What is defined as the public right-of-way?

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I am new to the hobby and have decided to review my local ordinances where I live. The following ordinance where I live states:


The ordinance enacts the following regulations and policies: 

Prohibits the operation of any radio or remote controlled drone, cars, boats, rockets, model airplanes, or other similar motorized craft (as newly defined in Chapter 9.22) in any City park, except in an area specifically designated for such activity; prohibits the take off or landing of an unmanned aircraft in any City owned park, recreation area, facility and/or property; and prohibits the take off or landing of an unmanned aircraft from the public right-­of-way.  The ordinance would not apply if the following exceptions exist:  (1) Written authorization by City Manager or designee or (2) The landing of an emergency aircraft is authorized by the Chief of Police, or their designee. 

I'm curious as to what is defined as the public right-of-way. I have learned this can be any public space, such as the roads and sidewalks and the space / area above them. However, can this extend or include a personal vehicle parked on a public road? Such as my personal vehicle parked on a public street which I take off and land from? I don't have the ability to take off and land from my property so a public sidewalk would be the next option, which is prohibited. I often park and take off from the top of my personally owned vehicle. Am I within the city ordinance by doing so? If I were to gain consent to take off and land from a neighbors yard, it appears I will be in compliance with my local ordinance, correct? 

Any help or further insight into what defines a public right-of-way would be greatly appreciated. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi @Paul B,

Welcome to the UAV Coach Community Forum! Local drone laws can be tricky to navigate because states, cities, etc. do not have the legal jurisdiction to regulate the operation of drones within the National Airspace System. They do however have the right to ban the drone from taking-off or landing on their property. 

Technically, I believe taking off from your vehicle would still be against the city ordinance as your vehicle is located on a public right-of way (any property owned/managed by the city). If you did have permission to take-off from private property, then you would not be in violation of the ordinance. 

What state is this drone being operated in? 

 - Chase  

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