With the number of flights in and out of Santa Barbara Airport up by 36 percent over the last year for the month of January, complaints about commercial planes flying over residential neighborhoods have also risen. Traditionally, such flights have sought to avoid residential airspace, Santa Barbara’s City Council was told this Tuesday, but this practice has been strictly voluntary and not mandated.
Councilmember Michael Jordan broached the issue in response to complaints from residents of the Mesa, whom he represents. Airport representative Aaron Keller said the number of such intrusions remains very low but is still the subject of many complaints. At most, he said, the airport receives about 1,600 noise complaints a month, though typically, he added, the number is less. He also said the noise levels fall well within ambient sound requirements. But even if they didn’t, he noted, federal rules do not allow any sanctions for violations. If penalties could be imposed, he explained, that possibility might intrude on the decision-making process of pilots, possibly inducing them to make unsafe decisions.