Frequently asked questions
Q: Why should I bother reporting disturbances ?
A: Reporting disturbances is important - it establishes a ground truth that people really are annoyed. The SFO Noise Abatement office publishes a monthly report, which gives objective proof to our elected officials that thing aren't right.
If no reports are made, then the FAA can say "well nobody is complaining, so there is no problem" ...
Q: When should I report a disturbance ?
A: If jet noise interrupts what you're doing, or breaks your concentration; if you pause and look up at the sky and curse; then you've been disturbed. You should report it.
Q: What should I put in the notes and volume fields, or that 'activity' dropdown ?
A: Whatever you want. The notes are for you. The volume is a way to try and find out which flights (and airlines) are particularly bad.
Q: What is a caller code, and do I need one ?
A: A caller code is a unique identifier (ABC123) that SFO uses to consistently identify you. You don't need one to submit complaints - but they help SFO make more sense of the reports we send them, so they're encouraged. You can request one by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Can I auto-submit complaints through this site, triggered by a microphone or something ?
A: No. It's important that this stream of complaints is 100% legitimate - i.e. that every single one was the result of a human being disturbed enough to stop what they were doing and click a button. Please respect this, and don't try and game the site with scripts etc.
Q: There are a few people in my house. Should we share one account ?
A: My opinion: no. Different people are disturbed, each can report their own disturbances.
Q: Is this just for SERFR ?
A: No. It's for anything going into or out of SFO. (SERFR1 is the name of the flight path that comes in over Santa Cruz and over the summit to Los Altos.)
Q: What about flights into SJC or OAK ?
A: reports about SJC/OAK flights are routed to SFO. SFO includes them in the totals they publish in their monthly reports, but they're not formally sent on to SJC or OAK. I've not had a lot of traction in getting those airports to accept complaints directly. (Can *you* help with that ?)
Q: Who runs this site ?
A: A local resident, who suddenly found themselves living under SERFR1. You can contact me at email@example.com.
Q: Does this site have anything to do with SFO, or the FAA ?
A: No. I work with the SFO Noise Abatement Group to make sure our reports are received and counted, but this is a personal website I run in my spare time.
Q: Sometimes it says 'could not decide which flight' - is that bad ?
A: No ! It's not as interesting for you, but the report still counts, so you shouldn't worry, even if it misses ten in a row. Flight identification is not important for SFO; they can do it themselves. (If you go to 'UPDATE' that distrubance report, it will show you the list of flights and their distance from your home, and tell you why it couldn't decide - and let you enter the flightnumber, if you know it.)
Q: What do the little numbers mean by the side of the reported flight ?
Q: Is it important that I have the correct address in the system, and my full name ?
A: Yes ! Your reports won't be processed if the address isn't right, or we don't have your name. But it's easy to get right - the form will auto-complete your address as you type, until you can just click on the right thing. (If you don't see your address showing up, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org !)
Q: Why don't you handle unscheduled flights, or anonymous flights, or general aviation, or helicopters ?
A: It's a lot of extra work; focusing on scheduled jets, by far the biggest problem for the majority of people bothered by jet noise, takes up enough time as it is.
Q: Can I get my data ?
A: Yes ! You can generate a personal summary (broken down by time of day, and airline) of your own complaints, and you can also pull down a CSV datafile of your entire history - just look for the links at the bottom of your complaints list.
Q: Is there some kind of summary report of all the complaints ?
A: Yes ! Monthly stats, broken down by city, are available at https://goo.gl/tdnftJ.
Q: I'd like to be more involved - what can I do ?
A: Easiest: get your neighbors complaining too. Even if they do it just once a month - get them set up !
Outreach is a great thing in general. Lots of people are seriously disturbed by the jet noise, but don't realize they can join the fight - let them know ! Get them reporting too !
And keep pressure up on elected officials - this needs to be the number one issue in their mailbox, every month.
Q: What community groups are out there ?
A: Many communities have organizations trying to tackle jet noise: SaveOurSkies-SantaCruz, SkyPosse-PaloAlto, SkyPosse-LosAltos, QuietSkies-NorCal, QuietSkies-LosAltos, QuietSkies-LosAltosHills, SaveOurSkies-EastBay (for Oakland), SanLorenzoValley, QuietSkies-Woodside.
(If yours is not on this list, let me know and I will add it !)
Get in touch with the ones near you, to see what help they need.