A jet flies over a home off of Bundy Drive as it makes its way to Santa Monica Airport. A majority of City Council candidates said they would be in favor of closing it or curtailing operations. (File photo)

SMO — Measure D, a pro-Santa Monica Airport measure, failed at the polls on Tuesday but the airport was still there on Wednesday morning and it’s probably not going anywhere anytime soon.

In the meantime, residents in the surrounding neighborhoods are frustrated by the amount of noise created by the jets, planes, and helicopters.

Despite a decline in noise violations, noise complaints from residents rose last year, according to the 2013 Annual Noise Report, released by the Santa Monica Airport Commission last month.

Remote monitoring stations are located about 1,500 feet from the runway and they report any aircraft that exceeds 95 A-weighted decibels (dBA).

In 2013, there were 134 noise violations, a decrease of 14 percent from the 155 noise violations recorded the year prior, according to the commission’s report.

Longtime opponent of the airport Martin Rubin, who runs Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution (CRAAP), claims that the noise monitoring systems do a bad job of accurately capturing how noisy it is in the neighborhoods.

There are too few monitors, he said.

Others have noted that while they pick up very loud noises, they don’t register repeated noises, like the propeller planes that circle the airport.

“The whole system is counter-intuitive,” Rubin said. “It’s the most absurd thing in the world to think that noise violations are going to be reflective of what actually goes on. It’s a one-dimensional picture of a three-dimensional situation.”

In 2013, there were the fewest number of recorded violations since 2010 and the second-fewest recorded in the past decade.

Despite the decline in violations, which resulted in $55,000 worth of fines and three banned aircraft, complaints from residents rose.

There were 4,368 noise complaints in 2012 and 5,137 in 2013.

May was the month with the most complaints (1,016) followed by June (782). Complaints dipped in the last three months of the year; there were 235 complaints in October, November, and December combined.

Not all complaints received from the Airport Noise Management department had to do with noise. In fact, one-third mentioned the fumes created by the planes. Departure noise made up a quarter of the complaints while arrival noise totaled 4 percent, according to the report.

Aircraft can land at SMO 24 hours a day but City Hall has created a voluntary night arrival curfew, asking pilots not to land between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. on weekends and holidays.

Only 221 landings broke the voluntary curfew in 2013, the lowest total in at least a decade. This is a 17 percent decrease from 2012. The number of late landings has been steadily decreasing. Most of the 2013 violations were from propeller planes and occurred between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.

While the landing curfew is voluntary, the take-off curfew is not. There were 21 departures after curfew in 2013, up one from the year prior. There are certain exemptions to the curfew, for instance in the case of emergencies, and only eight of the departures were found to have violated the Municipal Code.

There were 703 different households that registered complaints in 2013 but majority of the calls were made by 58 households, which averaged at least 65 complaints apiece.

Some airport proponents have pointed to this number as proof that there are a couple dozen households that flood the system with noise complaints to make a point.

“That’s a ridiculous claim,” Rubin said. “People are busy. They have better things to do with their time then to call in with complaints.”

Rubin said that he hasn’t made a complaint in the past three months.


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