Calling it a “win-win” for the Federal Aviation Administration and the public, Quiet Skies Idyllwild is demanding that the agency redirect upwards of 250 commercial jets that fly over Idyllwild each day. QSI wants the jets rerouted to a more southerly flight path over Temecula.
QSI spokesperson David Pearson said two hundred jets a day currently fly over that city, located southwest of Idyllwild, east of Camp Pendleton, and near Interstate 15 and Highway 79 interchange.
FAA implemented new arrival and departure paths at the Los Angeles International Airport resulting in a 25-fold increase in the number of audible commercial jets traveling east-bound directly over Idyllwild, according to QSI. Prior to March 2, 2017, roughly ten commercial jets a day flew over Idyllwild on an east-bound route from LAX.
QSI’s most recent data show that 196 commercial jets flew over the Hill February 17 — compared to only 15 jets two years ago.
“QSI…demands…[that] the FAA cancel DOTSS2.CLEEE, (pronounced SEE-lee), for health and safety reasons for a half-million people, routing traffic to other existing routes over the largely uninhabited lands south of the Mt. San Jacinto massif,” Pearson said.
“Inland from the coastal Santa Ana Mountains, approximately 600,000 people live under the DOTSS2-CLEEE route…in Idyllwild, and cities such as Perris, Menifee, Hemet, San Jacinto, Palm Desert, La Quinta, Indio and Coachella.”
Pearson said, “In addition to having exposed half-a-million more Californians to over-flight noise and air pollution, the route adversely affects the quality of life of Idyllwild residents…we experience prolonged noise interruption…and the peace and quiet of the surrounding mountain wilderness is disrupted. In the event of severe, inclement weather conditions on Mt. San Jacinto, traffic is often shifted southwards from DOTSS2-CLEEE to DOTSS2-CNERY.”
“By shunting [the flights] to DOTSS2.CNERY [about 20 miles to the south] there would be a less than one percent increase in distance travelled (relevant for jet fuel consumption and carbon footprint), making this a “win-win” for the FAA and the public.”
Responding to Town Crier questions about the impact of more than doubling the number of commercial jet flights over Temecula, Pearson, said, “Yes, there would be an increase in over-flights of Temecula. Temecula and its 114,000 residents are situated under DOTSS2-CNERY.
However, these flights would not number any more than they were already experiencing pre-March 2017 … when the flight burden in the Temecula-Murrieta zone was between 400 to 500 daily. Temecula does not experience the noise reverberation from over-flights which plagues us here on the bowl-shaped western slopes of Mt. San Jacinto.
“In the bigger picture, planes routed on DOTSS2.CLEEE … fly over communities with 600,000 populations, whereas the alternative existing DOTSS2.CNERY route passes only over roughly 114,000 persons. We hope to build a consensus with elected officials of the affected communities, leading to FAA’s re-analysis of alternative routes, routing traffic away from cities and over largely uninhabited lands south of the Mt. San Jacinto massif.
“Perhaps the FAA can design a modified route just south of Temecula which would make the shift even more compelling for safety and noise pollution considerations.”
QSI Public meeting
About 50 Hill residents and Peter Carlstrom, Field Representative for Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D., were on hand to hear QSI’s “win-win’ solution at the group’s Town Hall meeting on March 2, the second anniversary of the day FAA’s NextGen began routing hundreds of flights over the Hill.
Carlstrom participated in the program on behalf of Congressman Ruiz, reading Ruiz’s letter thanking QSI for their “tireless advocacy” and lauding their “grassroots activism as a source of personal inspiration…You can consider me an ally.”
In his letter, Ruiz went on to say: “My family and I have personally come to rely upon our mountain communities for reprieve from the faster pace of the Coachella Valley. I will continue fighting to ensure that other families are afforded the same opportunity to experience the tranquility that one finds when immersed in the beauty of nature.”
Ruiz’s letter said he found the FAA’s response to questions he posed in June 2018 “‘unsatisfactory.’ I remain unconvinced that adequate consideration was given to the unique geographical and topographical characteristics of this region when establishing their new flight path,” he wrote.
As recently as February 6 in an email to a QSI member, the Agency continued to stand behind findings from its environmental analyses--that the new route over the Hill would not have any significant impacts to people, historic properties, parks or other applicable environmental resources.
Ruiz’s letter stated that he had joined the Quiet Skies Caucus in Congress, and “would continue working to reduce aircraft noise in our district and across the nation.” He reiterated his earlier concerns as a physician…and “as an admirer of the pristine beauty that Idyllwild represents to us all.
“Flight noise in Idyllwild and the surrounding communities poses a serious health risk to residents—costing them sleep and peace of mind—while simultaneously disrupting our local ecosystems. I will continue working toward meaningful solutions in 2019!”
As a part of the program, musicians Peter Davison, Keith McCabe, and Bill Sheppard; Forester Deborah Geisinger; retired Aeronautical Engineer Ygnacio “Nacho” Garcia; and hiking/biking and/or walking enthusiasts Julie Koppel and Pamela Mayfield presented testimony about how the over-flights have affected them.
Unable to be present, business-owner Helen Hixon and musician-songwriter Jeff Hixon sent written comments on NextGen. Audience members asked questions and added their concerns to QSI’s overall slate of issues, which include: noisy over-flights and disruption of personal, professional, creative, family, visitor and outdoor activities; air and water pollution; changes in wildlife behavior, threats to business and tourism, and pressure on property values.
Pearson displayed photographs of Idyllwild skies with contrails from jet over-flights, and graphics comparing the unwanted flight path over Idyllwild to the one being demanded of FAA. Musician-songwriter Terry Jo Stratton performed “Quiet Skies” to close out the meeting.
UC Davis “2019 Airplane Noise and Emissions Symposium”
QSI demands of FAA had an audience the following day, Sunday, March 3 in Jacksonville, Florida at the University of California, Davis’ 3-day “2019 Airplane Noise and Emissions Symposium,” the goal of which was “developing ways to work cooperatively to mitigate the environmental impacts of NextGen flight path changes.”
Several FAA officials were scheduled to attend and/or present at the conference, including Kevin Welsh, Executive Director of FAA, Office of Environment and Energy, and representatives of the National Organization to Insure a Sound-Controlled Environment (NOISE), an advocate for noise-affected communities and an affiliate of the National League of Cities.
Pearson said although he did not attend, FAA officials “would be able to hear Idyllwild’s case during the ‘Community Group Annual Gathering.’ We’re trying to bring back the peace and quiet that we all cherish up here.”
During spring 2018, QSI members Sheppard and McCabe had begun to hear, see and feel the effects of the increased commercial jets flying over Idyllwild. In April 2018, The Town Crier investigated their complaints, linking them to NextGen’s new aircraft routing procedures deployed between November 2016 and April 2017 at LAX and other airports in California and around the nation. Sheppard and McCabe’s initial detection of the increased over-flights led to the creation of QSI in May 2018.
The Quiet Skies Idyllwild Team meets from 3 to 4 pm at Café Aroma on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of each month. Pearson said, “We will have dial-in possibility for each meeting and the number and access code will remain the same for the foreseeable future. Those of you who wish to use the conference call-in number, please dial (641) 715-3580 and then enter 203313# when instructed.” For more information, email [email protected]