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Tell It To the Judge...

Norb_DAIS

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I went out earlier this morning to get some video of the windmills near my home. I've been looking at them every day on my commute and finally looked up a convenient launch area just off the highway.

When I finally got there, the sun was behind and to the right of my planned approach. I considered coming back later in the afternoon when the sun would be behind the shot, but decided to just fly anyway.

Long story short, the regional park ranger pulled up behind me and informed me that the (regional park) police was on the way and they would be asking me some questions.

Turns out the land on the other side of the freeway is a regional preserve and my drone flying over the space was prohibited. Therefore, I was issued a citation with a notice to appear in late November.

 

Thunderdrones

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If you did not take off and land from park property, they dont have a leg to stand on. They can not regulate airspace above their parklands.

Ordinance 38, Section 409.3

"409.3 Operate self-propelled (motor driven) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS aka “drone”) model aircraft, boats, automobiles, or other model craft of any kind or description, or fly any UAS closer than 500 feet above District parklands, as defined by Federal Regulations; (rev. 4/16)."

This is a definition of their "District." They are not a federal authority. They can make up their own rules, but they cant control the airspace. Their tactic is to scare you off by giving you a citation, and make you go to court. Most people would just pay the fine, and not do it again. You were within your rights to fly there. The bad news is that a District judge will probably side with the police, whether or not they are wrong, and then you will need to get a lawyer if you want to contest it.

SECTION 101. DISTRICT DEFINED. “District” means the East Bay Regional Park District, and includes all lands and waters owned, controlled, or managed by the East Bay Regional Park District, which shall hereinafter be referred to as “parklands.”

https://api.municode.com/CD/Ordinances/15400/769233?forceDownload=true

One last thing, and Im not sure why this got stuck in my craw. I called the East Bay Park Police and they said they are not a federal entity, just a district entity. They patrol some federal land but can not enforce violations.
 
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Norb_DAIS

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If you did not take off and land from park property, they dont have a leg to stand on. They can not regulate airspace above their parklands.

Ordinance 38, Section 409.3

"409.3 Operate self-propelled (motor driven) Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS aka “drone”) model aircraft, boats, automobiles, or other model craft of any kind or description, or fly any UAS closer than 500 feet above District parklands, as defined by Federal Regulations; (rev. 4/16)."

This is a definition of their "District." They are not a federal authority. They can make up their own rules, but they cant control the airspace. Their tactic is to scare you off by giving you a citation, and make you go to court. Most people would just pay the fine, and not do it again. You were within your rights to fly there. The bad news is that a District judge will probably side with the police, whether or not they are wrong, and then you will need to get a lawyer if you want to contest it.

SECTION 101. DISTRICT DEFINED. “District” means the East Bay Regional Park District, and includes all lands and waters owned, controlled, or managed by the East Bay Regional Park District, which shall hereinafter be referred to as “parklands.”

https://api.municode.com/CD/Ordinances/15400/769233?forceDownload=true

One last thing, and Im not sure why this got stuck in my craw. I called the East Bay Park Police and they said they are not a federal entity, just a district entity. They patrol some federal land but can not enforce violations.
That is my mindset after reading through some other experiences here and from others posting on YouTube, although, short of getting legal advice from an attorney experienced in this area, I'm likely to just go to the court, speak my peace (respectfully) and pay the fine.

My wife told me that my first check from doing drone work may be going to pay the fine.
 

Thunderdrones

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That is my mindset after reading through some other experiences here and from others posting on YouTube, although, short of getting legal advice from an attorney experienced in this area, I'm likely to just go to the court, speak my peace (respectfully) and pay the fine.

My wife told me that my first check from doing drone work may be going to pay the fine.
Well, for one thing, you did the right thing by being calm and not fighting with them, which could have resulted in your arrest. Your best defense will be a good offense in front of the judge.

  • Bring the FAA rules about UAV's
  • Bring a printout of where you took off and landed from which was outside the parks jurisdiction.
  • Bring drone FAA registration
  • If you have a 107, bring that too
  • Tell them that now that you know, you will not do it again (begging for mercy even though you were right)
  • If found guilty, try to bargain with the judge to get off with a warning, or reduced fine.
One final word... try not to ignore it (I know you wont). Stupid little tickets like this can come back to bite if you left unaddressed.
 
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one800higgins

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I'm a little confused. Coming into hobby recently, I'm still figuring out the rules and regulations on flying.

I know National Parks are prohibited. I also know that some states prohibit flying over State Parks. I looked up CA (since I was planning on flying there in November) and was under the impression that certain types of state parks were outright banned, but that some parks aren't. The state's website directs you to the individual park districts for determining if it's lawful to fly there.

The apps I've found show US National Parks, but state parks aren't marked by the apps. Also, district / municipal parks aren't marked as prohibited by the apps and aren't always shown on online maps.

So my confusion is that the replies in this thread seem to indicate that OP did nothing wrong? If he flew over a district park area within 500', why wouldn't the park's regulations apply?

Edit: Also I found the spot on Google Maps and see that it is designated a Regional Preserve, and California's state parks department notes that preserves are off limits for drones.
 
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Thunderdrones

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So my confusion is that the replies in this thread seem to indicate that OP did nothing wrong? If he flew over a district park area within 500', why wouldn't the park's regulations apply?

Edit: Also I found the spot on Google Maps and see that it is designated a Regional Preserve, and California's state parks department notes that preserves are off limits for drones.
Overflying a park within FAA rules is not illegal. States and local municipalities can pass whatever legislation they want to try and stop people from flying, or to just raise revenues. It doesnt make it federally legitimate, it just makes it daunting for pilots to test the system.

Some day, if not already, a drone pilot will appear before the Supreme Court to defend his or her right, under FAA rules, to fly where he or she wants to, as long as it is compliance with FAA regs. It will be an expensive fight, and without lobbyists in Washington, we drone owners face an uphill battle. DJI doesnt have a lobby, they just sell drones and try to comply so they dont lose business by adding restrictive geofencing in their app.
 

one800higgins

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Overflying a park within FAA rules is not illegal. States and local municipalities can pass whatever legislation they want to try and stop people from flying, or to just raise revenues. It doesnt make it legitimate, it just makes it daunting for pilots to test the system.
Interesting. Is there precedent to support this or just the common understanding in the drone community? If someone’s fought it, then certainly there’s some sort of case law to support this idea?

I was under the impression that FAA doesn’t get too involved below 500’, aside from ensuring the safety of aircrafts. For instance, a 15 story building can be built without contacting the FAA, but if that building is within proximity of an airport or helipad or something, then the FAA can step in and require them to change building plans and reduce height for the safety of nearby aircraft.
 
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Thunderdrones

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Are you referring to a federal or local precedent?

Here are the airspace restrictions straight from the FAA.

Airspace Restrictions
 

one800higgins

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Thanks for the link. I get it now. I’m still getting used to the idea that drones are actually registered aircraft.

I found this, which puts it very plainly: Press Release – FAA Statement–Federal vs. Local Drone Authority

It sounds like the IPP could lead to states having some power to regulate drones in these lower airspaces, or at least providing feedback to the FAA that might lead to new rules and regulations, but until then... Well, this ticket is illegitimate.

Guess it’s time to print up some FAA info and toss it in my case! Thanks for the insight.
 

Thunderdrones

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Guess it’s time to print up some FAA info and toss it in my case! Thanks for the insight.
Not a bad idea. I took a tour of Asia not too long ago, and I printed a copy of each countries drone policies before I left on my trip. It was 100 pages, and never had to use it once. Felt good to have though.
 
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Norb_DAIS

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Thanks for the link. I get it now. I’m still getting used to the idea that drones are actually registered aircraft.

I found this, which puts it very plainly: Press Release – FAA Statement–Federal vs. Local Drone Authority

It sounds like the IPP could lead to states having some power to regulate drones in these lower airspaces, or at least providing feedback to the FAA that might lead to new rules and regulations, but until then... Well, this ticket is illegitimate.

Guess it’s time to print up some FAA info and toss it in my case! Thanks for the insight.
This is helpful information. But it brings us back to the debate about what our rights are as drone pilots (both hobbyists and P107s) and what local, state or other than the FAA entities can codify and enforce.

I tend to just want to stay out of the mix, but I do appreciate what should be the right to fly safely and responsibly...if that makes any sense.

Looking back at AirMap, they do identify the area as a regional preserve. I overlooked it when I submitted the flight plan and was more focused on the restrictions tab, which indicated none.
 
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maxfaxdude

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This sort of grief for peacefully flying a drone without any wrongdoing is exactly why I left the Bay Area years ago. Had you been an illegal (pardon me...undocumented) immigrant smoking marijuana and protesting some sort of perceived social injustice, law enforcement would have also likely showed up not stop you, but to insure your safety and to further facilitate your efforts no matter how misguided they may be.
 

one800higgins

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This is helpful information. But it brings us back to the debate about what our rights are as drone pilots (both hobbyists and P107s) and what local, state or other than the FAA entities can codify and enforce.

I tend to just want to stay out of the mix, but I do appreciate what should be the right to fly safely and responsibly...if that makes any sense.

Looking back at AirMap, they do identify the area as a regional preserve. I overlooked it when I submitted the flight plan and was more focused on the restrictions tab, which indicated none.
I assume the law in CA was introduced before November of last year when the FAA made it plainly clear that no local or state governments could preclude Federal regulation of airspace. It seems the IPP is designed to get feedback from entities that want more control, but it’s been made clear by the FAA that these entities have no control over the airspace now and only on landing and takeoff.

Looks like we’ll see more (legally valid) regulation in the future, but at the moment any laws on the books regarding airspace and air traffic that are not set by the federal government are invalid.
 

Prmath

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I went out earlier this morning to get some video of the windmills near my home. I've been looking at them every day on my commute and finally looked up a convenient launch area just off the highway.

When I finally got there, the sun was behind and to the right of my planned approach. I considered coming back later in the afternoon when the sun would be behind the shot, but decided to just fly anyway.

Long story short, the regional park ranger pulled up behind me and informed me that the (regional park) police was on the way and they would be asking me some questions.

Turns out the land on the other side of the freeway is a regional preserve and my drone flying over the space was prohibited. Therefore, I was issued a citation with a notice to appear in late November.

PLEASE, keep us informed about this........
How did that Officer know you were out there in middle of nowhere flying???
Do they have drone Radar?
 

Norb_DAIS

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I assume the law in CA was introduced before November of last year when the FAA made it plainly clear that no local or state governments could preclude Federal regulation of airspace. It seems the IPP is designed to get feedback from entities that want more control, but it’s been made clear by the FAA that these entities have no control over the airspace now and only on landing and takeoff.

Looks like we’ll see more (legally valid) regulation in the future, but at the moment any laws on the books regarding airspace and air traffic that are not set by the federal government are invalid.
I'll be printing all of that info and doing more research before my court date. I don't know how these citation hearing work though...will I be given a chance to explain or demonstrate that the park district's ordinance is invalid relative to control of the airspace above it? Assuming of course that I can make that case.

20180929_090537.jpeg
 
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