There has been a proliferation of legislative proposals to regulate the domestic use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) at the county and municipal levels. Many of the proposals have been drafted specifically to address privacy concerns regarding the use of UAS by public employees, and most of the proposals regulate UAS altitudes and proximity to airports in the regulated locality. Cities large and small, from New York, New York and Los Angeles, California to St. Bonifacius, Minnesota and Grand Forks, North Dakota have passed resolutions regulating the use of UAS. Comparing and contrasting localized UAS prescriptions sheds light on regional concerns and future trends.
Read the National League of Cities (NLC) Cities and Drones report, which provides cities with insight on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules relating to drone operation. The report also provides suggestions for how local governments can craft their own drone ordinances to encourage innovation while also protecting their cities.
Los Angeles Drone Ordinance:
“AN ORDINANCE ADDING SECTION 56.31 TO ARTICLE 6 OF CHAPTER V OF THE LOS ANGELES MUNICIPAL CODE TO IMPOSE COMMUNITY-BASED SAFETY REQUIREMENTS ON THE OPERATION OF MODEL AIRCRAFT AND TO IMPOSE RESTRICTIONS CONSISTENT WITH CERTAIN FEDERAL AVIATION RULES ON THE OPERATION OF BOTH MODEL AIRCRAFT AND CIVIL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS (UASs), COMMONLY KNOWN AS DRONES”
Status: December 2, 2015–Ordinance became effective
Drone Prohibition Ordinance:
“AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF RANCHO MIRAGE AMENDING DIVISION III “OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC PEACE” OF TITLE 9 “PUBLIC PEACE, MORALS AND WELFARE” OF THE RANCHO MIRAGE MUNICIPAL CODE TO PROHIBIT THE FLYING OF DRONES IN RESIDENTIALLY ZONED AREAS OF THE CITY”
Status: April 4, 2013–Submitted to Mayor and City Council
“The purpose of this Article is to establish a registration system for hobby operators and regulations pertaining to any unmanned aircraft system operating within the jurisdictional borders of the City. It is the intent of this Article to be interpreted in conformance with any existing or future federal or state laws or regulations that address the operation of unmanned aircraft systems.”
“An ordinance to defend the sovereign airspace of the Town of Deer Trail, Colorado, and that of its citizens, their homes, businesses, related properties and interests, from unwanted incursions by small unmanned aerial vehicles (popularly referred to as ‘drones’).”
Drafted by: Phillip Steel
*Scheduled to go before the town council 08/06/2013
“Any person who obtains a special event permit may use a drone to photograph
their special event in the park during the course of the event. For hobby or recreational use, unmanned remote control non-occupied planes and drones may only be flown at Community Park, unless there is a concessionaire agreement. Use of unmanned aircraft may only occur when the fields are unoccupied . . . .”
Miami City Code Section 37-12
“This section is intended to promote public safety and protect people attending large venue public events from the flying of unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS”) in and over such large public events. The city commission wishes to regulate the use of UAS within a half-mile radius around stadiums and sport facilities when these devices are in use, and over other large venue special events in public parks, public facilities, streets, plazas, open spaces and the like that will attract large groups of people. All restrictions are intended to protect persons gathered in groups where a UAS incident would cause greater harm and risk of injury due to a greater number of people gathered in a close proximity. It is not intended to restrict legitimate hobbyists operating UAS in compliance with FAA rules and any other applicable laws, and outside of the prohibited areas. This Section is not intended to preempt FAA rules, but rather to operate in conjunction with those rules to promote public safety while recognizing the limitation in the FAA’s enforcement capabilities.”
ORDINANCE AMENDING TITLE 9, ENTITLED “MOTOR VEHICLES AND TRAFFIC:
“ORDINANCE AMENDING TITLE 9, ENTITLED “MOTOR VEHICLES AND TRAFFIC,” OF THE CITY CODE BY ADOPTING AN ORDINANCE SIMILAR IN SUBSTANCE TO THE PROPOSED INITIATIVE ON TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT CAMERAS AND DRONES, AUTOMATIC LICENSE PLATE RECOGNITION SYSTEMS AND OTHER KINDS OF TRAFFIC SURVEILLANCE SYSTEMS, AND BY REPEALING ORDINANCE NO. 12-4466 THAT ENABLED AUTOMATIC TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT.”
Drones Banned on Barnstable’s Public Beaches:
A public hearing on changes to the rules and regulations for Barnstable’s bathing beaches was held on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 at Town Hall. The change is an addition under section 401A-6(C) Prohibited Activities: “Using, launching, landing or operating an unmanned aircraft from, or on, land or waters associated with any of the Town of Barnstable bathing beaches is prohibited except as approved in writing by the Town Manager.” The term “unmanned aircraft” includes devices like model airplanes, quadrocopters, and drones that are used for any purposes including recreation or commerce. After reviewing the public comment and explanation from staff on the safety issues involved, I took the matter under advisement. Based on further information received from the FAA and our legal staff regarding the regulation of “airspace”, I have amended the regulations to take out the word “above” and restrict the regulation to the launching and landing of drones on a public beach. This regulation will be reviewed at the end of the summer season to see if it has been effective or needs further amending.
*Barnstable has not updated regulation on its website yet, but the official can be found here when it is available.
Resolution on Drone Aircraft:
“BE IT RESOLVED, that the City of Northampton calls on the U.S. government to immediately end its practice of extrajudicial killing by armed drone aircraft . . . that the City of Northampton affirms that, within the city limits, the navigable airspace for drone aircraft s hall not be expanded below the long – established airspace for manned aircraft . . . that the City of Northampton affirms that within the city limits, landowners subject to state laws and local ordinances have exclusive control of the immediate reaches of the airspace and that no drone aircraft shall have the ‘public right of transit’ through this private property.”
“(j) The flying and/or launching of unmanned aircraft by the public, including model or remote control airplanes, helicopters, recreational drones and rockets, is prohibited. This shall not prohibit any federal, state, county or municipal agency, law enforcement agency or emergency services organization from the use of drones and unmanned aircraft for any lawful and authorized purpose pursuant to applicable regulation. ”
“WHEREAS, drone technology includes “drones,” which are unmanned aircraft that can
fly under the control of a remote pilot or via a geographic positions system guided autopilot
mode, can fly at altitudes below the navigable airspace (generally 400’), and are equipped with
surveillance technologies (e.g., high definition cameras, night vision cameras, and infrared-seethrough
scopes) . . . unmanned aircraft are prohibited from operating or flying in any airspace below 400 feet within the airspace over any government or public buildings, property, or parks within the Township.”
“Operation of unmanned aircraft/unmanned aircraft system.
(1) It shall be unlawful for any person to operate an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system upon or in the airspace within one mile of an open-air event in the Town of Orchard Park wherein more than 200 individuals could gather for an organized event, including, but not limited to, parades, concerts, street dances, festivals, art shows, sporting events and recreational events.
It shall be unlawful for any person to operate an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system upon or in the airspace within three miles of the Ralph Wilson Stadium Complex on the day of any event held at the Ralph Wilson Stadium Complex or four hours prior to and two hours after any event held at the Ralph Wilson Stadium Complex.
“BE IT RESOLVED, that this Resolution declares that no agency of the City of Syracuse, nor any agents under contract with the City, will operate Drones in the airspace over the City of Syracuse until federal and state laws, rules and regulations regarding the use of Drones are adopted that adequately protects the privacy of the population as guaranteed by the First and Fourth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution;”
“AN ORDINANCE RESTRICTING THE USE OF UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES (ALSO KNOWN AS “DRONES”) BY INDIVIDUALS AND BUSINESSES OVER THE AIRSPACE ABOVE ANY CITY-OWNED PROPERTY , ABOVE ANY CITY RIGHT-OF-WAY, AND ABOVE ANY EASEMENT GRANTED IN FAVOR OF THE CITY; EXEMPTIONS AND REQUIREMENTS THEREOF; AND DECLARING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.”
“Legislation has been passed permits authorities to assist the Federal Aviation Administration in regulating aerial drones.”
*Cleveland has not updated regulation on its website yet, but the official can be found here when it is available.
“Ordinance amending and supplementing the City of Pittsburgh Code, Title Four (“Public Places and Property”), Article XI (“Parks and Playgrounds”) by amending Chapter 473 with respect to the operation of drones and other activities involving airborne objects or persons located within, above or in the vicinity of City parks and playgrounds.”
“NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, calls on the United States Congress and the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia, to adopt legislation prohibiting the use of drones for surveillance, and prohibiting information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into a Federal or State court, and precluding the domestic use of drones equipped with anti-personnel devices, meaning any projectile, chemical, electrical, directed-energy (visible or invisible), or other device designed to harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact a human being.”
Submitted by: David Swanson
Proposed Ordinance No. 2013-28:
Full Title: An Ordinance of the Pierce County Council Adopting a New Chapter 1.30 of the Pierce County Code, “Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance”
Sponsors: Councilmembers Dan Roach, Stan Flemming
Status: June 18, 2013–Referred to the Public Safety and Human Services Committee
Council Bill Number 117707:
“AN ORDINANCE relating to the regulation of unmanned aircraft systems operated by the Seattle Police Department; adopting City policies regarding the acquisition and operation of unmanned aircraft systems; and establishing a new Chapter 14.18 in the Seattle Municipal Code.”
Sponsor: HARRELL; CO-SPONSOR CLARK
*Proposal Died after Mayor Cancelled Police Drone Program
“Whereas, USI is willing and able to grant additional assurances including: UAV operation will comply with all applicable legal requirements at all times, including but not limited to FAA Regulatory requirements. UAV will not be equipped with surveillance equipment and surveillance operations will not be conducted. The cameras on the UAV have a fixed lens that only streams real time video to allow the pilot to operate the aircraft. The imagery from these cameras provide about the same view that an individual would see if actually in the aircraft during flight . . . .”