City Hall

Dallas Looks to Muffle the Noise at Love Field Airport. Some Say the Process Feels Rushed.

Flight Tracker shows noise levels around Dallas Love Field Airport on Oct. 31.
Flight Tracker shows noise levels around Dallas Love Field Airport on Oct. 31. Flight Tracker, screenshot
During the day, Grant Kinser can usually hear “screaming, small jets” whizzing through the sky, coming and going from Dallas Love Field Airport. Kinser said the other day he heard one around 1:30 a.m. “You bet your bottom dollar I put in a noise complaint about that,” he said.

Dallas has a voluntary noise abatement program that’s intended to help make Love Field quieter. But, residents like Kinser who live near the airport still have plenty of complaints about the noise. The city is working on changes to the program that could lead to improvements, but some feel they’ve been left out of the process and that it’s been rushed.

Kinser, for one, said he hadn’t heard the program was getting an update until the Observer called and asked him about it.

A city memo from Friday details several questions from residents participating in the stakeholder process and the city’s response. Many of them said the same thing — the process feels rushed and needs more community engagement. But, the city says it’s going to take the time to hear everyone out before coming up with changes to the program. Those changes would then be passed on to City Council for consideration.

The city hasn’t reviewed its voluntary noise abatement program for 30 years.

Dallas’ department of aviation is monitored by the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure compliance with all regulations. The city’s first noise abatement program was approved in 1986 after residents near Love Field complained about all of the noise and decided to organize. Despite these efforts, complaints about the noise have continued to flood into the city. Nearly 3,800 complaints were sent to the city in two three-month periods last year.

“If additional time/meetings are needed to reach consensus on recommendations from the stakeholder group, then that can be accommodated.” – city of Dallas

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The tentative schedule for the changes included one meeting to brainstorm ideas following, as one resident put it in their question to the city, “very sparse advance neighborhood engagement – most of which has been on the part of the individual stakeholders and not sponsored by the city of Dallas.”

But the city's aviation department doesn’t have any plans to rush the process and says there’s no set deadline for the changes yet.

“A reasonable schedule was developed to ensure adequate time was spent to consider modifications to the existing Voluntary Noise Program and most effectively use available resources,” the city said in the Friday memo. “If additional time/meetings are needed to reach consensus on recommendations from the stakeholder group, then that can be accommodated.”

Some said that successful noise abatement programs in other parts of the country involved a robust community engagement process and Dallas’ should too.

“The city has no plans to ‘rush’ the stakeholder process,” the memo said. “It is important to note that this engagement extends to all those affected, not just the neighborhoods that surround Love Field. As development continues to encroach on the airport, there must be a balance between the residents that live near the airport and the economic impact of having a convenient airport with over 40 non-stop destinations that drive much of the city’s economic vibrancy.”

The airport supports over 10,000 jobs, according to the city.

Residents also said they believed Dallas should wait to update the program until new noise data from the airport is collected and considered. Discussions are also taking place at the federal level about how the FAA manages noisy airports. Some say the city should wait to see what comes of these talks before moving forward with changes to its program.

The city, however, says it will always follow federal aviation regulations, so if the FAA makes a change, Dallas’ program would have to change with it. Additionally, the city says it has plenty of noise data from the airport already, so there’s no reason to wait for more.

As for the community engagement, the city says it has taken part in discussions with residents and others for years in search of ways to mitigate the noise coming from Love Field, and it will continue to do so.

“Opportunities for improving airport operations and enhancements to the efforts by the airport to mitigate the impact of noise have been ongoing for years,” the city said. “The Love Field Environmental Advisory Committee has been meeting quarterly for decades and have made several recommendations to improvements to the Voluntary Noise Abatement Program. The current stakeholder process to make additional modifications is a continuation of that commitment.”

Kinser said he wants the airport to be successful, but he also wants to be able to coexist with it. "Don't get me wrong, I love Love Field," he said. "I wish they'd make a lot of money for the city, but, you know, if they'd just help a neighbor out with the noise, it'd be even better."
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn

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