Sorry for the slow response, I have been working several channels on this issue. One of the biggest challenges is getting people to care. In some cases, even forums focused on the hobby, members don’t see the issue or care enough to raise it as an issue.
My concern is that like other slow moving actions, the impact of these bans won't really hit home and start hurting until they are set in established law and difficult to undo. By the time the general community realizes that these wonderful tools are now in effect banned from use in all the natural settings they designed to capture the beauty of, the laws will already have been passed, signs posted and fines imposed.
I reached to our local congressman, Eric Swalwell, who interestingly stated the issue was not within his jurisdiction. Technically he is correct, however, I do see the broader issue as regional to the state and not just the district. None the less, he did put me in contact with Ms. Katy Hornbeck with the Park District. Her reply was as follows:
“Hello Mr. Hartwell,
Thank you for your email regarding the East Bay Regional Park District’s prohibition on the recreational use of drones in regional parklands by members of the public.
The District had a long-standing ban on motorized model airplanes, but in 2016 added the word “drone” to clarify section 409.3 in Ordinance 38 due their increasing popularity and presence in the parks. The Board unanimously approved this revision to Ordinance 38 on April 19, 2016. The full board vote occurred after the item was presented at two public meetings: Board Operations Committee meeting on 3/17/16 and the Park Advisory Committee meeting on 3/28/2016. There was time for public comment at each of these meetings. Ordinance 38 is reviewed and revised on a bi-annual basis after receiving feedback from public and staff. The Public Safety Division then presents its proposed revisions to the Board Operations Committee, Park Advisory Committee, and the full Board for comments and approval.
District parklands serve to protect wildlife, the natural habitats that support them and to provide outdoor recreational opportunities for the public. The current prohibition on recreational drone use is intended to reduce potential impacts to wildlife and to preserve to the greatest extent possible the quiet natural setting that many visitors value and seek in our regional parks. Additionally, as you pointed out in your letter, drones can also present significant safety issues for aircraft working in an around our regional parks including the helicopters operated by the District’s public safety division.
Acting Business Services Manager | Business Services
East Bay Regional Park District
2950 Peralta Oaks Ct, Oakland, CA 94605
T: 510-544-2540| F: 510-639-4757
KHornbeck@ebparks.org | www.ebparks.org
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P Please consider the environment before you print
A couple of points leave room for optimism, one that the orginal ordnance did include a public discussion (I was not aware of this) and two there is a biannual review of these policies.
I would ask any interested drone enthusiasts to reach out to Ms. Hornbeck concerning our concerns related to these general bans and how we can introduce our perspective into the next policy review meeting.
Please note, I am not advocating a complete elimination of all restrictions, I am advocating a fair access and use policy that would allow camera drones to operate with the purpose of recreational photography in areas and in ways that do not unreasonably impact other visitors, wildlife and local manned aircraft.
If you agree with position please reach out to Ms. Hornbeck, or to me so that we can organize a common voice on this issue.
Thank you for your interest.