The Portola Valley lawsuit

The Portola Valley lawsuit against the FAA’s 32 new flight paths in NorCal needs financial help

The Opening Brief of the Portola Valley suit finds many faults with the process by which the FAA conducted the Environmental Assessment and came to its decision; The FAA’s presentation of that process can be found here.

An introduction and summarized reasoning for the Portola Valley Lawsuit can be found here.

A summary of the faults from page 2 of the Opening Brief:

“In concluding that NorCal OAPM had no significant noise impact on Petitioners’ communities, the FAA flouted both of these criteria – it did not determine how many aircraft would use the new routes and it did not determine over which communities the additional aircraft would fly. The FAA’s FONSI was thus arbitrary and capricious and resulted from a flawed and unlawful process. This Court should set it aside for the following four reasons. First, the entire process by which the FAA purported to measure the anticipated noise impacts of NorCal OAPM was tainted from the outset because the FAA unlawfully predetermined that no significant noise impacts would occur before the FAA performed its analysis of the anticipated noise impacts, and then committed itself to an implementation timeline for NorCal OAPM that required it to later confirm this preordained conclusion. Second, the record indicates that at the time ATAC measured the anticipated noise effects on the ground of NorCal OAPM, ATAC did not actually know where aircraft were expected to fly after the implementation of NorCal OAPM. ATAC’s noise calculations were therefore based on unreliable data and guesswork as to where planes would actually fly under NorCal OAPM. Third, in measuring the anticipated noise impacts of NorCal OAPM, the FAA improperly inflated the amount of noise that would be anticipated if NorCal OAPM were not implemented, and then used this inflated noise baseline when measuring the relative amount of additional noise that would be created by implementation of NorCal OAPM. This use of an inflated noise baseline for comparison purposes artificially understated the impact of noise caused by NorCal OAPM, thus rendering the FAA’s conclusions regarding the amount of additional noise created by NorCal OAPM unreliable. Finally, the FAA failed to analyze and consider the cumulative noise impacts of NorCal OAPM when considered in conjunction with other activities outside of NorCal OAPM that are expected independently to increase aircraft noise around SFO over the next several years, despite express authority from this Circuit requiring the FAA to do so.”

If you want to learn much more about the suit, please refer to the Petition for Review here and the Opening Brief FAA-FONSI-Opening-Brief-signed1
 The Petition for Review includes the finding of no significant impact by the FAA for the 32 new flight paths in Northern California.

The suit was initially financed with $25K by an angel donor. The petitioners need $10K between now and July 30, $15K for Aug 1 through mid-Sep, and about $10K for the hearing in mid-Oct.

Mr. Christopher writes: Parties interested in supporting the Portola Valley suit can send a check to:

The Law Offices of Thomas V. Christopher
The Bank of America Center
555 California Street, suite 4925
San Francisco, CA 94104


The check should be made out to “The Law Offices of Thomas V. Christopher”, and in the memo section put ‘For Lyons et. al. v. FAA.’

100% of your donation goes to this lawsuit.


FAA coming to Santa Cruz on Friday to hear concerns of Save Our Skies

Samantha Clark over at the Santa Cruz Sentinel has posted an article discussing the FAA visit and meeting this Friday, also raising the excellent question as to why the meeting is not open to the press or the public. We will do our best to keep you posted on the results.

The article also includes information on the jet-noise survey by Sam Farr’s office.

You can read more here: