Berkeley City Council Oppose Federal Aviation Administration’s WNDSR Flight Path Change Over Berkeley and East Bay
Berkeley, CA — April 21, 2021 Last night, Tuesday, April 20th, 2021, the Berkeley City Council passed its opposition to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) WNDSR flight path change proposal. Authored by Councilmember Ben Bartlett, co-sponsored by Councilmember Kate Harrison and Terry Taplin, the letter opposes the FAA’s planned relocation of the WNDSR pathway that flies over Berkeley and East Bay residential areas without first communicating with Berkeley communities.
In response, the community quickly came together, and over 1,000 people signed a petition demanding the FAA not to reroute commercial air flights over the residential neighborhoods of the East Bay. “Our neighborhoods are not disposable. South and West Berkeley and our neighboring East Bay communities have contended with the adverse health impacts of environmental racism for too long,” said Councilmember Taplin.
Background: In May 2020, at an Oakland Noise Forum meeting, the FAA unveiled its new landing procedures for the WNDSR pathway, which go into effect in October 2021. The new path will route incoming flights to the Oakland International Airport (OAK) directly over the houses of Berkeley residents and people in Richmond, Albany, and El Cerrito. Aside from presentations at the Oakland Noise Forum, the FAA has failed to conduct outreach to our community and other affected neighborhoods. It also has declined to perform an environmental study on the impact of the change.
Numerous studies have shown that people living near airports are exposed to higher risks of high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer due to the effects of aircraft noise and toxic pollution. By the FAA’s admission, the number of people adversely impacted by the noise and air pollution will well more than double under the proposed change.
Berkeley already shoulders an unequal share of environmental injustice and has greater socioeconomic and racial diversity than the areas the planes currently fly over. The change, which makes Berkeley take on the burden of toxic emission and noise pollutants, echoes a long history of environmental injustice. Berkeley is already home to the I-80 corridor, numerous high traffic roads, industrial factories, and very little tree cover and green space. This legacy of bad air and toxic soil has resulted in higher asthma rates, heart disease, and cancer in the surrounding communities.
At the Council meeting, it was announced that the FAA has postponed moving the WNDSR flight path originally scheduled for 10/7/2021. The postponement is intended to provide time for consideration of other options and impacts. Berkeley City Council’s opposition to FAA’s flight change legislation will not be enough. The FAA’s Oakland Noise Forum meeting is today, Wednesday, April 21st, 2021 at 6:30pm. “Here’s the thing, changing these flights will expose people to jet fuel emissions and debilitating noise. That’s our homes, schools, and playgrounds. Families need to know that we have their backs,” said Bartlett, and he urges all East Bay residents to attend the meeting and continue to stay engaged and make their voices heard to protect our clean and quiet skies.
Petition to Stop the FAA WNDSR Pathway Change: http://chng.it/XnX92m8SP9
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