Gov. Brown Vetoes Bill Banning Drones Over Private Property


Gov. Jerry Brown, D-Calif., has vetoed S.B.142, a measure that would have created a no-fly zone for drones 350 feet or fewer above private property in California.

In his veto message dated Sept. 9, Brown states that he is returning S.B.142 without his signature.

“Drone technology certainly raises novel issues that merit careful examination,” he writes.

“This bill, however, while well-intentioned, could expose the occasional hobbyist and the [Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)]-approved commercial user alike to burdensome litigation and new causes of action.

“Before we go down that path, let’s look at this more carefully,” he says.

The bill was introduced by State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, in January. In August, the measure passed in the Senate by a 21-10 vote before heading to the governor’s desk.

Many unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) stakeholders and organizations, including the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the Consumer Electronics Association and the Small UAV Coalition, spoke out against the legislation and encouraged the public to urge Brown to veto the bill.

In a statement, Brian Wynne, president and CEO of AUVSI, says, “We applaud Gov. Brown for vetoing this unnecessary and restrictive legislation. While the industry supports the safe, non-intrusive use of UAS technology, S.B.142 would have stifled innovation, hampered economic growth and created inconsistencies with federal law.

“S.B.142 was also in direct contradiction with federal law because only the FAA can regulate airspace; states and municipalities cannot. According to the U.S. Code, ‘The United States Government has exclusive sovereignty of airspace of the United States.’

“The defeat of S.B.142 does not remove the urgency for the FAA to finalize its long-awaited rules on small unmanned aircraft. There is much uncertainty about where operators should and shouldn’t fly; until the FAA acts, legislation such as S.B.142 will continue to exacerbate this confusion,” he states.

The Small UAV Coalition says it recognizes and appreciates Gov. Brown’s consideration of the leading role California plays in technological advancements and the vast economic potential of the UAV industry. The group stands ready to work with the governor, the California Legislature and other stakeholders to ensure the technology continues to captivate consumers and promote economic efficiencies while safeguarding and respecting consumer rights.

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