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City of Ranchos Palos Verdes, CA Drone “Laws”

Khaleel.mohib

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Hi fellow pilots. This is my first post here but I have had my Mavic Air with me for a couple months. I live in Southern California and I flew around but the drone laws here are killing me.

Here’s the latest example: http://www.rpvca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/8623/Drone-Policy

I wanted to fly my Mavic Air around the coast near Ranchos Palos Verdes, CA. I googled the city laws for drones and found the statement from the city cited above. They asked me to get a permit from a model aircraft carrier club to fly in a city park. I contacted the club owner and he said and I quote his email here:

“Hello,

Are you a member of AMA, have you registered your model(s) with the FAA?

If so please provide your membership number for AMA and your FAA registration numbers.

If you have all of these you will then need to join our club SCORCH. Only current members of the club are allowed to fly at the field. The police and park service patrol the field routinely and will cite any non club members. SCORCH membership is $50 per year.

If you don’t have all the above you’re not allowed to legally fly at the field.

Let me know“

My drone is registered. But I don’t have AMA (American Model Aircraft Association or something of the sort) membership and it costs $65 a year to ge tone. Add that to the $50 that I’ll have to pay to get a membership with SCORCH (local model aircraft club) and I’ll be paying $115 for flying in their city.

With all these regulations, varying from city to city, it’s becoming difficult to fly around here. I’m seriously considering selling my Mavic Air because of this BS. I don’t mind being members of the clubs but I’m not an aircraft modeler. Seriously this thing is pretty messed up.

Edit:

In response to the email above, I sent the following to the SCORCH fellow:

"
Thank you for your prompt response Rob. My drone is registered with the FAA but I am not a member of AMA since I am not a model aircraft enthusiast. I don’t think I’d want to be a member of SCORCH since I do not plan on flying around Point Vincente Park regularly. Which is unfortunate because I was really looking forward to fly around there. I do appreciate your help though in making things clear for me. Maybe this information could be included on the city’s website as well?

Thanks"

Seems like they were listening and updated the link to include information about the AMA requirements and also the $10 fee. Surprising that I was told it was $50 though.
 
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Hi fellow pilots. This is my first post here but I have had my Mavic Air with me for a couple months. I live in Southern California and I flew around but the drone laws here are killing me.

Here’s the latest example: http://www.rpvca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/8623/Drone-Policy

I wanted to fly my Mavic Air around the coast near Ranchos Palos Verdes, CA. I googled the city laws for drones and found the statement from the city cited above. They asked me to get a permit from a model aircraft carrier club to fly in a city park. I contacted the club owner and he said and I quote his email here:

“Hello,

Are you a member of AMA, have you registered your model(s) with the FAA?

If so please provide your membership number for AMA and your FAA registration numbers.

If you have all of these you will then need to join our club SCORCH. Only current members of the club are allowed to fly at the field. The police and park service patrol the field routinely and will cite any non club members. SCORCH membership is $50 per year.

If you don’t have all the above you’re not allowed to legally fly at the field.

Let me know“

My drone is registered. But I don’t have AMA (American Model Aircraft Association or something of the sort) membership and it costs $65 a year to ge tone. Add that to the $50 that I’ll have to pay to get a membership with SCORCH (local model aircraft club) and I’ll be paying $115 for flying in their city.

With all these regulations, varying from city to city, it’s becoming difficult to fly around here. I’m seriously considering selling my Mavic Air because of this BS. I don’t mind being members of the clubs but I’m not an aircraft modeler. Seriously this thing is pretty messed up.
Sounds like they may be in conflict with the FAA. See the fact sheet [https://www.faa.gov/news/updates/?newsId=84369/URL]. Just bear in mind that being right doesn’t prevent you from being cited by local LEO’s. It might not hurt to make the powers that be aware of the FAA fact sheet, but it may take some effort to affect a change.
 

Chip

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This is great test case. Can a governmental entity force someone to pay dues to a private organization and club as a condition of flying a drone in a public park? Id say no way, no how. Not without violating the Constitution and FAA regulatory authority. But, if it was a really nice park and I wanted to fly there I would probably just pay and get the one year pass.
 
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supergimp

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I’m in Los Angeles too. Pretty much everything is off limits. Santa Monica prohibits all radio control in the city limits.
 

Khaleel.mohib

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This is great test case. Can a governmental entity force someone to pay dues to a private organization and club as a condition of flying a drone in a public park? Id say no way, no how. Not without violating the Constitution and FAA regulatory authority. But, if it was a really nice park and I wanted to fly there I would probably just pay and get the one year pass.
The park is pretty scenic. It would have been a great spot to get some great footage. I would have paid to fly there if it were under $10 a year. But they want me to be an AMA member which costs $65 or $75 additionally. That's why I'm out.
 

Khaleel.mohib

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I’m in Los Angeles too. Pretty much everything is off limits. Santa Monica prohibits all radio control in the city limits.
Yeah seems like the only places you can fly are a good 100 miles away from LA.
 

Chip

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The park is pretty scenic. It would have been a great spot to get some great footage. I would have paid to fly there if it were under $10 a year. But they want me to be an AMA member which costs $65 or $75 additionally. That's why I'm out.
Got to be careful with $$. But AMA membership does confer benefits that can be valuable including promotion of your interests in WA DC (maybe), per flight liability insurance and subscription to nice glossy magazine. Even if $$ are tight, it may well be worth it especially if the Park is great and only place to fly.
 

Kevinlacyphoto

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I fly in Rancho palos verdes a lot. I know that they don't want you to fly in parks, in the city but I have found some options. I work at Terranea and flying around the area near the resort is totally legit. I even called the Torrance airport, and the said that the area was unrestricted airspace and I didn't need to call again. You can park at the southbound pull off just past Point Vincent lighthouse, I usually walk the trails a bit and launch right there. The grounds in and around terranea are public land, so anyone can go there. I've been there on the weekend and seen 2-3 other pilots flying with me. Just be careful for helicopters and planes. There are some guys who fly there old ww2 fighter planes from the Torrance airport and they go really fast and really low along the cliffs. Just a heads up. The second place I fly is by the rpv city hall. There is a dog park there and a large gravel lot just before it off to the left, which is not part of the park. There is an old, out of use helicopter pad there and it's a good place to launch and practice. RC helicopter guys like to fly there too. I've never been bothered at either of theae spots. Hope this helps!
 

outie

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I fly in Rancho palos verdes a lot. I know that they don't want you to fly in parks, in the city but I have found some options. I work at Terranea and flying around the area near the resort is totally legit. I even called the Torrance airport, and the said that the area was unrestricted airspace and I didn't need to call again. You can park at the southbound pull off just past Point Vincent lighthouse, I usually walk the trails a bit and launch right there. The grounds in and around terranea are public land, so anyone can go there. I've been there on the weekend and seen 2-3 other pilots flying with me. Just be careful for helicopters and planes. There are some guys who fly there old ww2 fighter planes from the Torrance airport and they go really fast and really low along the cliffs. Just a heads up. The second place I fly is by the rpv city hall. There is a dog park there and a large gravel lot just before it off to the left, which is not part of the park. There is an old, out of use helicopter pad there and it's a good place to launch and practice. RC helicopter guys like to fly there too. I've never been bothered at either of theae spots. Hope this helps!
The city hall / helicopter pad is the AMA/SORCH flying site and require their club membership. Technically you were flying there illegally. All RPV city owned lands, especially city parks, prohibit drones and the only legal place is the city hall with permit.

However, you can fly from private lands and once you are up there you are in FAA territory and the city can’t do anything. I fly from my backyard all the way to bluff cove. If you fly from Terranea then it should be fine.

For OP, you may consider flying from white point beach down in San Pedro. It’s just next to RPV. They don’t have the same BS as RPV.
 

Gryphon962

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I live in PV and just joined the AMA and SCORCH to get permission to fly at city hall. Its ok, but gets old pretty fast as the areas set aside isnt big.

I am looking for other sites, and I am working with SCORCH to open things up a little, as in if you are a member of a club and the AMA, you should be good to go at multiple city sites. I also think we need to start conversations - possibly involving the AMA advocates - to educate these cities that the laws have changed, and those flying under Part 107 (with the cert) should be able to fly anywhere as long as they abide by Part 107 rules.

I am interested in finding out where the modelers fly in Palos Verdes Estates, and Rolling Hills, to see if we can open this up a bit, at least for the Part 107 flyers.
 

AMann

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Hi fellow pilots. This is my first post here but I have had my Mavic Air with me for a couple months. I live in Southern California and I flew around but the drone laws here are killing me.

Here’s the latest example: http://www.rpvca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/8623/Drone-Policy


I wanted to fly my Mavic Air around the coast near Ranchos Palos Verdes, CA. I googled the city laws for drones and found the statement from the city cited above. They asked me to get a permit from a model aircraft carrier club to fly in a city park. I contacted the club owner and he said and I quote his email here:

“Hello,

Are you a member of AMA, have you registered your model(s) with the FAA?

If so please provide your membership number for AMA and your FAA registration numbers.

If you have all of these you will then need to join our club SCORCH. Only current members of the club are allowed to fly at the field. The police and park service patrol the field routinely and will cite any non club members. SCORCH membership is $50 per year.

If you don’t have all the above you’re not allowed to legally fly at the field.

Let me know“

My drone is registered. But I don’t have AMA (American Model Aircraft Association or something of the sort) membership and it costs $65 a year to ge tone. Add that to the $50 that I’ll have to pay to get a membership with SCORCH (local model aircraft club) and I’ll be paying $115 for flying in their city.

With all these regulations, varying from city to city, it’s becoming difficult to fly around here. I’m seriously considering selling my Mavic Air because of this BS. I don’t mind being members of the clubs but I’m not an aircraft modeler. Seriously this thing is pretty messed up.

Edit:

In response to the email above, I sent the following to the SCORCH fellow:

"
Thank you for your prompt response Rob. My drone is registered with the FAA but I am not a member of AMA since I am not a model aircraft enthusiast. I don’t think I’d want to be a member of SCORCH since I do not plan on flying around Point Vincente Park regularly. Which is unfortunate because I was really looking forward to fly around there. I do appreciate your help though in making things clear for me. Maybe this information could be included on the city’s website as well?

Thanks"

Seems like they were listening and updated the link to include information about the AMA requirements and also the $10 fee. Surprising that I was told it was $50 though.
AMA is actually a great group to be a member of, especially since you are a model airplane enthusiast (a drone is a model aircraft). Have you seen their benefits? It includes liability and theft insurance that makes it a great deal! Membership will also allow you to fly at many other fixed sites around the US within controlled airspace, currently a privilege that only 107 certified pilots have.

 
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kensteele

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Membership will also allow you to fly at many other fixed sites around the US within controlled airspace, currently a privilege that only 107 certified pilots have.

while this is a correct statement, it might need some further clarification. i have yet to find any nearby fixed site that will let you fly only with an ama membership. you'll need some other things as well and it's likely to include a separate membership for the club at the fixed site. also pretty sure each fixed sites will not let you fly without ama as a minimum, too.
 
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Gryphon962

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while this is a correct statement, it might need some further clarification. i have yet to find any nearby fixed site that will let you fly only with an ama membership. you'll need some other things as well and it's likely to include a separate membership for the club at the fixed site. also pretty sure each fixed sites will not let you fly without ama as a minimum, too.
That's correct. In RPV there are two clubs (SCORCH and Peninsula Silent Flyers) who get permits from the city by virtue of AMA affiliation. However, there are only two sites (one each) so there is still work to be done. What's neat is the AMA insurance covers you at all times and locations, not just at club sites.
 

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I`m a new flyer, temporary in LA. I was going to fly near Point Vicente Lighthouse yesterday when a man came by and said "It`s not permitted to fly here, they can get a 300$ fine to you". That was really strange for me, as it was my third time there and there were no any problems before. I saw 2 or 3 pilots earlier, who flew there. Besides, it`s one of the recommended places to fly in LA. I registered my drone via FAA and I`m affiliated member of AMA. So, is it permitted to fly in this area without any "but"? I mean, in park near lighthouse itself. I saw a hill further up the road, maybe it would be correct to take off from that hill? I don`t want to violate any laws, but possible restrictions in this area are really surprised me. Can someone explain if AMA membership is enough admission to fly there?
 

Gryphon962

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I`m a new flyer, temporary in LA. I was going to fly near Point Vicente Lighthouse yesterday when a man came by and said "It`s not permitted to fly here, they can get a 300$ fine to you". That was really strange for me, as it was my third time there and there were no any problems before. I saw 2 or 3 pilots earlier, who flew there. Besides, it`s one of the recommended places to fly in LA. I registered my drone via FAA and I`m affiliated member of AMA. So, is it permitted to fly in this area without any "but"? I mean, in park near lighthouse itself. I saw a hill further up the road, maybe it would be correct to take off from that hill? I don`t want to violate any laws, but possible restrictions in this area are really surprised me. Can someone explain if AMA membership is enough admission to fly there?
The city does indeed have laws prohibiting drones and model ac from any city lands except the park you saw up the hill (by city hall) and Del Serro park. But, you have to have a permit from the city, which requires AMA and club membership. The county sheriffs do enforce those laws and they even check that those flying at the legal sites have their permits.

We really need to get the AMA to write to all these cities with drafts of better laws. Current situation forces almost everyone to break the laws unless you are happy flying on one piece of ground. Most city laws don't even recognize Part 107 so there is a good chance you might get hassled by LEOs if flying anywhere but the allowed sites.
 

Gryphon962

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I think we need to act. So I wrote to the AMA, text below. I will keep you all updated on how it goes. If the AMA is willing to engage, then perhaps others in SoCal might wish to send them copies of their local city laws so they can weigh in there too.

Hi,

I recently joined the AMA and a local RC club to fly a sUAS. Now I have gained some experience, and my FAA Part 107 Certificate, I’m looking for more areas to fly. However, it seems that here in sunny SoCal we have a huge problem with local councils making laws that effectively prohibit drone flying anywhere. The councils that impact what I want to do are:
• City of Los Angeles
• City of Rolling Hills Estates
• City of Rancho Palos Verdes
• City of Palos Verdes Estates

A copy of the relevant sections of their codes are attached. You can see that each has different sets of laws. All except Los Angeles treat drones, even under Part 107, in same way as RC flyers. Some (like Rancho Palos Verdes) even require you to get a city permit on top of a specific club membership and AMA membership; it’s insane.

I think the AMA could play a very useful role in educating these cities by providing ‘draft’ legislation that more accurately reflects and references the current Federal laws, but also makes provision for them to prohibit activities at specific locations- (if they really must). However, we should aim to persuade these cities that membership of the AMA meets the CBO requirement for recreational flyers, provides insurance cover, and that therefore no ‘city permits’ should be required for AMA members. We also need to ensure that Part 107 UAS operations (not strictly hobby flying for certified operators) is restricted ONLY by the FAA.

Are you able to engage on this? I can help at my end, identifying city officials who should be contacted. But something has to be done – its like the laws they had in Europe in the late 1800s when autos were invented, saying that if you want to drive a ‘horseless carriage’ you need a man with a flag walking in front.
 

Gryphon962

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The AMA wrote back with a lot of info, including the FAA-published guidance docs written for law enforcement and local legislators. The first is currently on version 3 and covers Part 107 etc but the second one is older and therefore out of date. (I contacted the FAA via the public portal and they claim they updated it in 2018, but didn't.)

The main thing the AMA taught me was that cities get to control land use, so they can prevent landing, take off, and operation from certain lands, like parks, but they cannot impose restrictions on what you do in the air (that belongs to FAA). Of course, cities get that wrong.

So, half armed with some useful insight I approached 2 local cities and one - Palos Verdes Estates - the community policing officer actually responded to say that none of their 'model aircraft' laws apply to drones, and they didn't think they had any drone laws at all. So I went there and flew today, got some nice pictures of the shoreline from vertically above. As I'm testing the water here I was careful to not fly anywhere near anyone's houses, I flew from the clifftop, and didn't stay long. I'm armed with my 107 and my AMA card if needed :)

Here is a reasonable shot of the Pacific crashing onto the CA shore, eroding the cliff under multi-million dollar homes perched right above it...

77587
 
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Thomas B

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Good work in your approach to the towns. Hopefully you have record of the interaction you describe.
 

Gryphon962

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