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October 06, 2014


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Extreme airport take off noise over residential areas such as those now allowed over central Phoenix aren't the pleasant noises of city living in Rogue's Seattle utopia. SeaTac is too far away to make any comparison with what is occurring in central Phoenix.

A good comparison is Reagan National Airport and the take off routes from the airport over the residential areas near DC in Northern Virginia. The noises render residential areas there unlivable between sunrise and sunset during the restricted flight times. This is not the path central Phoenix should follow. A broadening of these flight paths will degrade the livability and residential value of the area. In fact, if Northern Virginia is any indication, it is the first step in turning a residential area into a commercial area.

Local Arizona officials of course blame the FAA. It is the federal government's fault. Where were the Arizona congressional representatives while the flight plans were being developed and approved by the FAA? Do the Arizona representatives even know what a congressional inquiry is?

Don't expect Senators McCain or Flake to do anything that concerns the state of the State of Arizona. They are (especially McCain) much more interested in being Senators at large for the rest of the country. If your not fighting a war in the Middle East or "securing the damn border", you'll get a yawn from these two.

The area in question is, I believe, under Democrat representation. The Republicans in the Arizona delegation would most likely loath to do anything for these areas.

Phoenix is too transient for anyone in Anthem or Awahtukee to care about things impacting downtown. People from the Midwest seem to like cookie cutter homes and dictatorial HOA's.

Senator Flake has found his calling and that is making sure his dog-killing son stays out of court and jail. Voters? They're just little people.

This is most definitely not a pleasant city hum. The windows in my home (FQ Story) shake when the planes go overhead. That occurs approximately every 3-6 minutes from about noon until 2am. I bought knowing about the freeway, the crackheads roaming the alleys, and all the other things that make living in the area unique and wonderful compared to the suburbs. I did not know that I would be directly under the flight path for Sky Harbor, and nobody even bothered to let us know in advance that this could happen.

I can understand changing the flight paths for a legitimate reason. Of course, there's no way to know whether they had a good reason to do so here because they never notified anyone. You just wake up one day to get blasted out of your home.

The political response has been as expected. The Sky Harbor authorities blame the FAA. The City blames the FAA but hasn't really done anything to help. The FAA remains silent. The Senators don't even bother to respond, but as noted we are the blue area of town so they are probably happy to see this. Rep. Pastor sent me a nice response to let me know that he is busy packing up his DC office so he isn't fielding constituent concerns any more. I contacted Rep. Synema in the hopes that she would care considering she used to represent our area and used to live here. Just another email thanking me for contacting the office.

If this is the thing that brings a more balanced transportation system, then I'd willingly make the sacrifice for all of you. I'm just more realistic than that.

I get it! You want the noise over someone else! And I am sure McCain and Flake did this just to irritate a blue area!!!

airport is Phoenix Cash Cow. Don't expect downtown residents to get a break.

The trouble is that Sky Harbor is not a cash cow for the city. Its fees can only be used for the airport, not for the broader city.

Please note:

There is a "Phoenix Residents / FAA Community Meeting" scheduled next week:

Date: Thurs, Oct 16 at 6 PM.
Location: Phoenix City Council Chambers.

You may follow here…

The airport is an economic engine. So are the neighborhoods and downtown. Look at the Central Core as an ecosystem. Undue negative impact on one portion can have broad reaching negative ramifications for the entire Core.

First time reader of your blog. I see that you get it or at least you get the same view I have out my window.

I agree whole-heartedly that our transportation system is circa 1970 for a myriad of reasons. The implementation of the NextGen Plan is an attempt to bring our county up to speed with other countries that have already embraced this GPS based air transportation system.

The goals of NextGen are to reduce CO2 emissions, enhance safety procedures to better accommodate more flights per hour, reduce noise (tho not specific if that is engine noise or ground impact noise using the new “per flight” basis vs the old “Day/Night 24-hour Average” ratio) and reduce fuel consumption per flight.

The reason that Congress inoculated the FAA from requiring public meetings and impacts studies was after the first 5 years of the roll out, the FAA was behind schedule and over budget. They asked Congress for and received the dispensation to lift the burden of study cost and public meetings that prolonged the process. They were tasked with using their best judgment and appointed the NextGen Advisory Committee (NAC) to further explore the “consequent recommendations”. (their words not mine).

Land Use maps were used to create the new Phoenix corridor that would allow for a shorter waypoint to be established when making the new Performance Based Navigation (PBN) flight path turns. Plan-makers seemed to think that the new corridor was still over industrial areas and not single or multifamily residential areas.

I find this interesting since some of the historic districts were on the land use maps long before air flights were even available in Phoenix. If out-of-date maps were used, I would like to know just how old were those maps?

Land Use Maps guides business and industry where to best build their complexes. Needing access to transportation hubs and travel paths require them to build along those routes. In Phoenix we have Interstates 10 and 17, State Routes like 60 that are well established ground transportation pathways. Sky Harbor flight path corridor is the long established air transportation vector.

Imagine this…….an omnipotent decision-maker decides that any one of those established ground transportation routes should be moved. Tear up the old and build a new one in a different location. What would be the impact be to business and industry?

I submit for thought that the affects of moving the air corridor is the same. There are unintended consequences in the loss of Quality of Life for residential areas that have been long-established……areas that have contributed greatly to keeping on the light in downtown Phoenix after the decay of the central city several decades ago.

The solution may be simple. Move the waypoint a couple miles further out over the current flight path. You are back in industrial territory and the FAA can still prove to Congress that they are meeting all of their NextGen goals……including fuel saving tho it may be a few percentage point less that is currently being achieved from the outbound flights to the west.

It could be a simple solution but only time will tell. Stay tuned.

The airport has been there since 1928.

In other developments, the airport has been there since 1928.

The airport was there before the three words "flight path corridor" were ever used in a sentence together.

Just be glad you don't live a few miles from Luke AFB. Those new F-35s? Now THAT'S jet noise.

I lived near Dallas Love Field when I was a child and I now visit my children and their family in a near by home. I learned to adjust, as did my family. The Lemmon Avenue and Lower Greenville areas are as historic as the 7's (7th Ave to 7th Street) in Phoenix.

I pity the person living near the tweekers. With that said, you learn to adjust. In South Austin, I deal with crazy kids and their music.

"The trouble is that Sky Harbor is not a cash cow for the city. Its fees can only be used for the airport, not for the broader city."

Jon your the numbers guy. And you know the Pols as well as anyone. The above quote serves the mayor, city council and airport director well, as long as you believe thats the absolute fact.
I suggest you ask the city to allow you to do a forensic financial review of the Airport and the Water department, both according to the Mayor, City council and city manager to Cal Lash, Union president in 1975 bargaining for benefits and wages, Sorry Lash but these "departments are sacred cash cows for Phoenix." I hired a CPA in 1975 to do a revenue stream review of all city finances, He found that there was certainly "trickle down" from the airport and water department. And he suggested that further audit might find diversion to other city departments, such as transportation, mechanical maintenance and parks and recreation. Unfortunately I cannot call upon him today for verification as he is dead.

A side note that in 1975 and for many years there was an airport director who was one of the most powerful forces in Arizona. Legend had it the legislature never turned him down on any request for legislation favoring the airport. Wonder how he accomplished such a feat?

Trickle, trickle!

I'm shocked, shocked, cal!

Then why does Phoenix show consistent deficits? I'd love to expose the old-school corruption. Specifics, please.

My point is that it's federal law that prevents the city from using Sky Harbor fees for anything but the airport. That's why the airport looks like an upscale mall on the inside and can afford the huge rental-car facility while other city needs go wanting.

"Then why does Phoenix show consistent deficits? I'd love to expose the old-school corruption. Specifics, please."

First, note that the state itself predicts a budget deficit. The Arizona Republic carried this front page headline today:

"Arizona budget deficit could return"

Not a SINGLE mention in the whole text of the story about the $1 BILLION in tax cuts phasing in by 2018; just a vague statement that tax receipts are "less than expected". Expected by whom? The voodoo-economics adherents in the state legislature?

The Phoenix deficit is quite similar. Here's what a September 6 Arizona Republic story had to say:

"The city ended the last budget with about $25 million less in new revenues than expected. Its budget predicted a 7.3 percent growth in returns over last year, but actual growth was only 4.6 percent, including revenue lost after city leaders volunteered to reduce the sales tax on food."

As usual, no quantification of the loss because of the food tax cut. In an earlier story dated May 1, the Republic quoted City Manager Cavazos as saying that a full repeal would "create a $55 million shortfall requiring sweeping cuts".

Instead of a full repeal, the tax was cut in half. Half of $55 million is $27.5 million.

I don't like sales taxes and food taxes are particularly regressive. But I don't think it's a mystery.

Whether at the state or local level, tax cuts cost revenue. Why is that so difficult for politicians in Arizona and elsewhere in America to understand?

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it." — Upton Sinclair

Mr. Talton wrote:

"Here's one thing I learned today: America spent $26 billion preparing the Iraqi security forces that melted before a bunch of psychopaths in pickup trucks and a few tanks. This is a fraction of the trillions we've spent on military adventures since 2002. But it would have built many high-speed rail (HSR) lines."

'Fraid not. As of February (per the Fresno Bee):

"The cost to build a high-speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles by 2028 is predicted to drop slightly from the previous forecast to a grand total of about $67.6 billion, the California High-Speed Rail Authority said Friday."

That's more than twice the cost of "preparing the Iraqi army" and for a single high-speed rail line.

Incidentally, the Iraqi army only melted in the Anbar Province where Al Qaeda in Iraq got most of its support during the Iraq War. That isn't coincidence: according to U.S. intelligence sources, 90 percent of the Shura Council in Iraq which advises ISIS on military matters is composed of former officers of the Iraqi army (including two generals) as well as former Baathist regime (Saddam Hussein era) members and local Sunni tribal elders.

Most of the rank and file army members in the north (Anbar) were local Sunnis, who served in areas from which they were recruited. The Shia dominated central government is highly unpopular among them. Even if they don't particularly like ISIS, why fight and die to defend the Shia leadership, when ISIS is offering the Sunnis their own independent region?

More info and confirmation about the nature of ISIS' leadership:

"The six individuals who have been at the helm of the terror group are from Iraq, Deputy Minister of Iraq's Interior Ministry Adnan al-Asadi told Al Arabiya in an exclusive interview to be aired on Friday.

"At least three of them served in Saddam Hussein’s army while others were previously detained in Iraq and upon their release they joined the war in Syria."

It isn't just the Sunni army forces that are disloyal: the same Al Arabiya article linked to above notes that the security forces in Sunni dominated areas are also compromised:

"The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) had claimed responsibility for a brazen attack on Abu Ghraib and Taji prisons on July 22, 2013 that led to the escape of hundreds of militants, many of whom were members of al-Qaeda.

"A government statement pointed to collusion between jail staff and the militants who attacked the jails.

"Several months after the incident, questions linger about how a handful of armed men could break into Iraq’s most guarded prisons without the help of the security services working for Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a staunch ally of Iran and the Assad’s regime in Syria."

Note that Abu Ghraib is a city in the Al Anbar Governate of Iraq; Taji is a Sunni Arab rural district within Baghdad Province.

A few thousand fighters take Mosul, a city (formerly) of more than a million and with a large garrison. A handful storm two of the most secure prison facilities, also in Sunni areas. Is the pattern clear yet, folks?

A teaser from a very interesting article in Foreign Policy:

"The group of ex-Hussein loyalists, known alternatively as the Naqshbandi Army or by the acronym JRTN -- the initials of its Arabic name -- helped the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, win some of its most important military victories, including its conquest of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city. It has also given the terrorist army, which is composed largely of foreign fighters, a valuable dose of local political credibility in Iraq. JRTN, which was formed as a resistance group in 2006, is made up of former Baathist officials and retired military generals, and is led by the former vice president of Hussein's revolutionary council, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, who was once one of the most-wanted men in the country during the U.S. occupation.

. . . "Almost as soon as Mosul fell, on June 10, it was obvious that JRTN forces had been waiting for their arrival. Reports from the scene said ISIS fighters quickly disappeared and were replaced with armed men loyal to the Baathists and former generals. The group already held sway in key Iraqi cities, including in Tikrit, which fell on June 11. But Mosul was the real prize, and a key strategic point because it's a historic seat of power for the ruling Sunni elites who want Maliki gone."

Good stuff as always, Emil. We definitely need to find intelligent ways to make infrastructure projects less expensive. But those war billions would have provided tremendous leverage for passenger rail. The Florida project, rejected by criminal CEO/Gov. Rick Scott was about $2 billion. War chump change.

The obvious solution to noise in the urban footprint of Phoenix would be to relocate the airport to a more remote location. A location in the Picacho/Red Rock area (serving both Phoenix and Tucson) would appear to be best (this won’t happen – as explained below).

The following is believed to be true – but I can’t swear to it.

Most airports are indeed cash cows for the owners (Cities/Counties/States). Fares include landing/boarding fees that must be shipped off to the Feds to support the FAA, etc. The real cash comes from parking, concessions and car rentals. These revenues can match or exceed the landing/boarding fees.

Chicago floated the idea of selling Midway Airport. The deal never went through as the potential buyers couldn’t come up with the case (>1,000,000,000). As an aside, Chicago is selling everything in sight to prop up its operating budget. My opinion (unsupported) is that city movers and shakers didn’t want to let go of any asset that was so loading with potential graft.
The city of Atlanta had a huge corruption stink over operation of Hartsfield Airport.

The dollars floating around are enormous (ever wonder why a $1 double cheese burger at the airport costs $3?)

This is why I don’t think a joint airport will “fly”. There’s just too much money lying on the table for it to happen.

Thank you wkg in bham
Jon, You got better resources now than I do to city hall. I left the Phoenix PD white collar crime squad in late 70's. During those years that squad uncovered an number of city problems that led to the leaving of a city treasurer, a city prosecutor and a city manager. Also that same Organized Crime Bureau did AZSCAM and a number of other city corruption cases. But the city fathers managed to do away with OCB by first doing away civil service protection for the police chief and then getting a police chief that didnt mind being told what to do.
My accountant is gone as is the guy who could probably give you great insight into city going ons, but he managed to crawl out onto the roof top of his car through the open moon roof before the vehicle crashed at a high rate of speed. Consequently he wormed his way out of every having to talk to the cops again.

Maybe county supervisor Mary Rose can explain about how the city of Phoenix Sky Harbor airport hands out concessions at the airport.
Here is your city council not in action to prevent fraud.

Emil, reference your comments on ISIL warriors
and Mad Max 2 or Road Warrior
coming soon to AmeriKa

Jon- I have whiplash (Not Cal!). ISIS to transportation is a big range. I'll stay on topic.

My neighborhood, FQ Story, has I-10 cut right through it. Not by it. Not near it. Through it. That's 12 lanes of Interstate carrying 240,000+ vehicles PER DAY roaring through it, next to my backyard.

We're not "just hearing it for the first time." as you wrote. I've lived here nearly 40 years. We've dealt with transportation noise since 1990 when the last mile of I-10 was completed. We've fought the noise wars with ADOT for decades. We know noise.

Add to that the helicopter overflights -- med-evac with St Josephs and Good Sam near; police chopper patrols; TV news stations with their helicopter based live shots ("there's a wreck on the 10 that will ruin your commute" or "Good Morning Phoenix! Isn't that a beautiful sunrise!' as they hover over our homes). Much of the helicopter overflights are because of I-10, either as a route or a news location.

The State spent a fortune on noise mitigation with rubberized asphalt repaving and new sound wall barrier construction. It's made an improvement, not great, just better than before. It took over 20 years to get them to complete both.

Now, the FAA, in one fell swoop, destroyed the modicum of peace we've worked so hard for decades to achieve. It is not country living. No one expects that. We live in the Central Core and "hustle and bustle" noise is part of the environment. What's not is a constant assault on our senses with a bombardment of aircraft noise that we never had, on top of the noise we already experience.

NextGen is intended to be safer, achieve "efficiencies" and reduce "per flight" noise on residents. This new flight path along Grand Ave was chosen in DC without a clear understanding of the real land use in the area. It's an electronic line on a GPS map. It can be changed.

This AM alone there have been countess overflights since before 6 AM at 1-3 minutes apart, which is earlier in the day due to weather/winds.

It's essential to note that MANY neighborhoods are affected including MANY residents who have made a life choice to live in, and invest in, and preserve these Central Core neighborhoods, whether they are historic districts or not.

To suggest that we catch up to the rest of the world and accept this new assault on our quality of life is just wrong. You know better than that.

We gave at the office.

You misunderstand, Steve. I am not suggesting that at all. And I was campaigning against that freeway back in the day, a boy going door-to-door handing out literature against it. Before we moved to Cypress, we lived on Culver. What happened to those blocks and neighborhood is an atrocity. I have never said otherwise.

Cal, I'm not a fan of the Mad Max "franchise". The first movie, Max Max, was cheesy, soaked in perversity, and awful.

The second film, The Road Warrior, came out in 1981 and was actually amazingly good, especially for an independent film with a small budget. It had its campy aspects and occasionally went over the edge, but was a well-plotted post-apocalyptic adventure story (taking place after the collapse of civilization presaged in the first movie).

Then there was some mess years later starring Tina Turner, after Hollywood saw how profitable Road Warrior had been in worldwide distribution, and, as is their wont, opted to create a formulaic sequel with none of the soul of Road Warrior but with the same general theme, attempting to cash-in. In the modern idiom, it sucked.

Hollywood has an odious habit of digging up the corpse of a wonderful moment which has passed, dressing up the bones in some gaudy rags and dousing it with perfume, in the hope of wringing easy money out. I don't have any interest in seeing a fourth movie in the series, though of course if it turned out through some miracle to be good, I'd consider viewing it (like any other film).

Considering how much money Hollywood has at its disposal to attract and motivate the best and brightest, I can only consider the current habit of remakes, sequels, and resurrections (e.g., of old comic book characters) to be evidence of a sclerotic lack of vision at the level of the producers (the ones holding the purse strings and therefore dictating studio policy).

I don't know if you ever saw an obscure sci-fi flick called Dark Star, but there was a character named Powell who commanded the ship, was killed, but who remains as a somewhat confused head in cryogenic suspension, who is periodically revived to ask his advice. This is what I always think of when I try to imagine the advisors behind this kind of Hollywood film development strategy.

That isn't to say everything has to be new. I used to watch AMC (American Movie Classics) back in the 1990s when they still showed old movies, uncolorized, uncut and unedited, in a commercial-free environment. It was all the more valuable because they just don't make movies like that anymore. I could watch The Blue Dahlia, or North By Northwest, or The Grapes of Wrath, or Charlie Chan At Treasure Island, or Terror By Night.

Today, not only do they not make movies like that anymore, AMC doesn't even show them any more. Apparently this is the result of a lawsuit by Ted Turner.

The Chinese recently purchased AMC
Have not watched Dark Star.
Agree with most of your comments.
Along that line.
I am sure I am the only person that likes Rodriquez's Wonderland, Sin City, stuff.
A Dame to Kill for was like a bizarre Raymond Chandler novel brought to comic book real life.
I was the only person in the theater.

Steve, How is ISIL any different than Arizona pols that could care less about your desire to live in a small quaint downtown neighborhood.
They would just as soon behead (with a Caterpillar blade) your little gardens spot and pave it over into a concrete asphalt parking lot.

On the subject of noise. It will eventually drive one insane. Another subject that we could spend hours on. So Steve, I suggest that before the city clatter and corruption drive you crazy you consider living off the grid.


@Steve D.: Why go through this? Give it up. Do what any reasonable person would do: move.

Rouge and Soleri have bailed on Phoenix. Cal appears to spend very little time in town. Life is too short to put up with the ship you are putting up with.

It's not only the downtown neighborhoods that are being assaulted with this passenger plane noise. I live in Laveen, just southwest of downtown Phoenix. We have been a rural community since Phoenix was founded and the Salt River split South Phoenix from greater Phoenix. My family has lived her for three generations and I bought out here 11 years ago because of the country-quiet, yet still living within minutes of downtown Phoenix. With the new FAA route, the planes normally pass over my home in the afternoon/evenings, but with our recent storm, we had take-offs early this morning. Starting at 5:00 this morning there was a constant stream of commercial jets climbing at full thrust directly over my home. Why would they divert these flights out of Sky Harbor westward over a dry riverbed where they can make their turns at a much higher altitude, and instead divert the flights over stable, relatively quiet neighborhoods? There's a public meeting next Thursday at the Phoenix City Council meeting rooms. If you've been affected, make your presence and voice known there.

JA, standby buy for the freeway that's going to run over your quiet community.
If you know the Quiñones, say hello for me.

Jon- I did not misunderstand at all…

You wrote: "So the anti-airplane-noise protesters, wherever they may be, should consider this, too. We need a more balanced transportation system."


"The problem is much more than noise."


"You're just hearing it for the first time."

Absolutely not.

Airplanes do NOT create the only transportation noise. Transportation is vital. So is "Quality of Life" or else, what's the point? It's completely a matter of balance. Undue sacrifice for questionable gains IN THIS SINGLE flightpath is the real issue.

Please… "anti-airplane-noise protesters" is an offensive label that minimizes the residents concerns and our grasp of the subject.

"...hearing it for the first time" is a metaphor for our American deafness.

There are so few places left where the silence roars.
I find it insane that anyone would want to live in a flight pattern. Noise plus mentally destructive air plane leaded fuel. Go to top of South Mountain and look at the Black cloud on top of the brown cloud over Sky Harbor.

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