Fixing the Port of Portland

September 19, 2015

Steve Duin Oregonian Editorial "You Can't Fix the Port If You Don't Think It's Broke"

Click on You Can't Fix the Port if You Don't Think It's Broke to access a perceptive, insightful and informative 9/13/15 Oregonian editorial on the Port of Portland by Steve Duin.

Also included in this posting is an article from our archives dating back to January 2, 2007 by Robert Bailey, a highly regarded Washington County activist with a successful track record in addressing land use, environmental and citizen's rights issues. He currently serves on the board of Save Helvetia and is also a member of the Intel Air Quality Advisory Committee. At the time the article was initially disseminated a group of citizens were proposing statutory changes including a recommendation that the Port of Portland Commissioners be elected rather than appointed by the Governor. Though the effort failed, in the interest of protecting and defending fundamental democratic principles, it remains a worthy cause.

Please note: The article below refers to Hillsboro Aviation's flight training school. The school underwent a name change to Hillsboro Aero Academy in 2014 after it was sold to two out of state, east coast investors - Renovus Capital and Graycliff Partners.

The Port of Portland: A Major Overhaul is Long Overdue

by Robert Bailey

Ever wonder why the Port of Portland seems unresponsive to citizen concerns? One reason may be that, unlike all the other port authorities in the state of Oregon, the Port of Portland's commissioners are not elected by the people they supposedly represent.

And why does the Port continually ignore livability concerns? Perhaps it's because the Port's charter tells the commissioners to focus almost exclusively on the financial gain of the Port and its tenants.

Many of the frustrations and obstacles that concerned citizens encounter in dealing with the Port of Portland are caused by the way the Port was structured when it was created over 100 years ago. It's time to bring this dinosaur of an institution into the twenty-first century.

A group of concerned Washington County citizens drafted the following proposal for legislative change.

ORS 777.005 through 777.953
And ORS 778.005 through 778.990

To Balance and Modernize the Mission
To Make Accountable the Governance
Of The Port of Portland


Over 100 years ago, there must have been a rationale for not allowing the voters to elect the commissioners to the board of the Port of Portland. Likely, the greater good of the entire State of Oregon at the time compelled the Legislative Assembly to empower the Governor to instead nominate the board commissioners for approval by the Senate. Since then, however, all other ports throughout the state have gone to elective boards. The Port of Portland taxes us, impacts our daily lives, has grown and expanded substantially since its inception, yet the Port of Portland remains beyond the reach of voter accountability. An organizational arrogance has set in, and community impacts are not adequately addressed or respected. After 100 years, the time has come to put community accountability into the Port of Portland equation. Regionally elected governments have shown success. This bill allows voters in the tri-county Portland area to determine the majority of port commissioners: 2 each from Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington Counties. The remaining 3 may be nominated by the Governor, subject to Senate approval, and they must be residents of the State of Oregon for the decade previous to nomination.


In 1891, the Oregon Legislative Assembly passed a statute that created the Port of Portland. ORS Chapter 777 describes the organization, powers and functions, the taxing power of ports, among others. Ports are defined as "export trading corporations" and organized as "municipal corporations". The Port of Portland was initially charged with developing the port facilities and maritime capacities of the greater Portland waterways, and to benefit the surrounding communities and region. This legislation created a quasi- government corporation that was part public and supported by tax dollars. Through time, aviation was added to the mission.

The Port of Portland was also organized as a business corporation promoting commercial and industrial interests of the immediate and greater region, connecting the Willamette Valley and the Columbia's "inland empire" to the Pacific. The Port grew to become the significant facilitator of international trade and commerce for the region and the State of Oregon.


It is clear that such a quasi-governmental organization has and will continue to benefit the greater good of our communities and our region, allowing our goods affordable access to world markets while bringing affordable products to our markets.

Organizational Structure and Governance

This quasi-governmental corporation predated the conception of a regional government such as Metro. Governance of the Port was defined by ORS and managed by the Governor's appointees to the Port Board of Commissioners. Two commissioners each were to reside in Multnomah County, Clackamas County, and Washington County. The other three could come from elsewhere, but had to be residents of the State of Oregon. The Governor recommends appointees to the Senate for confirmation. Terms are 4 years. The CEO of the Port is hired by the Board of Commissioners and serves the Board, performing duties under supervision of the Board. The CEO can be removed by a majority of the Board of Commissioners.

This governance has been amended through time as Port districts have been added and responsibilities broadened. However, now and after 100 years, the Port of Portland continues to have a non-elected Board of Commissioners. Through time, the other ports throughout Oregon have become elective. Other major ports (Port of Seattle, for example) are elective.

Emerging Conflicts

  1. Have the Port of Portland's activities created conflicts with surrounding communities? YES
  2. Is the century old structure and governance consonant with our democratic values of today? NO
  3. Do port commissioners exhibit any standard of stewardship or observable communication with the counties from which they come? NO
  4. Are there effective and representative methods of communicating concerns with the Port of Portland? NO
  5. Does the Port of Portland make decisions impacting one county while making that decision in isolation and near secrecy? YES
  6. Does the Port of Portland enter into financial decisions without taking into account impact to community livability? YES

Taxation without Representation

Look at your recent tax statement. The Port of Portland tax is among those listed, yet it is the only entity receiving your tax dollar for which you have no direct vote. You do vote for Educational Service Districts, Water Districts, Fire Districts, school districts, county governments, regional governments, and special recreation districts. The Port of Portland continues to operate within a historic statute that lacks democratic sense in today's context.

No Representation of Community Interest

When the Legislative Assembly created the Port of Portland, they did not create direct representation. They directed the governor to appoint the Port commissioners. What was the original intent of having two commissioners come from the three metro counties within the Port of Portland's jurisdiction? This must have been a method of assuring representation to the respective counties and related communities. Yet over 100 years have passed and now little, if any, communication links current commissioners to the respective communities they supposedly represent. Most citizens are unaware of these historic stipulations. Individuals with very little historic connection to communities might be appointed, and they do not report back to those communities in any observable way. It is only recently that the Port commissioners met in Hillsboro, under pressure, for the first time ever.

The Port of Portland Creates Negative Impacts on Livability, Health, Safety, and Security

The Port of Portland's mission can and does come into direct conflict with communities and residents within its jurisdiction. ORS 778.015 states,

The object, purpose, and occupation of the Port of Portland shall be to promote the maritime, shipping, aviation, commercial and industrial interests of the port as by law specifically authorized.

  • The Port of Portland generates pollution of our waterways as an outgrowth of its activities.
  • The Port of Portland, in promoting aviation interests, facilitates aviation noise that brings conflict to surrounding communities.
  • The Port of Portland promotes air traffic while lacking sufficient equipment to track those flights over our communities. Since much of the Tualatin Valley basin is beyond their vision, this poses a significant security risk.

The Port of Portland lacks accountability to the electoral and taxpaying public. Through this disconnect, the Port of Portland has evolved a culture of hubris, moving beyond the reach of citizens and communities. The director has only to point to their legal mission to defend their activities that come into conflict with surrounding communities and environments. All avenues of remedy are stymied. Spin management is the primary response.

Example # 1

In 1996, the Port of Portland Board of Commissioners met in downtown Portland and voted in support of three 10-year leases with Hillsboro Aviation. The renewal clauses would allow the operator to extend for 10 years, and 10 years beyond that. Within several years of the 1996 contract, Hillsboro Aviation was well on its way to becoming the nation's second largest helicopter training operation in the United States with many international students being trained. Their fixed wing flight training activities also generate significant noise, pollution, safety, and security risks.

This contract was undertaken without any noise assessment or environmental impact study. The contract was undertaken without any explicit community notification or outreach. The Port of Portland profits from the lease contract that produces many decibels of noise daily over residences and communities, both urban and rural. The director refused any apology here and pointed to the statutory mission as excusing the Port from sensitivity to community livability issues.

After years of continual community complaint about the helicopter and fixed wing training noise, Hillsboro Aviation was able to exercise its right to extend the leases for an additional 10 years. The Port of Portland did not convene any public meeting to review the contract renewal or the operator's impacts to surrounding residents and communities. Again this was undertaken in downtown Portland, and never showed up on their public agenda.

The Port of Portland responds to criticism from the community with the "we are legally bound to the contract," or "aviation noise is the sole prerogative of the Federal Aviation Administration." The Port of Portland unilaterally foisted 30 years of flight training noise onto Hillsboro area residents and surrounding communities. While the Port of Portland profits from these leases, residents suffer property devaluation and have their health and safety jeopardized. Try and make a complaint about aviation noise by calling their Port of Portland's noise hotline. You will soon discover the ultimate in "runaround." All avenues of solution are stymied.

Example # 2

Public involvement and input at the Hillsboro Airport were lacking altogether until 2006, when the Port of Portland created HAIR, the Hillsboro Airport Issues Roundtable. The year previous, the Washington County Noise Control Task Force noted the lack of any community involvement in airport activities and recommended the creation of a citizen noise advisory committee. Instead, the Port of Portland created a "roundtable" that is safely protected by sufficient aviation and commercial interests, outflanking any real citizen impact. This shows the Port of Portland to be more interested in "spinning" their public image than in seriously engaging citizens about health, safety and livability issues.

Example # 3

PDX ground run-up testing was occurring outside of any noise dampening facility. The PDX Citizen Noise Advisory Committee zeroed in on this noise source and noted that this was subject to local noise ordinance and management. The Port of Portland was forced by this citizen body to develop funds to build a run-up testing facility that mitigates the resulting noise by 90 %. By its structuring of the Hillsboro Airport Issues Roundtable, the Port assured that Hillsboro Airport is not subject to the pressure of a citizen-based noise advisory committee.

Example # 4

Bill Wyatt, CEO of the Port of Portland has been quoted as stating that "Aviation Noise is the Sound of Commerce." That illustrates a major point of conflict of interest between the Port of Portland and the taxed public. The Port of Portland's current mission is pure commerce, and it does not have to attend to the livability issues of its taxed public. The owner/operator of Hillsboro Aviation had a bumper sticker that read "I Love Aviation Noise." It has become obvious that there is good money in aviation noise.

Revised Legislation

After over 100 years, it is now time to bring balance and modernization to the mission of the Port of Portland. Amend the Oregon Revised Statute to make the mission of The Port of Portland read:

The object, purpose, and occupation of the Port of Portland shall be to promote the maritime, shipping, aviation, commercial and industrial interests of the region as by law specified, while giving equal consideration to livability including noise, environment, safety, security, and health impacts on surrounding communities.

After over 100 years, it is now time to bring democratic value and practice to the governance of the Port of Portland. The culture of hubris will melt and fall and give wing to accountability and stewardship.

The statute should be amended to replace appointment of commissioners by the governor with a vote of the people.

Stop Aviation Noise Intrusions
File Complaints, Demand Action

Miki Barnes, LCSW
President, Oregon Aviation Watch
August 20, 2015

Oregon's “Pass the Buck” Aviation Noise Complaint Reporting Process Reflects an Entrenched System of Institutionalized Exploitation, Bullying and Lack of Civility

Oregon Aviation Watch believes that aircraft noise is a significant source of pollution in Oregon, especially due to the enormous amount of flight training that occurs in Washington County and neighboring jurisdictions.

As discussed in this posting, the response to valid community concerns regarding aviation noise pollution is routinely deflected, ignored and minimized in an effort to promote aviation interests over the greater good.

In an attempt to address the environmental degradation and loss of livability in conjunction with the diminished ability of area residents to enjoy their properties, Oregon Aviation Watch has developed a noise complaint form which will be sent to the government agencies, municipalities and educational institutions that are either causing the problem and/or those that are neglecting their responsibility to correct it.

You can access the Oregon Aviation Watch complaint form at this link:

Complaints logged on this form will automatically be sent to Oregon Aviation Watch and the following recipients.

  • Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ)
  • Washington County Commissioners
  • Hillsboro Mayor and City Councilors
  • FAA Hillsboro Flight Standards Office
  • Portland Community College - President
  • Portland Community College Rock Creek - President
  • Port of Portland Noise Management Office

Oregon Aviation Watch also recommends filing complaints with Governor Kate Brown at 503-378-4582. In Oregon the governor bears responsibility for appointing members to the boards of the Port of Portland Commission and the Department of Aviation, both of which are responsible for promoting aviation interests while doing nothing to effectively monitor or reduce aviation noise.

Oregon Aviation Watch strongly urges negatively impacted residents to hold their local, state and federal legislators fully responsible for their willful negligence in addressing this serious matter. Contact information for other local, state, and federal representatives is available at File a Complaint.

Below is an explanation about the role the recipients listed on the noise complaint form have played in diminishing livability on behalf of the aviation industry.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ)

As noted by DEQ, “Reports from citizens are vital for effective enforcement of Oregon's environmental laws. You can report anything that you think is polluting land, air, or water.”[1]

According to OAR 340-035-0045

"The [Oregon Environmental Quality] Commission finds that noise pollution caused by Oregon airports threatens the public health and welfare of citizens residing in the vicinity of airports. To mitigate airport noise impacts a coordinated statewide program is desirable to ensure that effective Airport Noise Abatement Programs are developed and implemented where needed. An abatement program includes measures to prevent the creation of new noise impacts or the expansion of existing noise impacts to the extent necessary and practicable. Each abatement program will primarily focus on airport operational measures to prevent increased, and to lessen existing, noise levels. The program will also analyze the effects of aircraft noise emission regulations and land use controls;"[2]

A legal brief submitted to LUBA in 2014 by Washington County Counsel included the following statement:

"OAR 340-035-0054 does deal with airport noise (as distinguished from commercial and industrial noise), but makes clear that with respect to non-carrier airports no action is needed unless DEQ has received a complaint and been unable to resolve the situation."[3]

The foregoing quote underscores the importance of logging aircraft noise complaints with DEQ. Clearly Washington County relies on this data when making crucial decisions related to airport growth and development.

Please note, all airports in Washington County are non-carrier, general aviation airports as opposed to commercial facilities.

For the record, DEQ maintains that despite the existing laws in place in Oregon, it no longer addresses noise complaints. "Effective July 1, 1991, DEQ's Noise Control Program was terminated. The function is now performed by city, county and municipal governments."[4]

Herein lies the quandary. On the one hand Washington County relies on aviation noise complaints logged through DEQ, yet DEQ insists that "city county and other municipal governments" perform this function.

It is because of the confusing and contradictory nature of these directives that Oregon Aviation Watch strongly encourages impacted residents to contact both DEQ and their local municipalities.

Washington County Commissioners

Despite DEQ's claim that the regulation of aviation noise is performed by local municipalities, Washington County disavows all responsibility. In private correspondence to Miki Barnes, County Counsel Alan Rappleyea insists that "aircraft noise is regulated by state and federal law." He further noted that according to then Port of Portland Noise Manager, Jason Schwartz, "the FAA has jurisdiction of airspace and movement of aircraft, and preempts all regulation of airplane noise." This quote from Mr. Schwartz might prompt a reasonable person to ask why the Port of Portland maintains the pretense of managing noise at the Hillsboro Airport, particularly since the Port does not feel empowered to take definitive steps to remedy community noise concerns. In any case, his response explains the ineffectual nature of the Port noise office and why many residents, despite years of filing complaints, are still plagued by unwelcome noise intrusions.

Mr. Rappleyea also pointed out that insofar as the Hillsboro Airport is located in Hillsboro, the Washington County Charter Section 23, "specifically prohibits us from enforcing County Ordinances inside of cities."[5] This statement, however, fails to address the widespread nature of aircraft noise intrusions throughout Washington County, far beyond the boundaries of Hillsboro.

Also of note, the comment by Jason Schwartz that air traffic noise is federally preempted, does not stand up to scrutiny.

In a 5/22/01 U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decision - SeaAir NY, Inc., v. City of New York, et al (Docket No. 00-9096), SeaAir argued that City regulation of their air tour operations was preempted by federal statute. The court, however, disagreed. According to the court's findings, federal preemption does not apply to flights unless they are engaged in 'interstate air transportation.' 'Interstate air transportation' was explained as the movement of passengers, property or mail between one state and another. A sightseeing tour that begins and ends in the same place, even though it may fly over other states does not meet this criteria.

As noted earlier, all airports in Washington County are classified as general aviation rather than commercial air carrier passenger facilities. The majority of operations at the Hillsboro Airport, in particular, are on behalf of the flight training industry and as such the originate and end at the same airport. Thus federal preemption does not apply.

Earlier this spring, Washington County Commission Chair, Andy Duyck was on hand for a ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of a third runway at the Hillsboro Airport[6] - a runway that is intended to cater primarily to out of state flight training companies that recruit many of their students from outside the country. The training involves helicopters, fixed wing aircraft and jets. The for-profit aviation industry relies heavily on public handouts to subsidize airport infrastructure. The third runway, which cost approximately $17M, received funding from the FAA, Connect Oregon and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Hillsboro Mayor and City Council

  • Log complaints with Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey and members of the city council by calling 503-681-6219.
  • Email communications to the mayor and city council can be sent via
  • Contact the city's code enforcement officer by calling (503) 615-6645.

Mayor Jerry Willey also attended the Hillsboro Airport third runway ribbon cutting ceremony discussed above.[7] Though two of the noisiest flight training airports in the area - Hillsboro and Stark's Twin Oaks - are located in Hillsboro, the mayor and city council have done very little to protect area residents from the negative impacts of aviation activity.

In fact, in 2010 the City of Hillsboro joined forces with the Port of Portland in an aggressive campaign to foist airport zoning on Hillsboro residents living within 6,000 feet of the airport. If that zoning had been enacted, property owners seeking land use approval would have been forced to sign easements giving the Port the right to subject these properties to noise, vibrations, fumes, dust, and fuel particle emissions associated with normal aircraft activity.[8]

In response to a citizen challenge, the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) concluded that:

"...granting the Port an easement to physically invade private property would do nothing to reduce conflicts between the airport and surrounding land uses. The same conflicts (noise, etc,) would exist to the exact same degree, with or without the easement. The only arguable effect of requiring property owners to grant such an easement as a requirement of land use approval is to make it more difficult for property owners to advance an inverse condemnation or other legal action against the Port, based on trespass or the externalized impacts of the airport operations on surrounding uses. We think it highly doubtful that taking private property for that purpose constitutes a legitimate government objective."[9]

For this reason and others, the Land Use Board of Appeals found this zoning to be in violation of both the U.S. and State of Oregon constitutions and ultimately issued a complete reversal of the airport zoning ordinance.

Hillsboro City Code 6.24.010 addresses "Unnecessary Noise." According to the code, "It is unlawful for any person to make, assist in making, allow or perpetuate the continuance of any unauthorized, disturbing or unnecessary noise." Certainly aircraft noise, particularly flight training activity, is disturbing to many residents. Yet the city fails to address this legitimate community concern based on their misleading federal preemption argument. Please refer to the previous Washington County Commissioners section for information on preemption.

Hillsboro City Code Section 6.24.030 which addresses noise limits reads as follows:

Unless authorized by the manager, it is unlawful for any person to produce or allow to be produced, with or from a sound-producing source, sound that exceeds:

1. 50 decibels A-weighting (dBA) at any time between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. the following day, or
2. 60 dBA at any time between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.; or
B. Is plainly audible at any time between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. the following day:
  1.Within a noise-sensitive building which is not the source of sound, or
  2. On a public right-of-way from a distance of at least 100 feet from the source of the sound.

Oregon Aviation Watch believes these same limitations should apply to aircraft.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

  • Log complaints at 503-615-3200 or 800-847-3806.
  • The mailing address for the FAA Flight Standards Office is 3180 NW 229th Ave., Hillsboro, OR 97124.
  • The email address for the FAA Noise Ombudsman is

Washington County Counsel Alan Rappleyea stated that the county refers aircraft noise complaints to the FAA at the address and phone numbers listed above.[10] However, during a 7/2/15 phone conversation, a spokesperson for the FAA Flight Standards stated "We don't regulate noise. Typically that is a county matter. This office does not handle noise complaints." He also suggested contacting the air traffic control tower at the Hillsboro Airport to determine what role it might play in managing noise.

In response to a query about the air traffic control tower's role in addressing noise complaints, the Port of Portland Community Affairs Tour and Outreach manager, Brooke Berglund stated, "Although they may field some calls, they typically refer callers to the Port Noise Line and FSDO [Flight Standards District Office] depending on the situation." [11]

But as noted above, the Port Noise Office contends that aircraft noise is federally preempted. Its sole role in regards to Hillsboro Airport noise intrusions is to log complaints. It does nothing to mitigate the noise nor does it express any intention of doing so.

Portland Community College (PCC)

  • Log complaints with the current interim PCC President, Sylvia Kelley at 971-722-4335. Her email address is
  • Log complaints with the President of PCC Rock Creek, Sandra Fowler Hill at 971-722-6232 or via email at

PCC's Rock Creek taxpayer-funded Aviation Science program encourages flight training. Many of the student pilots are required to complete 270 hours of fixed wing or helicopter flight hours which translates into at least 11 days of noise per pilot. PCC student pilots contract with the Hillsboro Aero Academy formerly Hillsboro Aviation for the flight training portion of their coursework. Much of the training requires repetitive "touch and go" maneuvers below 2000 feet within 4 to 5 miles of the airport. Additional practice hours are accrued by flying over surrounding rural and woodland properties with a low ambient noise level. Needless to say this leads to an enormous amount of noise and pollution. Calls to PCC to discuss these negative impacts prompted the following response from then Rock Creek Interim Campus President, Birgitte Ryslinge:

"PCC has no independent 'regulatory authority' in either aviation fuels or noise. Therefore your concerns would be more appropriately directed to those agencies that do have that authority. In the case of aviation fuels, that likely would be the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In the case of your concern about noise, we suggest that be initially addressed with the City of Hillsboro. There may also be State and Federal regulations regarding noise from aviation activities."[12]

She then went on to proclaim PCC Rock Creek's commitment to providing workforce training. "We are called upon to respond to the employment needs of our communities, region and state."[13] What she doesn't mention is that public dollars are subsidizing workforce flight training on behalf of foreign students. Nor does she express any concern about the negative impact PCC's flight training programs are having on the community.

The current PCC Rock Creek Campus President, Sandra Fowler-Hill also maintains that,

"PCC has no independent 'regulatory authority' in either aviation fuels or noise. Your concerns should be directed to those agencies that may have that authority, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Aviation Administration, and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality."[14]

A 6/4/13 Portland Tribune article reported that, "Hillsboro Aviation's [now Hillsboro Aero Academy's] Troutdale facility was opened at the urging of the Portland Community College to help grow their aviation flight program...Each flight school offers two- and four-year college degree programs through Portland Community College and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, respectively." [15] Clearly PCC is playing an aggressive role in using public educational dollars on behalf of the for-profit aviation sector. It is also worth noting that in recent years PCC tried to foist its aviation business agenda on Columbia County by establishing a branch adjacent to the Scappoose Airpark but was thwarted by residents who initiated a LUBA challenge. [15]

The Tribune article referenced above explained that much of the PCC flight training at the Troutdale Airport involves Chinese students. Given China's history, it is reasonable to surmise that many of these students, upon returning to their native country, will join the military or police force, thereby using their skills to suppress democracy and free speech in China and to continue the brutal genocidal assault perpetrated by their government against the Tibetan people. That PCC is investing public money earmarked for education to promote the Chinese authoritarian agenda is morally repugnant. Why should American taxpayers forfeit their quality of life and foot the bill for workforce development on behalf of foreign pilots?

This entire arrangement deserves open debate and dialogue, not closed door deals between government agencies and educational institutions that use public funding to promote private business schemes while exhibiting a complete disdain for democracy both here and abroad. PCC receives tax dollars approved by the state legislature as well as county property taxes. In addition to publicly funded infrastructure, federal resources pay to manage and maintain the air traffic control towers and staff at both the Hillsboro and Troutdale airports.

Sadly, PCC's mission does not include being responsive to the quality of life and environmental concerns of community residents whose livability is degraded by the flight training program. Indeed, it increasingly appears that PCC's aviation program is more of a private business than an educational facility deserving of public support.

Port of Portland Noise Office

Part of the mission of the Port of Portland is to promote aviation activity. This is done at the expense of the environment and the rights of others to the enjoyment of their property. The Port is essentially a corporate entity that profits from the aviation industries, public education institutions, and users that are responsible for creating and exacerbating the noise problem. As such it has a vested interest in ignoring and marginalizing those who file complaints about noise. In fact, the Port is intent on accessing public money to promote and subsidize the private for-profit aviation businesses that lease their facilities. As such its role in monitoring and mitigating noise poses a major conflict of interest.

Due to these inherent conflicts, the Port is not a reliable source of information on the widespread and worsening issue of aviation noise. In any case, the Port has a well documented history of completely failing to abate aviation noise associated with the Hillsboro Airport (HIO).

As noted earlier, the Port Noise Office routinely disavows all responsibility for mitigating noise at the Hillsboro Airport. Its primary purpose is to log complaints while pretending to run a credible, functioning noise abatement program.


Who knew that filing a noise complaint and seeking remediation for the frequent aviation noise intrusions in Washington County would be this complicated?

The following is the current noise reporting process encountered by area residents.

  • The Port of Portland Noise Management Office insists that the FAA is responsible for noise but maintains that the regulation of airport noise is preempted by federal law. Noise Office staff claim that this office is not empowered to address Hillsboro Airport noise concerns. All it does is log complaints.
  • The FAA denies responsibility for noise complaints and suggests contacting the Port Noise Management Office.
  • Washington County maintains that DEQ is responsible for noise complaints and also suggests contacting the Hillsboro FAA Flight Standards office. However, the Flight Standards office insists that it is not responsible for noise.
  • DEQ, while acknowledging that there are existing laws in place, says that it doesn't enforce them because the legislature defunded the noise program in 1991. DEQ further claims that cities, counties and other municipalities are charged with the task of addressing aviation noise, yet both the City of Hillsboro and Washington County deny all responsibility.
  • According to City of Hillsboro noise code #6.24.050 (D.)[17], sounds regulated by federal law including sounds caused by aircraft are exempt from city noise code enforcement. As noted earlier, this is misleading. Since flight training does not fall within the interstate commerce transportation clause, the city can enforce their noise code requirements but have chosen not to. This short sighted decision does not necessarily absolve them of legal responsibility in this regard.
  • PCC, without citizen input, established an aviation sciences program that involves subjecting area residents to enormous amounts of noise and pollution, but like the rest of their counterparts in this exploitative ruse, denies all responsibility for addressing the livability and environmental concerns of impacted communities. Even more insidiously, PCC is using public money earmarked for education to promote these private business schemes. A significant portion of the training is designed to provide workforce training on behalf the authoritarian regime of the People's Republic of China and other foreign nations.

This convoluted mess of a bureaucratic system seems intentionally designed to obfuscate and minimize community concerns. While area residents become increasingly frustrated trying to maneuver their way through this maze of dead ends, Oregon's local, state and federal elected representatives have completely abdicated responsibility to address the valid interests of the greater good. This is unacceptable!

Oregon Aviation Watch strongly urges impacted residents to file noise complaints with all the above mentioned agencies, educational institutions, and government representatives.

Freedom from air traffic noise, as well as peace and quiet in our homes, neighborhoods, and recreational areas should be recognized as an inherent right, not a privilege. Government supported, corporate run aviation businesses whose rapacious appetite for accruing profits while degrading the livability and quality of life of others should not be allowed to usurp these rights.


[1] How to Make an Environmental Complaint at DEQ. Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Available on-line at

[2] Noise Control Regulations. Division 35. Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Available on-line at

[3] Saito-Moore, Jacquilyn (Office of Washington County Counsel) and Noren, David (Attorney for Intervenor Respondent). Oregon Aviation Watch and Washington County Citizen Action Network v. Washington County and Robert D. Jossy. LUBA No. 2013-111. (2/20/14).

[4] How to Make an Environmental Complaint at DEQ. Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Available on-line at

[5] Letter from Washington County Counsel, Alan Rappleyea, to Miki Barnes Re: Hillsboro Airport Noise Issues. (9/15/14).

[6] Hillsboro Airport Opens New Parallel Runway. Port of Portland. (4/30/15). Available on-line at

[7] Ibid.

[8] LUBA No. 2010-011 Final Opinion and Order. Barnes, Michelle v. the City of Hillsboro and the Port of Portland.. Pg. 3. Available on-line at

[9] Ibid. Pg. 15-16.

[10] Letter from Washington County Counsel, Alan Rappleyea, to Miki Barnes Re: Hillsboro Airport Noise Issues. (9/15/14).

[11] Email response from Brooke Berglund to Miki Barnes. (8/4/15).

[12] Letter from PCC Rock Creek Interim Campus President, Bridgette Ryslinge, to Miki Barnes. (9/26/13).

[13] Ibid.

[14] Letter from PCC Rock Creek Campus President, Sandra Fowler-Hill, to Miki Barnes. (8/7/14).

[15] Hachman, Cari, Troutdale Flight School is International Cockpit for Pilots. Portland Tribune. (6/4/13). Available on-line at

[16] Vaughn, Courtney. Lingering UGB Decision in Scappoose Stifles Growth Plans. Portland Tribune. (7/25/14). Available on-line at (7/25/14).

[17] Hillsboro, Oregon County Code. Chapter 6: Health and Welfare. Subchapter 6.24 Noise. Available on-line at

Long Beach Aviation Noise Violation Fines Fund Library and Nonprofits

August 11, 2015

Below is a link to a 7/29/15 KPCC 89.3 report by Sharon McNary on how the city of Long Beach, California fines airlines and cargo haulers for violating the city's noise code.

Per the article,

“When the city of Long Beach throws the book at airlines that violate its noise limits, the hefty fines end up buying books for city libraries and funding other charitable activities.

The latest airline to face a fine is Michigan-based cargo hauler Kalitta Charters. This week it agreed to pay $54,000 to settle 13 criminal noise complaints.

Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert says the money will go to the Long Beach Community Foundation. ‘They've told me they intend to spend the money to benefit the people who live in the flight path,’ Haubert said.

Four airlines have been fined for violating the Long Beach noise ordinance since 2003. JetBlue has paid the most more than $4 million since 2003. That money goes to the nonprofit Long Beach Public Library Foundation.”

To view the full report click on Long Beach Airport noise violations fund library and local nonprofits.

Oregon Air National Guard Proposing to Expand F-15 Training

July 29, 2015

Follow this link to an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on a proposal submitted by the Oregon Air National Guard (ANG) to expand military airspace training areas over Oregon. According to the Executive Summary, radar improvements, avionic upgrades and other changes triggered the need for additional F-15 training airspace. The proposal noted that one of reasons ANG is seeking additional airspace is to accommodate low-altitude training.

A change of this magnitude will involve expanding and modifying airspace over more than 1/3 of Oregon's 36 counties. In addition, residents of Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas Counties in Oregon and Clark County in Washington state are already negatively impacted by the loud, disruptive F-15 training missions flying in and out of the Portland International Airport (PDX).

Due to Pacific coast storms and inclement weather patterns, the Oregon National Guard is recommending an increase in training inland over Clatsop, Tillamook, Yamhill, Polk, and Lincoln counties. A change of this nature would have a direct impact on residents of Astoria and other coastal communities. A map included on page ES-4 of the Executive Summary illustrates the areas where additional training would take place.

If the proposal is approved, 7 counties in Central Oregon - Sherman, Gilliam, Morrow, Grant, Wheeler, Jefferson, and Wasco - will be impacted by the establishment of a new military training site. In addition Harney County in Eastern, Oregon will also experience increased military operations. The widespread nature of this change is also expected to affect counties in neighboring states - Pacific County in Washington and Humbolt and Wasco counties in Nevada.

The Executive Summary and draft EIS are available at

Damaging Impact of Noise from Navy Warplanes on Human Health

July 29, 2015

Below is an excerpt from a 7/27/15 Truthout report by Dahl Jamail entitled Sounds of War: Navy Warplanes Producing Deadly Noise Around U.S. Bases. The noise from these aircraft has prompted Washington residents to seek a legal injunction prohibiting these flights over their homes and neighborhoods.

An excerpt from the article reads as follows:

In communities nearby the Navy airfields, noise levels from the Navy's E18 'Growler' warplanes have been recorded that regularly reach 130 decibels, and shockingly, even average 81 decibels inside residential homes.

The human health impacts from these levels of chronic jet noise include hearing loss, immune toxicity, insomnia, stroke, heart attacks and even death.

'The first time I heard the Growlers, in August 2012, they started flying over my house, and I developed a cardiac arrhythmia on the spot and had to go to the ER,' retired lawyer Ken Pickard, who lives on Whidbey Island, told Truthout.

To access the article in full click on this link:

Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Aircraft Endanger Public Health and Welfare

July 23, 2015

On June 10, 2015, Earthjustice, a non-profit environmental law firm, issued an announcement on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) finding that greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft endanger the public health and welfare of current and future generations. Per Earthjustice, "The EPA's Endangerment Finding confirms that aircraft are a significant source of climate pollution, emitting approximately 700 million metric tonnes per year. This makes global aviation, if it were equivalent to a country, the 7th largest global emitter, just below Germany and more than Korea and Canada."[1]

As noted by one of the petitioners, Friends of the Earth,

"Aviation accounts for about 11 percent of carbon dioxide pollution from the U.S. transportation sector and is one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon pollution, rising three to five percent a year. Carbon emissions from global aviation will quadruple by mid-century without action."[2]

After an extensive review of the scientific literature on the effects of global warming the EPA concluded that "children will be disproportionately impacted by climate change..Impacts to children are expected from heat waves, air pollution, infectious and waterborne illnesses, and mental health effects resulting from extreme weather events. In addition, the assessments find that climate change will influence production of pollen that affects asthma and other allergic respiratory diseases, to which children are among those especially susceptible."[3]

The EPA also identified climate change as an 'environmental justice' issue which disproportionately impacts other vulnerable groups including elderly, poor, and low-income populations as well as "some populations defined jointly by ethnic/racial characteristics and geographic location."[4]

Though thankful for the endangerment finding, the petitioners expressed disappointment in the EPA's decision to hand off responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the agency supposedly responsible since 1997 for reducing greenhouse gases from aircraft.

According to a press release from the Center for Biological Diversity:

"In the last 18 years, the ICAO has not adopted any measure to curb aircraft-induced global warming. The organization has rejected, in turn, efficiency standards, fuel taxes, emissions charges and global emissions trading. Despite the ICAO's failure to act, the EPA intends to wait to see if the ICAO will finally propose emission standards in 2016."[5]

Members of the public have until 8/31/15 to submit formal comments on the EPA's Proposed Finding That Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Aircraft Cause or Contribute to Air Pollution That May Reasonably Be Anticipated to Endanger Public Health and Welfare and Advance Notice of Public Rulemaking. (Federal Register Docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2014-0828). Additional information on this matter is available at the US Federal Register website.


[1] EPA: Carbon Pollution Endangers Public Health, Must Be Controlled. Earthjustice website. (6/10/15).

[2] Conservation Groups Launch Legal Challenge to Cut Carbon Pollution from Aircraft. Friends of the Earth website. (8/5/14).

[3] Proposed Finding That Greenhouse Gas Emissions >From Aircraft Cause or Contribute to Air Pollution That May Reasonably Be Anticipated To Endanger Public Health and Welfare and Advance Notice of Proposal Rulemaking: A Proposed Rule by the Environmental Protection Agency. Federal Register Docket No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2014-0828. (7/1/15).

[4] Ibid.

[5] EPA Finds Airplane Pollution Endangers Climate, Fails to Curb Emissions. Center for Biological Diversity. (6/5/15).

Related articles on this topic:

Holthaus. Eric. Just Plane Wrong: Global aviation is the fastest-growing cause of climate change. And the EPA might let it off the hook. Slate. (6/4/15).

McDonnell, Tim. Here's Why Obama Is Cracking Down on Airplane Pollution: On a plane? Enjoy the view of the planet you're killing! Mother Jones. (6/5/15).

Protestors Oppose London's Heathrow Airport Expansion

July 20, 2015

Below is an excerpt from a 7/13/15 EcoWatch article on actions by the group Plane Stupid, in opposition to a third runway at the Heathrow Airport.

Plane Stupid provided the following reasons for protesting this expansion:

  • We cannot meet our climate change targets and build new runways at the same time. It's a choice between the two. This should be very simple to understand.
  • We already fly more than any other country per head.
  • Nine of the ten most popular destinations out of Heathrow are short-haul including to places such as Manchester and Paris. There are already very good existing rail alternatives that we should be using instead.
  • 15 percent of the UK population take 70 percent of the flights. Building new runways will only benefit rich frequent flyers who are burning the planet for unnecessary leisure flights.
  • Airport expansion will have terrible implications for noise pollution and air pollution.
  • Local communities face being wiped off the map entirely by a third runway at Heathrow.
  • Aviation gets huge tax subsidies and pays no VAT. Why are we propping up an industry which is highly damaging to the environment at the exact time we need to be reducing our carbon emissions?
  • The huge advertising budgets of the aviation industry have tricked the public into believing we face an airport capacity crisis. Additionally, the employment benefits of expansion have been overplayed. Claims that airport expansion will create thousands of new jobs are based on unreliable statistics. Airport expansion actually results in more UK tourists going abroad, which creates a 'tourism deficit.'

To access the full report click on the following link - 13 Flights Cancelled, 9 People Arrested as Climate Activists Protest Runway Expansion

LA City Council Member Advocates For Closure of Santa Monica Airport

July 17, 2015

Los Angeles City Council member Michael Bonin recently launched a petition calling for the closure of the Santa Monica Airport (SMO), a general aviation facility that logs around 100,000 annual operations, primarily private jets and propeller flight training aircraft. The City of Santa Monica, which owns and operates the airport, prohibits helicopter training at this facility. The noise, pollution, and safety risks associated with this airport have been a source of conflict and controversy for decades. Many airport neighbors and other negatively impacted residents would like would like to transform the airport property into a public park.

As stated in the petition:

“SMO today is an airport that is out of its time period, and completely incompatible with the residential neighborhoods that have grown around its borders.”

Click here To access the Federal Aviation Administration: Put Neighborhoods First petition.

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