Noisy publicity doesn’t fly in beach cities

first_imgBy Andrea Woodhouse STAFF WRITER Nothing ruins Victoria Peters’ summertime pastime of losing herself in a good book like the rrrrr-rumble of a plane overhead. And the disruption is even worse when the offending aircraft is dragging a long banner hawking beer or cars behind it, says the Manhattan Beach resident. Manhattan officials have joined with other South Bay beach cities to try to find a way to curb the disruption, getting a commitment to join the fight from Hermosa Beach and El Segundo, already an old hand at battling airplane noise. Redondo Beach officials were not available for comment. “We’re certainly familiar with airliners taking off and making early turns from LAX, but any kind of aircraft making a turn over a population – whether it be a beach, The Strand or inland – is a concern,” said El Segundo Mayor Kelly McDowell. Manhattan and Hermosa are exploring the feasibility of an ordinance banning the planes, but City Attorney Bob Wadden seemed less than optimistic Tuesday about that possibility. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2002 upheld an aerial advertising ban in Honolulu, but that decision was based largely on the fact that Federal Aviation Administration-issued operating permits there stated that aircraft must understand and respect local law, Wadden said. Though the Honolulu ban stands today, the FAA since then has deleted that element from its operating permits, he said. Several years ago, Huntington Beach tried a similar ban, but was promptly sued and rescinded its ordinance. About the same time, Hermosa Beach abandoned plans for a prohibition. Two weeks ago, Wadden sent a letter to FAA attorneys asking for a formal opinion of the Honolulu ban’s applicability to Manhattan Beach. “It’s certainly very unclear how far the FAA is willing to let us ago,” Wadden said. “Their acquiescence is absolutely essential.” FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said Wednesday: “The FAA is looking into the matter at the behest of Manhattan Beach and, at this point, I can’t comment further.” In the meantime, the South Bay beach cities are looking into other ways to put pressure on the planes that drag advertisements, as well as the companies that pay them. Manhattan Beach leaders also discussed Tuesday if they could limit the number of times a plane could circle overhead, cap banner size or force planes to fly higher than the FAA-regulated 1,000 feet over land and 500 feet over sea. In the wake of 9-11, Pasadena, with the help of its congressman, successfully pushed to have aircraft fly at least 3,000 feet over events with more than 30,000 people, said Manhattan Beach police Chief Rod Uyeda, who formerly worked with the Pasadena Police Department. Manhattan Beach has also enlisted help from Rep. Jane Harman, D-El Segundo, as well as the South Bay Cities Council of Governments. City officials were set to discuss the topic at this week’s League of California Cities conference in Sacramento. Already, Hermosa Beach Mayor Michael Keegan is considering creating an online blog that singles out the offending planes and advertisers. “Basically, we’ll get some feedback from the residents and see what ads people see and maybe they won’t buy their products,” he said. “We’re not into that form of advertising: It’s noisy, pollution-laden, and an invasion of space and privacy. ? We’ve fought LAX jet noise and prop planes for years, and now we’re going to get in an advertising war.” But the beach cities might be getting a step ahead of themselves by hitting advertisers first, said Mike Lacey, owner of The Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, an aerial advertiser of nearly 30 years. “Residents should call whoever is advertising and say, `We don’t want to stop using your product, but you have to change the way you’re doing this. Why should I support something that isn’t respecting me?”‘ Lacey maintained that the plane company he employs, Torrance-based Star Ads, was respectful of local communities – otherwise, he wouldn’t use the medium. The only aerial ad company licensed to use Torrance Municipal Airport, Star Ads requires its pilots to take off at a 45-degree angle toward Redondo Beach, said owner Mario Lopez. Once pilots hit the shoreline, they turn off the planes’ engines and drop to 500 feet, Lopez said. After hitting Malibu, the pilots turn around over the sea back toward Redondo Beach. There, they head out farther to sea and spiral back up to about 1,200feet before turning back to the Torrance airport, Lopez said. A South Bay native, Lopez believes the aircraft Manhattan Beach residents were complaining about are based out of the Oxnard Airport. They haul long banners that require more horsepower and thus create more noise, he said. With a fleet of three planes and five pilots, Lopez keeps his banners clean and limits them to 30 by 90 feet. He also tells advertisers to stick to smaller sizes or risk annoying their audience – and intended customers. “I live in the community and I know the community,” he said. “I could have flown the smut banners and big banners but I don’t think I’d be in business. I don’t like noisy cars, so why would I force noisy planes on people?” Lopez attended last month’s Association of Volleyball Professionals tournament in Manhattan Beach, and was appalled to see planes flying over the stadium at altitudes as low as 600feet by his estimates. That same day, Gary McAulay felt like pilots were using his Third Street home as their turning point. The noise was “horrendous,” the longtime Manhattan Beach resident said. “If you went to Tahiti or Martinique and you’re enjoying the beautiful, natural beauty, you don’t want to see a beer ad going by,” McAulay said. “Why should Manhattan Beach be any different? The beach is our treasure.” [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “It’s enough noise that if I’m reading and get that delicious sleepy feeling, and am about to nod off,” Peters said, “you’re awakened by the airplane.” The 30-year Manhattan Beach resident isn’t the only one bristled by the ubiquitous ads. After a season of skies buzzing with aerial advertising, the South Bay beach cities are fed up with the noisy planes, which leaders said this year were more plentiful, noisy and encroaching than ever before. “Somehow in the last few years, it wasn’t this bad,” Manhattan Beach Councilman Richard Montgomery said. “Something happened. ? It’s been a higher number of planes, they’re flying more often.” Manhattan Beach officials Tuesday aired their grievances over the ad-dragging planes, which of late have strayed from their usual oceanfront paths, instead flying over the city and circling over sandside events, they said. last_img