By Kathy Chouteau
A proposed plan by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to divert flights off existing paths in the Oakland hills to fly over Richmond, El Cerrito, Albany and Berkeley has been abandoned, much to the pleasure of locals who advocated against it. The news was announced by an FAA official Wed., April 21 at the Oakland Airport Community Noise Forum, according to reports by Richmond Mayor Tom Butt and Berkleyside.
The FAA plan would have seen a westward shift of airplane flight patterns over the East Bay’s diverse and more densely populated flatlands, a move intended to keep aircraft on the arrival route safely separated from Oakland departures. During the forum’s Zoom meeting last night, FAA Regional Administrator Raquel Girvin said that “ultimately, we were able to find a safety solution that does not involve changing the current routes,” per Berkleyside.
“Thanks to the concerns of community members in Richmond and throughout the East Bay, who already face disproportionate environmental impacts, the Federal Aviation Administration announced during tonight’s Oakland Airport Community Noise Forum that they will not be shifting the existing WNDSR flight path after all! The FAA will be releasing more information about the safety modifications they approved in order to keep the path where it currently is,” said Mayor Butt in a post on Facebook.
At a forum meeting on the topic in July 2020, Richmond Deputy City Manager Shasa Curl remarked that “it seems low-income people and existing disadvantaged communities are going to be impacted the most with these…proposals.” As the Standard reported at the time, Curl, Mayor Butt and Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia joined other community advocates in Richmond and beyond in actively—and ultimately, successfully—speaking out against the FAA’s proposed plans.
According to Mayor Butt in his social media post, his office initiated the return of the City of Richmond to the forum last October after several years without representation—thus amplifying Richmond voices regarding Oakland Airport noise concerns. The mayor underscored that Richmond’s one resident representative seat is presently vacant. Apply here.