Please see this warning from the Los Angeles Police Department, sent to the California Association of Realtors. Discussion on helifreak here. More background and discussion here. I'll be talking to the NYT about this tomorrow.
Short form: Amateur UAV use within the usual FAA guidelines (under 400ft, within visual line-of-sight, away from built-up-areas) is allowed, as always. But commercial use requires a COA, which you're not going to get. So there's nothing new here, but it's a reminder that the guidelines will be enforced.
LAPD Warning Against Hiring Unmanned Aircraft Operators for Aerial Photos
Los Angeles authorities have asked C.A.R. to communicate this warning to REALTORS® who hire unmanned aircraft operators to take aerial photographs for marketing high-end properties. Using these devices (also known as drones) for flight in the air with no onboard pilot may violate, among other things, the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) policy on unmanned aircrafts, and Los Angeles's local ordinance requiring permits for filming commercial motion pictures and still photographs.
The Los Angeles Police Department's (LAPD) investigation has apparently revealed that aerial photos where unmanned aircraft were observed have appeared on certain real estate sales websites. According to FilmL.A., the LAPD Air Division has issued this warning as it intends to prosecute violators in the near future. FilmL.A. is a public benefit company created by the City and County of Los Angeles to manage film permit activity and related issues.
Under the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)'s current policy, no one can operate an unmanned aircraft in the National Airspace System without specific authority. Operators who wish to fly an unmanned aircraft for civil use must obtain an FAA experimental airworthiness certificate, which will not be issued to an unmanned aircraft used for compensation or hire. Although the FAA allows hobbyists to fly model airplanes for recreational purposes under specific guidelines, that authority does not extend to operators flying unmanned aircraft for business purposes. More information is available from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Notice on Unmanned Aircraft Operations and the FAA's policy.