Aircraft Drown Out Nature?

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Residents of Pacific Palisades, Calif., are complaining that increased jet and helicopter traffic is affecting their quality of life. A story in the Palisadian Post even suggests a cover-up, of sorts. "I have a neighbor who used to sunbathe nude,” laments one unnamed resident of Marques Knolls. “But she stopped because she felt as if her privacy was violated by all the low-flying airplanes and helicopters.” According to the Post, jet traffic is up 1,400 percent in the last 23 years and helicopter flights now make up 3 percent of the operations in and out of nearby Santa Monica Airport (KSMO) and that’s making it hard to hear the birds and the bees. “The reason that the Palisades is so nice is that you can hear nature,” resident Hal Oliver told the Post. “But all these planes are changing that.” With the expansion of nearby LAX (and a proposed cap of 78 million passengers a year), more commercial activity could be coming to reliever airports like Ontario and Palmdale and that could push even more private and business aircraft to places like Santa Monica. But Santa Monica also lacks overrun areas at the ends of the runways and apparently lacks the room to add them. If the FAA insists, the only way to accommodate the overruns will be to shorten the runways, and that might restrict jet traffic.