property taxes; and if this keeps up, they had better be lowered to reflect the kinds of neighborhoods that are airport towns, and pay lower taxes! I think we should keep track of the noise and subtract a good amount from our taxes to reflect the lowered quality of life, here in Millbrae!
Concerned Citizen March 05, 2013 at 09:48 PM
If the cities, and the airport won't respond; we need to start a class action suit against them ALL!
Concerned Citizen March 05, 2013 at 09:48 PM
Barb Valley March 05, 2013 at 10:39 PM
That sounds like a good idea, Steve, but in 2008 the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution that no additional fill should be placed in San Francisco Bay for new or reconfigured runways at San Francisco International Airport, ending a nearly decade long battle. You can thank Save The Bay, the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations for that. Should the SF Board of Supervisors indicate a change in policy you can bet these groups as well as the climate change alarmists will be up in arms. Now, if you could show a bird, frog, garter snake or the like were being adversly affected by the noise you might have a chance.
Rita Jang May 15, 2013 at 12:06 AM
I live in San Mateo the airplane noise is so annoying. Please do something about it. It is affecting people health. The noise is so frequent and it does not stop at night people need to sleep,


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