What are your thoughts about drone regulation in Atherton?
At the July 6, 2016 City Council Study Session, the Council discussed regulations surrounding small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) also known as "drones." There is a tremendous amount of information and regulatory framework both at the Federal level as well as the State level on this issue.
The Federal Government fully "occupies the field" and preempts local regulations related to commercial drone activity at any height, but provides that local agencies may regulate drone activity for non-commercial activity below a certain elevation (typically 400 feet). Here's a link to the Staff Report from the July 6 Agenda.
The Staff Report is short, but there are numerous attachments - these include:
- Memorandum from the City Attorney on Drone Regulation
- Press Release - Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Rules on sUAS
- Advisory Circular on Drone Regulation
- FAA Rule - Operation of sUAS
- Fact Sheet - Small Unmanned Aircraft Regulations
- Voluntary Best Practices for sUAS
- FAA - Summary of Small Unmanned Aircraft Rule
The July 6, 2016 Study Session was not well attended by members of the community. While the City Council directed the City Attorney to prepare an ordinance for consideration by the Council that addresses, to the maximum extent possible under Federal law, the operation of sUAS in Atherton, specifically covering issues related to privacy and noise, additional community feedback is always welcome. The Council discussed the merits of a flat ban on all drone activity and then discussed further how drones are used by children in the Park, or by wedding photographers, or by realtors selling properties, and other uses. The Council wants to ensure that any ordinance adopted is fair in its regulation, but also fair in its application.
I anticipate the ordinance returning to the City Council for consideration in the fall, but this Open Town Hall topic is being created to solicit community feedback on the issue and any specific concerns that you would like addressed in that ordinance. The ordinance would address hobbyist use of drones only - not commercial use or public safety use. These uses are regulated at the Federal level.
Thanks for taking the time to give us your feedback!
Town of Atherton