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Issue date: June 23, 2000

FAA plan still controversial FAA plan still controversial (June 23, 2000)

City council question noise levels and safety

By Greg Kozocas

An FAA proposal to route San Francisco-bound jets over Mountain View has raised the hackles of residents and caught the attention of city officials, who have concerns about noise and regional safety.

The controversial proposal, which has drawn criticism from other Bay Area lawmakers, including San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzalez and Sunnyvale officials, is now being criticized by Mountain View residents, who say the plan needs a second look.

The plan was developed to enable two planes to land simultaneously at San Francisco International Airport's two main runways during bad weather. But to use the system, planes must approach SFO from considerably south of the current flight pattern, which converges over Palo Alto and Menlo Park.

Under the new pattern, planes arriving from the north, west and south would fly at 6,000 feet or more over Mountain View, Sunnyvale and San Jose to a point just north of Milpitas, before they turn onto the glidepath into SFO.

Under the current system, when fog or other weather systems impair visibility, planes must revert to a slow, single file flight path into the airport, which causes major delays in airline schedules.

The current plan was recently approved by the Airport/Community Roundtable, which accepted an environmental assessment of the new route. However, the FAA has not yet completed its evaluation.

At the a city council meeting earlier this month, members voted to authorize Mayor Rosemary Stasek to send a comment to the organization which prepared the draft environmental assessment.

Stasek said there has been poor communication with Mountain View. She indicated the study was flawed because it did not assess whether there would be interference with air traffic from San Jose International Airport or Moffett Field.

City officials and environmentalists in nearby cities, including Sunnyvale and San Jose, have complained that the FAA has not evaluated the environmental impact of the plan on South Bay communities.

The environmental assessment accepted by the roundtable is a draft, and is still open for public comment through July 7. After that date, the FAA will consider all comments received and determine the next step in the environmental review process for the project. The FAA hopes to complete the reroute plan by August 2001.


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