Oceanside council moves toward drone regulations

OCEANSIDE — To fill in the enforcement gap between commercial drone operators regulated by the FAA and freewheeling recreational hobbyists, Oceanside is moving forward with city drone regulations.

Police Lt. Aaron Doyle shared collected complaints, and the need for local drone regulations at the Nov. 1 City Council meeting.

Doyle said there were 13 emergency calls about drone operations last year. This year there have been 23 calls.

Examples of local drone incidents ranged from interfering with firefighting to drones crashing into crowds.

In June a drone caused Oceanside firefighter air operations to stop for an hour.

In July an operator lost control of his drone at the pier, which caused it to fall and injure an unsuspecting person.

In August another operator lost control of his drone at the beach and caused a near miss in an outdoor crowd.

Doyle said in addition to public safety, a small percentage of drone operators misuse drones to stake out a home for a burglary or hover as a peeping Tom.

The growing popularity, lower cost and ease of use has increased drone traffic. From 2014 to 2015 drone purchases increased by 63 percent.

Federal regulations to guide commercial drone operators were adopted in 2016. These rules must be enforced by federal agents.

“FAA 107 does not apply to hobbyists,” Doyle said. “The result is an increasing number of incidents.”

Introduced city regulations mirror federal guidelines, deter stalking and invasion of privacy, and ensure public safety.

Regulations include rules about when and where drones can operate. They also state that operations must not interfere with aircraft. The person operating a drone also must have visual sight of it, in order to spot obstacles and hazards.

Drones can only be operated during daylight hours and they must be two miles away from active firefighting.

Other restrictions include that drones must be kept 25 feet from a person. The drone operator also may not record audio or video of a person on private property where a person expects privacy.

Other areas restricted from drone operations are schools through grade 12, city hall, police and fire stations, city parks, beaches, pier and special events.

“What’s not allowed is anything that is illegal, to annoy, pester or stalk,” Doyle said.

“If they’re not recording, and not flying over people, we have no concern there.”

Doyle said city police encourage positive recreational use. He added flying and filming over restricted spaces is allowed with a permit.

Councilwoman Esther Sanchez questioned restrictions over scenic public places. She asked that the cost of a permit be reasonable so the price does not impede artistic drone videography.

A price estimate of $150 for a permit was shared, which Sanchez said was too high.

“There’s a lot of creativity out there,” Sanchez said.

City staff said they would look into permit costs.

Also included in the regulations is a $1,000 fine for each offense, and possible impoundment of a drone. Lifeguards will be able to enforce drone regulations.

City Council voted 4-0 to accept the introduction of drone regulations Nov. 1. Council will vote to adopt regulations at a future meeting.

2 Comments
  1. Itzamm 2 weeks ago

    The City can regulate drones, but can’t do anything about airport safety & noise problems over neighborhoods (voters / taxpayers) that pre-date the airport, planes taking off in the wrong direction, flying dangerously low over homes? There’s no tower to enforce flight plans, violations, etc. The City’s taken no action on the more than 500 complaints, radar evidence of violations, tail numbers being reported, transponder hits. Reports to airport management fall on deaf ears, even the sky-diver who landed in the middle of Hwy. 76 was ignored. (Good thing he didn’t land on the windshield of a Mom taking kids home from school!) What’s it gonna take guys? When someone hits a rooftop or crashes in a neighborhood, you can’t say you didn’t know the dangers.

  2. Tim Broom 2 weeks ago

    Glad to see that myself and my small group are not the only ones that are bothered by these ongoing airport issues that the city has so far refused to resolve reasonably with resident tax payers in Oceanside. APV the airport management company and the city think that I am the ONLY one who complains.

    I have been taking the airport and city to task for years over the nuisance behavior over my neighborhood here in the Eastside. Instead of implementing procedures and communicating them to me and the neighborhood, the behavior only gets worse; the SkyJump company only increases operations and then excuses themselves in another newspaper by stating, ‘well, stuff happens’, and ‘I guess some people with cats might be bothered by all the noise in their homes’ when an issue is noted be it flyover or lost parachutist over state route 76.

    I have clearly documented and photographed aircraft flying within 100-200 ft of homes in this area. I have done so on video, and also utilizing aircraft radar – a local airport association has intimated to me that, it was has been ‘explained that the Flight Trackers now accessible on the web have a legal restriction. Information from radar and ADS-B and displayed on-line at flight tracker websights can’t (by law) be used for the discipline of pilots or aircraft owners/operators’. Does this sound like a disclaimer from the FAA to you as well? It sure does to me. So 300 international airports around the world are using bad data because Oceanside pilots say so?

    I have submitted complaints, the latest complaint was this morning when an aircraft that was within 100ft of my home flew overhead at 531am this morning. These early morning flyovers are both dangerous and a nuisance to property owners of Oceanside. Further, the pilot and aircraft in question may not have had their instruments properly configured for Oceanside airport resulting in incomplete data. When I have requested DVR video from the airport to aid in resolution of the problem, no answer is given. Would you think that this city asset would have working video of whom is using its runways, taxiways and fueling facilities?

    The city deems this behavior as acceptable as noted in their unwillingness or inability to implement process and procedure for aircraft that fly perilously close to homes. The excuses from airport management as well as offending pilots range from; the weather was bad, over to, well the pilot was unfamiliar with the area and that is why he flew so close to homes.

    Due to the high volume of dangerously low overflights and apparent lack of skill on the part of both SkyJump, who appears to have high employee turnover with pilots, and pilots who are not able to read the ‘notice to airmen’ we will have a catastrophe and it will be on the national news. Keeping your aircraft over the riverbed as stated in the notice to airmen is not difficult, you just have to want to do it.

    Please contact me if you would like further information concernedhomeownerseastsdie@gmail.com or to become one of our ground spotters.

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