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Airport called on to silence ‘unrelenting’ airplane noise

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An Air France Airbus A380 heads past the control tower shortly after take off at San Francisco International Airport on Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

In response to relentless complaints from residents over noise from airplanes taking off from San Francisco International Airport, Supervisor Ahsha Safai is now calling for flight pattern changes.

He requested a hearing Tuesday at the Board of Supervisor to address what he said was more than eight years of noise complaints stemming from new flight patterns at SFO impacting those living in San Francisco’s southern neighborhoods, like the Excelsior, Outer Mission, Portola and Bayview-Hunters Point.

As a member of the SFO Roundtable, a voluntary committee to address airport noise, Safai said he has “sat through meetings where people are virtually losing their mind and their sanity. They come in tears, they come with distress, they come talking about how their children’s lives have been disrupted and peacefulness has been disrupted.”

He said these residents have “had their homes barraged by airport noise and this is unrelenting.”

The hearing is expected to occur next month before the board’s Land Use and Transportation Committee. Safai said he wants the Airport Commission and SFO officials to participate.

“We want to talk about not just generating income at the airport but also how we are impacting peoples live and how we can have a thoughtful conversation about changing these flight patterns in an aggressive way,” Safai said.

SFO’s spokesperson Doug Yakel said that “the FAA NextGen system, known as Metroplex, has caused increased community impacts in San Francisco neighborhoods and South Bay communities as planes are directed to fly over the same path with more precision and consistency than before.”

Departing flights from SFO are routed between Brisbane and the southern portion of San Francisco.

Yakel said that the airport has had an SFO Noise Insulation Program in place since the 1980s that has outfitted 15,200 homes and other structures with soundproofing, but acknowledged a recent increase in complaints about noise.

“We have been hearing from residents of a need to address two issues which were not covered by the original Noise Insulation Program,” Yakel said.

Those two issues include repair or replacement of noise insulation that has failed due to normal wear and tear, and properties that were not insulated “because owners failed to respond, or declined participation and subsequently wish to receive insulation.”

Safai said the airport needs to do more to address the noise issue. “Our airport folks have put aside enough money to possibly upgrade and insulate maybe 10 homes in the entire peninsula area,” Safai said. “This is something that needs to be taken more seriously.”

Yakel said that the airport launched on July 1 the “Replacement and Second Chance Noise Insulation Program,” which would be funded by $1 million annually “to assist about 30 homes per year through this program.”


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