Santa Barbara Airport Director Chris Hastert and other airport staff addressed the Goleta City Council and community members Wednesday evening, as residents have been complaining about increased airport noise during the past couple of years.

“I want to open up communications with the City of Goleta staff, with the council and with the community, and not just for Goleta, also for the unincorporated areas, city of Santa Barbara residents, and anybody that has any questions about the airport — whether it be about noise, programs, projects, anything,” Hastert said. “I really want to be very transparent with what’s going on at the airport.”

Hastert discussed the different approaches and departures that airlines use, and the voluntary noise abatement procedures.

He said that some of the outreach the airport does to inform airlines and pilots of these programs include using a program called Whispertrack — which allows airports to put in information that is sent to the major website and devices pilots use.

Other possible areas of improvement that Hastert mentioned include increased community engagement, looking at what departure procedures airlines and pilots are using, and more.

Sara Iza, a development manager at the airport, gave information on the airport’s capital improvement program and future projects, including the master plan update, the terminal expansion and parking structure project, and a new noise analysis.

“There has been nothing more frustrating to the city than to have people come here almost every meeting in public comment in the beginning of the meeting to express their concern and how unhappy they are with the state of all the flights at all hours — not just early morning — and us having to say, ‘Well, here’s the number to call [to complain],’” Mayor Paula Perotte said. “Then we all felt we need to do more.”

Gregory Goodsell, the airport operations supervisor, said he has gone through about 18,000 complaints called into the airport regarding noise.

“We understand there’s a noise concern,” Hastert said. “There’s no fine that we can give a pilot. There’s no repercussions if they didn’t follow our voluntary noise abatement procedures, but what [the complaint system] does is it just gives us the information to find out who are these pilots that are regularly using the airport and see if we can do better outreach. … I think ultimately the goal is really to see what outreach we can do to mitigate some of these flights that are currently coming in.” 

Several community members also had a chance to air their concerns directly to the council and airport director during the public comment period of Wednesday’s meeting.

“I’ve been in my home since 1963, so I’m really familiar with the airport pattern,” public commenter Joni Goode said. “Over the years, the planes would occasionally deviate from the preferred noise abatement corridor, and we’d consider it a minor annoyance. In the last two years, this has become the norm rather than the deviation. It affects quality of life.”

Other people expressed concerns regarding noise and air pollution, and suggested that a group should be formed to monitor and report pollution.

One public commenter, a retired United Airlines captain, said he is eager to work with the airport on noise abatement, especially as he said he had trouble working collaboratively with the previous airport director.

“I offered several solutions which are very easy to institute,” Rob Bonomo said. “I know that if we use the procedures that I suggested to our previous airport director — which were available and still are available — that we can substantially reduce the number of complaints that you folks are receiving about this airport. … There are many things we can do to make this a very well-accepted airport in terms of our community and our passengers coming in and out of it.” 

Santa Barbara County Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann also spoke during public comment, sharing how noise complaints from the airport are the topic of most of the complaints called into her office.

Hartmann suggested working with the Santa Barbara City Council as well as to consider incentivizing pilots and airlines to use noise abatement procedures.

No action was taken during the meeting, and Hastert closed by saying that he is “open to all ideas” and to working with the community on this issue.

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