Beginning early this morning, several helicopters, water
tank trucks & fire personnel conducted fire maneuvers from the Chatsworth
Nature Preserve helipad, lasting throughout the morning.
Five helicopters were relaying to & from the pad, filling with water & flying to a drop destination. A Chatsworth resident, riding her horse, stated that some water was being dropped over Oat Canyon.
No notice was given to the residents who live along the Nature Preserve property line. Residents were confused & unnerved by the activity with no notice of a fire. Said one resident, "I didn't know whether to go to work or start packing up the house".
Another stated she spent 2 hours searching the web for info on where the fire was. Calls to the local fire dept. were sent to voice mail. Finally, after being pressed, the city fire dept. admitted it was a drill.
Another resident, a young mom with a toddler, stated that the noise was very disruptive & she was concerned that the extended noise of several helicopters flying directly overhead & lingering so close would be damaging for the child's hearing.
While these maneuvers are essential for the safety of the community & the fire dept is deeply appreciated & supported, residents feel disregarded & disrespected by the police, fire dept. & Dept. of Water & Power, all of whom frequent the Nature Preserve airspace.
Residents are disturbed on a daily basis by helicopters flying through and around the reservoir several times a day. Many of these flights occur at night and early morning. One resident stated" All they see is this big open field & think its an ideal place to buzz around. They don't realize that we are right there too & it's incredibly aggravating to see & hear these helicopters circling round & round, buzzing our houses as they pass through. It was bad before the helipad went in last year but now its ruining our quality of life.
Some fire & police helicopters are using it as a shortcut to get to the opposite side of the valley, stated an LA fireman. Other times the Dept. of Water & Power or the police are doing a routine property check.
However, according to residents who live at the property line, there are far too many daily helicopter flights occurring than are necessary. Residents watch these copters hover over the Ecology Pond, circle the Preserve repeatedly, land in open spaces & take off. Some are LAPD, some are LAFD and some are unidentified.
Residents are now documenting this activity & are demanding some consideration. Among their requests are notifications posted on the LAFD, LAPD and community web sites listing when these routine property checks are going to occur and especially when fire maneuvers are planned. This would give residents forewarning.
Also requested is a ban on all non-essential fly-throughs, landings & circling and no recreational air activity permitted by government of civilian aircraft. This will limit the curiousity factor than may contribute to all the activity. Residents state regularly seeing helicopters land on the helipad & watching 1-3 men either sitting inside the copter or just walking around on the helipad area.
Since the area is a nature preserve, residents & environmental groups are concerned about the effect that repeated disturbances & noise have on the wildlife. Stated one environmentalist, “While the animals have adapted to some human activity, they are, for the most part, still very easily disturbed by the level of noise & helicopter activity taking place, particularly during nesting & breeding seasons. While some activity is warranted & necessary, the activity should be kept to what is essential only.
Another concern from the residents is the claim by L.A. city officials & the Dept of Water & Power that the Ecology Pond is no longer being filled & maintained with adequate water because there is a water shortage & the cost is too high. Yet, dozens of water drops occurred today for practice. Each drop is approximately 500 gallons.
The Ecology Pond is an essential source of water & habitat for all the wildlife in the Nature Preserve. Said one environmentalist, “There are no other open sources of water for these animals. Thousands of birds & dozens of mammal species including deer, fox & bobcat need the pond to survive”. “Surely it is worth keeping the pond vital & healthy by adding water once in a while’.