Sometimes citizens actually do turn out in droves

To the Editor:

Thank you for giving space and consideration to the “Musings” column on the failure of city government to do a good job of informing citizens about plans to bring change to communities [The Argonaut, May 1st, “How much does the average homeowner’s voice matter?”

To be fair,Ýit is not easy to make working people take action. When there are children in the home and both parents are working, time for civic affairs is severely limited. The reason they do not turn out for every meeting is simply that they do not have the time.

But every once inÝa while something hits an extra sensitive button and the body politic stands back in amazement as citizens turn out in droves to make their point. In Venice, even the Neighborhood Council gets surprised when hundreds turn out to reject a fine hotel or express their opinion about fences.

Columns like this one will, I hope, bring more attention to this issue of making citizens aware of proposals in time to proceed in orderly fashion with the support of the community. Our elected officials, from Neighborhood Councils to the Presidency need and want support.

It’s ironic, isn’t it, that the AgeÝof Instant Information can’t make citizens aware in time. So thanks again for calling attention to the problem.

DeDe Audet, Oxford Triangle, Venice

FAA’s work demonstrates disregard for aviation safety

To the Editor:

In the May 1st issue of The Argonaut, the news story “Federal court puts council’s ban of faster jets on hold,” quoted the FAA’s cease-and-desist order:

“Your [Santa Monica’s] enforcement of the ordinance on April 24th can only be interpreted as an attempt to divest the FAA of its jurisdiction over the administrative process to which the city, as a federally obligated airport, must adhere.

“Moreover, your attempt to enforce the city’s ordinance also suggests a complete disregard for the FAA’s authority and responsibility as the final arbiter of aviation safety in the National Air Transportation System.”

My response is that the FAA’s authority and position as “the final arbiter” is best exemplified by its work, which demonstrates a disregard for aviation safety, as evidenced by:

— understaffing tower controllers and changing their work rules to insist that they work even if tired;

— ongoing failures to maintain radar and tracking equipment;

— hiding studies that showed increasing incursion trends;

— failure to adequately police aircraft maintenance; and

— failure to implement long-needed collision avoidance technology such as runway status lights (and on-board systems).

Steven Pawera

Playa Vista

From atop a telephone pole EMU tells the truth about noise near the airports

To the Editor:

Residents who live in the vicinity of Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport were described as “noise-weary” in a recent Los Angeles Times article. I can relate. I live a half-mile from one of the Los Angeles Inernational Airport (LAX) runways.

In the past year I have noticed a dramatic increase in airplane noise. I wondered whether our EMU had noticed. What’s an EMU, you ask? The emu I knew about was a bird, a large non-flying Australian bird. The kind of EMU we have in our yard is an “environmental monitoring unit.”

Perched high on top of a telephone pole, our EMU is a microphone with five wires sticking out of its top. In our neighborhood, there are six EMUs installed and monitored by Los Angeles WorldÝAirports.

To learn more about our EMU, I called the Noise Management Division at Los Angeles World Airports and spoke to a man whose office monitors 40 EMUs installed in the Los Angeles area. He explained that the job of the EMU is to record, store and download sound levels consistent with air traffic, and to accurately define noise contours to determine whether a resident is entitled to sound insulation.

He also confirmed that the runway closest to our house was indeed experiencing an “altered noise contour.” In other words, it was noisier and I had become “noise-weary.”

My loss of sleep, jangled nerves, and distracted concentration motivated me to learn more about airport noise pollution. My research revealed that international studies have found that exposure to airport noise can cause not just sleep disruption and irritability, but heartburn, indigestion, ulcers, high blood pressure, and possibly heart disease.

When the old Munich, Germany airport was closed and moved to a new location, tests done on third- and fourth-graders found that the children scored lower on tests of memory and reading closer to the airport, and improved farther from the airport.

Blood tests revealed an even more disturbing picture. Children living near the Munich airports had higher blood pressure than children in quieter neighborhoods, adding to their risk of having a heart attack or stroke later in life.

After runway patterns were changed at an airport in Australia, researchers found that people whose neighborhoods had become quieter were less anxious, angry and depressed than people whose neighborhoods had suddenly become noisier.

When I phoned the Noise Management Division at LAX, I confess I was more than curious to know if the EMU could pick up more than the sound of airplanes — i.e. our conversations. Reassuringly, EMUs pick up only sounds consistent with airplane noise — for example, the gardener’s power mower, the teenager’s boom box, and our neighbor departing on his Harley. But, then again, try to imagine having a conversation while standing next to a mower, a boom box, or a Harley.

Beginning in the 1960s, the City of Los Angeles began a longstanding program of purchasing houses from “noise-weary” homeowners. By the early 1970s, 4,500 homes were bulldozed, displacing 14,000 residents. In addition to the homes, two schools were sold to the airport, closed and demolished. Both are now parking lots. Another school was closed in 2004 and sold to the airport.

Ask an EMU the truth about airport noise. Not only is it annoying; not only does it cause serious short- and long-term health problems, but airport noise has become a cunning method to acquire more land.

Pamela Beere Briggs, Westchester

Questions city priorities in cul-de-sac parking tickets

To the Editor:

At a time when the City of Los Angeles is advocating dramatic increases in density (with resultant traffic gridlock and overtaxing of our infrastructure), seeking to reduce parking requirements for residences, failing to stop large vehicles and trailers from blocking street access views, and has insufficient officers in the streets to address the recurring burglary problems in our neighborhoods, city parking enforcement has stealthily ticketed all of the cars in our cul-de-sacs during the night which were safely, but illegally head-on parked.

Great PR! We still support you, but wish you’d get your priorities straight.

Denny Schneider, Westchester