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FAA Authorization vs. City Ordinance
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727
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Does anybody have experience with city ordinances conflicting with FAA authorizations? I'll call the FAA but to me it sounds like cities can't just restrict airspace. Specific use case is flying over a city park with FAA authorization while taking off and landing outside of said park. This is a part 107 flight, all other requirements (VLOS, etc.) are given
1-4 21:20
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727
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Planning on calling the FAA based on this document https://www.faa.gov/uas/resource ... act_Sheet_Final.pdf
1-4 21:21
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DAFlys
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My understanding is that the land owner cannot control your over flight but they can ban you from take off and landing on their land.
1-5 03:00
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727
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DAFlys Posted at 1-5 03:00
My understanding is that the land owner cannot control your over flight but they can ban you from take off and landing on their land.

that's what it sounds like! The city is arguing with noise restrictions but the area I flew in was off limits for people so that shouldn't be an issue. Logically the FAA should be in charge of the airspace but I'm sure having that argument with the city wouldn't be fun. I wasn't able to get a hold of the FAA on the phone today but I sent them an email describing what happened. I'll keep you posted!
1-5 10:00
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djiuser_OGGydsGlZcLp
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The FAA is in charge of the airspace, but the city can still have enforceable ordinances. For example they can prohibit you from taking off, landing, or controlling your drone from a specific location (i.e a park). They can also enforce noise issues. Usually this comes from either ignorance from the officials, or prior problems due to jerks. My advice to you would be to go to the department who is enforcing the issue and ask to speak to someone in charge about it. Bring the FAA rules with you and explain to them that this is what you follow. Explain that you will respect their wishes, but that you want to show that drones aren't bad. Maybe bring your drone and offer to let them look at it or maybe give them a demonstration flight if they want. If you educate them and show them you are lawful and want to remain so, they might work with you.  Then again, they might want nothing to do with you, but at least you made the effort.
1-5 17:35
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DAFlys
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727 Posted at 1-5 10:00
that's what it sounds like! The city is arguing with noise restrictions but the area I flew in was off limits for people so that shouldn't be an issue. Logically the FAA should be in charge of the airspace but I'm sure having that argument with the city wouldn't be fun. I wasn't able to get a hold of the FAA on the phone today but I sent them an email describing what happened. I'll keep you posted!

There was a similar issue in the UK where the National Trust bans drones, but the CAA confirmed that they couldn't block overflight.  So you literally take off from the street and do your flight.
1-6 00:50
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Andy_474
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Hi all - had a similar experience to the OP recently, hoping for some insight.  I just got a Mavic Air 2, am FAA hobbyist registered.  A search for any city or parks department ordinances against RC/drone flight yielded no restrictions, county parks (not city or other agency parks) are restricted, but that’s all.  Also, I live in Michigan, and we have no statewide restrictions applying to cities/municipalities, in fact, it appears there is a law banning municipalities from enacting their own drone restrictions.

I took my Mavic to a local city park next to the river, it’s a large/long park down the riverside with some walking trails but lots of open space, and especially being dead of winter, there are not many people in the park aside from a few walkers on the paved trails.  I flew two 6-7 minute flights from where I was parked, out over the immediately adjacent large frozen pond.  Although this time of year the ice is safe to walk on, there was no one on the pond, in fact there were only perhaps 5-10 people who had passed through walking during my flights, and those trails are beyond where I was flying, so I was not over any people.  Toward the end of flight 2, as I was packing up I noticed a city park department vehicle parked near me and perhaps watching me.  Today, I flew at a different large park, but a very similar situation with being parked/takeoff near a pond and flying over the pond, and then over an unoccupied pool and sports field area.  Again noticed a city parks vehicle show up at the end of my flight and follow me out of the parking lot.  Following all FAA regulations as far as I know.  Also, the parking lots were sparsely scattered with parked cars, mostly people on lunch break staying in their vehicles, and again I didn’t fly over moving vehicles or people, crowds, etc, in fact I was able to proceed directly over the pond from takeoff.

I placed a call to the parks department, which was automatically forwarded to city hall, and the gentleman I spoke to told me drone use within city limits and/or at parks is prohibited per FAA regulations both due to being in vicinity of people and also the FAA bans flights inside any city limits.  This sounds wrong to me, but as a new pilot, I don’t want to be in violation of the law due to misunderstanding or lack of knowledge.  My suspicion is that the city and parks department know they don’t have authority to do anything, so they use this as a tactic to intimidate pilots out of the parks.  I would’ve appreciated if they just asked, because I’m not out to ruffle feathers.  Hopefully they aren’t trying to file a bogus FAA case against me.
1-29 13:59
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727
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djiuser_OGGydsGlZcLp Posted at 1-5 17:35
The FAA is in charge of the airspace, but the city can still have enforceable ordinances. For example they can prohibit you from taking off, landing, or controlling your drone from a specific location (i.e a park). They can also enforce noise issues. Usually this comes from either ignorance from the officials, or prior problems due to jerks. My advice to you would be to go to the department who is enforcing the issue and ask to speak to someone in charge about it. Bring the FAA rules with you and explain to them that this is what you follow. Explain that you will respect their wishes, but that you want to show that drones aren't bad. Maybe bring your drone and offer to let them look at it or maybe give them a demonstration flight if they want. If you educate them and show them you are lawful and want to remain so, they might work with you.  Then again, they might want nothing to do with you, but at least you made the effort.

Thanks, great advice. I had to get FAA authorization in that area anyways which worked out for me as it’s an official writing from the FAA telling me that I’m good to fly in that area at that time.

As I never entered the park personally and there are no people I doubt the city would have any interest in enforcing this rule but I still want to be compliant. Plus you can always run into that one cop or city employee that’s power tripping.
1-30 13:17
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727
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Andy_474 Posted at 1-29 13:59
Hi all - had a similar experience to the OP recently, hoping for some insight.  I just got a Mavic Air 2, am FAA hobbyist registered.  A search for any city or parks department ordinances against RC/drone flight yielded no restrictions, county parks (not city or other agency parks) are restricted, but that’s all.  Also, I live in Michigan, and we have no statewide restrictions applying to cities/municipalities, in fact, it appears there is a law banning municipalities from enacting their own drone restrictions.

I took my Mavic to a local city park next to the river, it’s a large/long park down the riverside with some walking trails but lots of open space, and especially being dead of winter, there are not many people in the park aside from a few walkers on the paved trails.  I flew two 6-7 minute flights from where I was parked, out over the immediately adjacent large frozen pond.  Although this time of year the ice is safe to walk on, there was no one on the pond, in fact there were only perhaps 5-10 people who had passed through walking during my flights, and those trails are beyond where I was flying, so I was not over any people.  Toward the end of flight 2, as I was packing up I noticed a city park department vehicle parked near me and perhaps watching me.  Today, I flew at a different large park, but a very similar situation with being parked/takeoff near a pond and flying over the pond, and then over an unoccupied pool and sports field area.  Again noticed a city parks vehicle show up at the end of my flight and follow me out of the parking lot.  Following all FAA regulations as far as I know.  Also, the parking lots were sparsely scattered with parked cars, mostly people on lunch break staying in their vehicles, and again I didn’t fly over moving vehicles or people, crowds, etc, in fact I was able to proceed directly over the pond from takeoff.

From what you said it doesn’t sound you broke any FAA rules. If they had anything against you, they sure would have approached you. The city representative you spoke to either isn’t very firm on the regulations or is trying to use his position of authority to intimidate you and make you follow his beliefs rather than rules.

With that being said I still think it’s important to be courteous. If I were you, I’d just approach the city vehicle next time you see them and explain that you looked into all regulations and registered your drone and are certain you’re ok to fly but just wanted to make sure and ask them as well. If they’re somewhat reasonable, they should appreciate you making sure.

When I flew last time, people passed me and I heard them talk about my drone and pointing, so I asked them if they wanted to see. They were interested and I showed them the view from the drone and we talked about regulations. As we’re all (or most) reasonable enthusiasts we may forget ... tbc...
1-30 13:26
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727
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Andy_474 Posted at 1-29 13:59
Hi all - had a similar experience to the OP recently, hoping for some insight.  I just got a Mavic Air 2, am FAA hobbyist registered.  A search for any city or parks department ordinances against RC/drone flight yielded no restrictions, county parks (not city or other agency parks) are restricted, but that’s all.  Also, I live in Michigan, and we have no statewide restrictions applying to cities/municipalities, in fact, it appears there is a law banning municipalities from enacting their own drone restrictions.

I took my Mavic to a local city park next to the river, it’s a large/long park down the riverside with some walking trails but lots of open space, and especially being dead of winter, there are not many people in the park aside from a few walkers on the paved trails.  I flew two 6-7 minute flights from where I was parked, out over the immediately adjacent large frozen pond.  Although this time of year the ice is safe to walk on, there was no one on the pond, in fact there were only perhaps 5-10 people who had passed through walking during my flights, and those trails are beyond where I was flying, so I was not over any people.  Toward the end of flight 2, as I was packing up I noticed a city park department vehicle parked near me and perhaps watching me.  Today, I flew at a different large park, but a very similar situation with being parked/takeoff near a pond and flying over the pond, and then over an unoccupied pool and sports field area.  Again noticed a city parks vehicle show up at the end of my flight and follow me out of the parking lot.  Following all FAA regulations as far as I know.  Also, the parking lots were sparsely scattered with parked cars, mostly people on lunch break staying in their vehicles, and again I didn’t fly over moving vehicles or people, crowds, etc, in fact I was able to proceed directly over the pond from takeoff.

Continued... As we’re all (or most) reasonable enthusiasts we may forget how drones might look to others. I spoke to a friend not too long ago. She knows nothing about drones or regulations and had a drone come to her secluded backyard and hover los not too long ago. While this is obviously breaking FAA rules as she can expect privacy in her backyard, I also 100% understand that she associated drones with creepiness after this incident
1-30 13:29
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sanderlingphoto
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I've been having the same issues in Seattle.  The city ordinances are much stricter than the FAA rules.  I asked the folks at dronepilotgroundschool.com, where I studied to get my part 107 cert, and they said this:  You are correct that the FAA controls the airspace but where you can take off and land can be prohibited by local ordinances.  While the preemptive ordinances may overstep the legal boundaries of cities/states, it doesn't prevent a hefty ticket from being issued if you simply ignore the ordinance.

Recommend reaching out to the UAS Integration office at (844) 359-6982 for additional guidance.


I haven't reached out to that office yet, but maybe this will help you.  For me, I'm just flying outside of the city limits and applying for permits for some upcoming jobs, so I can hopefully launch from city parks.
2-3 23:14
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StephenBogner
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sanderlingphoto Posted at 2-3 23:14
I've been having the same issues in Seattle.  The city ordinances are much stricter than the FAA rules.  I asked the folks at dronepilotgroundschool.com, where I studied to get my part 107 cert, and they said this:  You are correct that the FAA controls the airspace but where you can take off and land can be prohibited by local ordinances.  While the preemptive ordinances may overstep the legal boundaries of cities/states, it doesn't prevent a hefty ticket from being issued if you simply ignore the ordinance.​

Recommend reaching out to the UAS Integration office at (844) 359-6982 for additional guidance.

Over-reaching ordinances are unfortunately quite common, and you are correct that they will issue large tickets.  However, they are fully aware that they are acting out-of-bounds legally speaking and the common tactic is to withdraw the ticket if you chose to fight it rather than take it into court and lose - which would force them to have to strike/repeal the ordinance.  The problem is that it can be costly to defend your legal rights by challenging the ticket, so most people are simply intimidated by the threat and will not challenge the overreach.  It would be better for the drone user community if there was such a thing as an "Defense Against Overreaching Drone Ordinances Legal Fund" to protect our rights.
3-24 14:26
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727
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StephenBogner Posted at 3-24 14:26
Over-reaching ordinances are unfortunately quite common, and you are correct that they will issue large tickets.  However, they are fully aware that they are acting out-of-bounds legally speaking and the common tactic is to withdraw the ticket if you chose to fight it rather than take it into court and lose - which would force them to have to strike/repeal the ordinance.  The problem is that it can be costly to defend your legal rights by challenging the ticket, so most people are simply intimidated by the threat and will not challenge the overreach.  It would be better for the drone user community if there was such a thing as an "Defense Against Overreaching Drone Ordinances Legal Fund" to protect our rights.

that matches what most people are saying. I spoke to the FAA they're saying the city doesn't have control over the airspace and I'm sure they're right but as it has been said being right is nice but proving you're right can be costly
4-17 14:11
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