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Public Safety Committee Will Consider New Local Regulations for Drones

Published on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 | 5:21 am

The Pasadena City Council’s Public Safety Committee will consider proposed City regulations for the use of unmanned aircraft systems — drones — when it convenes on Wednesday, March 15.

The Committee could decide to pursue recommendations from the Pasadena Police Department and the City Manager’s Office, which comprise a Drone Policy Internal Working Group, to establish some policies for the use of drones within City limits, apart from already existing federal regulations.

The working group has determined that three important public safety considerations should be addressed if a local policy is to be implemented: careless and reckless operation by drone pilots, use of drones during special events in Pasadena, and their use near critical infrastructure in the City.

The group is recommending that the City Council, through the Public Safety Committee, direct the City Attorney to draft an ordinance to include these considerations.

In an Agenda Report for the City Council, City Manager Steve Mermell said the federal government, through the Federal Aviation Administration, has the authority to regulate the navigable airspace. The FAA, however, has indicated that there is some leeway for state and local regulation, and because of this, City staff have done research on existing state and municipal ordinances related to drones, and will be presenting the results at the Public Safety Committee meeting.

Initially, the Pasadena Police Department and the City Manager’s Office is primarily concerned with drone use over public spaces, including streets and sidewalks, where careless operation could lead to injury to non-participants, as well as near such infrastructure as the Glenarm Power Plant, police and fire stations, City Hall, City Yards, water storage and electric transmission facilities, transit operations facilities and over light rail.

During special events, City staff is recommending that the City Council limit drone flights only to events where the property owner and the organizer have granted permission.

In major events, such as the Rose Parade in Pasadena, the FAA usually implements a “No Drone Zone” that prohibits the operation of drones over big crowds of people.

The FAA does not require hobbyists and recreational users to pass certification or a Transportation Security Administration vetting process, but the Pasadena Drone Internal Police Working Group said new regulations could develop any time, and the City should be prepared to adjust its own drone policies.

Also at its meeting Wednesday, the Public Safety Committee will hear a presentation from the Pasadena Department of Public Health about the latest Suicide Data Update, and reports about the 2016 Use of Force Overview and 2016 Discipline Overview from the Pasadena Police Department.

The Public Safety Committee meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the City Council Chambers, Room S249 at City Hall.

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