Planes Above La Jolla Are Consistently Loud, Study Confirms

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Prompted by complaints from La Jolla residents, a new study released on Oct. 11 blames a perceived increase in aircraft noise over the last year on La Jolla’s topography and proximity to the ocean, although neither has changed significantly over the last year.

While the study claims that noise is caused because of how sound waves travel over the ocean and move over the hills of La Jolla, it does not offer any explanation as to why these reasons would cause an increase in noise perceived by La Jolla residents.

“At first I thought aircraft noise was a bit annoying, but now it doesn’t faze me,” said Marshall College second year Jon Bernabe. “I feel aircraft noise is something you get used to at UCSD.”

Noise complaints from La Jolla residents increased over the last year after the Federal Aviation Administration decided to implement the Southern California Metroplex plan in Nov. 2016, which increased air traffic above La Jolla and modernized air traffic control procedures due to an increase in flights from San Diego International Airport (SDIA). In response to the noise complaints by disgruntled La Jolla residents, the SDIA sponsored a noise study by the engineering firm BridgeNet International.

BridgeNet International, an airport engineering firm, held the noise study in La Jolla and Point Loma from 2014 to 2017. The study analyzed flight plan data and recorded noise levels in several locations in La Jolla and found no significant difference before and after the Metroplex implementation. However, it notes that La Jolla gets air traffic from multiple sources that can cause long periods of noise. The study was presented to the SDIA Authority by consultant Paul Dunholter from BridgeNet International during an Oct. 18 meeting.  

Matthew Price, a member of the La Jolla Town Council Airplane Noise Task Force, during the meeting said that he believes the results of the study validate the feelings of many residents about aircraft noise changing La Jolla from the peaceful place it is.

“I believe the ‘La Jolla Noise Study’ really vindicates the community,” Price said. “It confirms what La Jollans feel, that there is a systemic issue with planes flying [nearby], and the report notes that.”

Although the study does not claim noise has it increased, it does note that complaints from local residents about noise have increased since October 2016. While the three-year study offered no solution to the noise problem, Dunholter hopes that quieter airplanes will be produced in the future.

Ethan Coston is a staff writer at The Triton.