More than 50 people gathered in a noisy restaurant recently to discuss how noise of another kind keeps them awake in the wee hours of the morning.
The group – residents from northeast Chino and southwest Ontario – are organizing to get some action on noise created by planes flying into and out of nearby Ontario International Airport.
“It wakes you out of a dead sleep. It feels like they’re taxiing on your roof,” Jan Freeman said about her almost nightly encounters with the noise from planes flying over her home near Walnut and Cypress avenues in Chino.
Diane Mellon, who lives just north of Riverside Drive, off Mountain Avenue in Chino, said the noise is worse in the fall when she and her husband leave their bedroom window open. “In hot months, we have the air conditioning on, and the windows closed, so we can’t hear it as much.”
Some of the residents have taken decibel readings of the planes to gauge how bad the noise is at their homes.
The Aug. 18 meeting was organized by Jesse Fonseca, who has lived for 23 years on Cedar Avenue just south of Francis Avenue in Ontario.
There used to be about one or two planes flying low over his home, but now it’s about 40 a day, he said.
Steve Lambert, spokesman for the Airport Authority, which oversees operations at Ontario International Airport, told the Champion in late August that there has been a gradual increase in flight operations (take offs and landings) at Ontario International since it returned to local control in November 2015.
However, he provided a chart that showed that annual flight operations are down significantly from the peak years of 1999 to 2007 when that number ranged from about 136,261 to 156,607. Since 2008, the number has ranged from a low of 83,087 to a high of 124,515. Last year, there were 100,454 total flight operations. So far this year, there have been 56,281.
Mr. Fonseca said he was assured this summer by the Authority that there would be no more take-offs to the west after July 1 when a new ramp was completed.
He said he has cell phone videos and flight pattern data from official airport apps that show planes taking off to the west and banking low over his neighborhood, despite the completion of the ramp.
Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration Pacific Division, said the FAA has not made any changes to departure routes at Ontario International. “As part of our Southern California Metroplex project, we did implement new arrival routes that pass over, or near, Chino,” he said. “However, these routes are only used when ONT is landing to the east. That rarely occurs. In fact, in 2019, we landed to the east at ONT only on portions of 11 days since Jan. 1.”
He said some arriving planes did pass over Chino before they implemented their new project.
Mr. Fonseca said he has been contacting the Authority about once a month for the last 10 years, trying to get some relief.
He has been especially frustrated by the Authority’s reluctance to place the noise issue on its agenda.
Mr. Lambert said there will be no agenda items specifically related to airport noise at the next meeting at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24 “since there is no action the Authority can take on this.”
'Go to meetings'
Mr. Fonseca is encouraging residents bothered by airport noise to go to Authority meetings, which are scheduled for 3 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of every month at the Authority’s office, 1923 E. Avion Ave., Ontario.
Mr. Fonseca has also retained an attorney to help speed things along, he said.
After Mr. Fonseca and other Chino residents complained this summer to the Chino City Council about the airport noise, Chino Mayor Eunice Ulloa sent a letter to the Authority, detailing the residents’ concerns.
City gets involved
City Manager Matt Ballantyne reported Tuesday that city officials met Aug. 21 with members of the Authority, including Ontario city councilman Alan Wapner, who is president of the Authority’s commission.
Chino city officials said they were told that most of the planes causing noise are associated with cargo shipping companies. Mr. Ballantyne said the Authority is now focusing on talking to those companies about minimizing noise levels. He said if that does not produce results, Chino will schedule more meetings with the airport’s oversight group.
On Aug. 29, Mr. Lambert told the Champion the Authority meets regularly with Ontario International’s passenger and cargo airline partners to encourage them to schedule their newest, quietest aircraft at the airport and modernize their fleets with that in mind.
Mr. Ballantyne said he felt the city’s comments at the Aug. 21 meeting were well received by the Authority and that good communication with the Authority has been the “main failure.” He said key contacts with the Authority have now been established.
Chino resident Richard Sherman, who has complained before about the plane noise to the council, said Tuesday that he has noticed a significant drop in noise recently and thanked the mayor and city staff members for their efforts.
Mr. Fonseca, who was also at Tuesday’s council meeting, agreed that things have been quieter.
However, he urged the city and residents to keep the heat on the Authority to keep airport noise at a minimum and to ensure that flights land and take off over industrial areas and not homes.
“We want the airport here,” Mayor Ulloa said. “But they do need to fly from the east and land from the east.”
Mr. Fonseca told the council, “We don’t want the flights to stop, we just want Ontario Airport to be a good neighbor.”