The national media is in a tither this week over the concept of "helicopter traffic" in Los Angeles -- an offshoot of the ridiculous amount of buzz we received for Carmageddon.
Though the big 405 closure turned out to be an anticlimactic breeze, the motherlode of choppers that took to the sky to observe the empty freeway and Mulholland Bridge demolition on July 15 and 16 was a tipping point for nearby residents of L.A.'s more rural, lavish valleys and hills.
So much so, that State Congressman Howard Berman, with pressure from Sherman Oaks homeowners, has proposed the Los Angeles Residential Helicopter Noise Relief Act of 2011...
... which "would force the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to restrict helicopter flight paths and set minimum altitudes within 12 months."
As if Angelenos who live in the flatlands (read: ganglands, homicide holes, proletariat slums) haven't been dealing with this crap for years.
See also, "Good Morning, Venice: Best Buy Heist in West L.A. Leads to Massive Helicopter, K-9 Pursuit," in which the regular 'copter symphony is deliriously described as "a leaf blower, swallowed by a 500-pound rottweiler, stuck in a ceiling fan. But windier. Inside your head." (Whatever man, we were tired. They'd been at it for hours.)
According to Berman's release today, "San Fernando Valley residents suffer more than most from the foundation-rattling flyovers due to the heavy helicopter traffic in and out of the Van Nuys Airport."
But for many residents of L.A.'s lower-lying, smoggier expanses -- South, West, East L.A. and beyond -- the noise has faded to white, as common as LAPD sirens or angry birds on a telephone wire overhead.
In a New York Times piece on Monday called "Helicopters Jam the Skies Above Los Angeles," the paper focuses on the plight of Valley and Hills residents subjected to helicopters driven by private parties, tour guides, the paparazzi and film crews.
The meat of the story:
Yet something of a breaking point might have been reached in recent weeks with the back-to-back freeway shutdown and the royal visit, coming after what seemed like an endless buzz from aerial police chases, with their powerful spotlights (known as night suns) flooding backyards, and paparazzi hovering over the Sherman Oaks home of Charlie Sheen one weekend and of Paris Hilton the next. When the fire department helicopter carrying Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa looped over the Interstate 405 exchange Saturday afternoon, its pilots had to contend with gridlock of another sort: at least three helicopters lingering around the same pass.
Sue Rosen said there were, at any given time, at least five helicopters hovering over her house there. "The noise was nerve-wracking," she said. "The house was vibrating."
Near the Hollywood sign, someone has painted a message on the ground, aimed up at the helicopters, reading "Tourists go away." George Abrahams, director of the Beachwood Canyon Neighborhood Association, said he and other neighbors began two weeks ago using an online flight tracking service to follow helicopters coming out of Van Nuys Airport, and high-powered binoculars to pick off tail numbers, in an effort to identify interlopers.
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SHOW ME HOW
"It's the wild, wild West up there, with nobody taking control," Richard Close, head of the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association, told the Times.
Yup. Welcome, newfound "activists," to the real Los Angeles -- where the average household makes under $30,000 per year and 18 police helicopters, six fire helicopters and 17 sheriff's helicopters are stuck in an eternal, low-flying hover, like bees to a human crimebed.
But hey, if Carmageddon is what it takes to get Sacramento's attention, then by all means, guys: Keep complaining. On behalf of the rest of Los Angeles, many thanks to the Sherman Oaks yups for being such sensitive sleepers.