Calif. State Assembly Passes Bill Restricting UAVs Over Private Property

Posted by Betsy Lillian on August 25, 2015 No Comments
Categories : Policy & Regulations

California legislation that would create a no-fly zone for drones 350 feet or fewer above private property has now passed the State Assembly.

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, first introduced the bill, S.B.142, in January. According to the status of the legislation, it is now back in the Senate for Assembly amendments.

Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) industry stakeholders have spoken out against the legislation, including the Small UAV Coalition, which recently stated in a letter to the senator that the bill “would needlessly and dramatically obstruct the growth of an industry that currently employs thousands of Californians and inhibit the safety benefits this technology offers.”

The coalition noted that the provisions of the bill would potentially inhibit search-and-rescue, delivery, precision agriculture and real estate marketing applications.

According to Jackson, California law already prohibits people from entering others’ private property without permission and from photographing or recording conversations. S.B.142 clarifies that the rules pertaining to trespassing also apply to entry by UAVs on private property, she said in July.

“This bill would extend our long-established definitions of trespassing and privacy and bring them into the 21st century by applying them also to drones,” Jackson explained.

Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), wrote in a Sacramento Bee piece that the legislation “would create inconsistencies with federal law” because only the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has jurisdiction over airspace, rather than states or municipalities.

Wynne writes that although there exists “much uncertainty about where operators should and shouldn’t fly and for what purpose,” we must “support the growth and development of this industry rather than restrict it.” He also notes the importance of the FAA’s finalizing the rules for commercial UAS operations in order to ease this uncertainty.

In a statement from AUVSI, Wynne says, ‘AUVSI is deeply disappointed with the passage of S.B.142 in the California Assembly. While the industry supports the safe, non-intrusive use of UAS technology, S.B.142 creates inconsistencies with federal law that has the potential to further confuse UAS users and stifle economic growth in California.’

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