My faith in our political process in Berkeley is restored. The proposal to make the city a "No Drone Zone" was rejected. Among other things, wise minds reminded the council that cities don't control their own airspace - the FAA does.

From Berkeleyside:

At its meeting last night, the Berkeley City Council rejected a recommendation from the Peace and Justice Commission to establish... in the city. Instead, the council referred the issue to three commissions — the Peace and Justice Commission, the Police Review Commission, and Disaster and Fire Safety Commssion — with guidelines for public safety agencies’ use of drones to be reviewed at a future council workshop.

During public comment more than a dozen people spoke in favor of the Peace and Justice Commission proposal, which would have banned all drones except for hobbyist use (and those would have been restricted to drones without cameras).

Councilmembers, however, argued that there could be some beneficial uses for drones.

Councilman Jesse Arreguín agreed that the technology could potentially infringe on privacy rights, and said policies to prevent that were needed. But he suggested that drones could be valuable for public safety in the event of disasters, searching for missing persons, rescue operations, and when police are in pursuit of a known suspect.

“Drones have been used for very bad purposes, but drones can serve a purpose,” agreed Councilman Laurie Capitelli.

“Berkeley doesn’t have jurisdiction over its airspace and we can’t enforce it unless we buy Patriot missiles to shoot things down,” said Councilman Gordon Wozniak, who also pointed out the potential beneficial uses of drones.

Councilman Max Anderson said it was important to have clear guidelines developed for drone use.

“Unless we are restrictive and proscriptive about how they are going to be used, we are going to be screwed,” he said.

The Council also voted to send a letter to the Alameda Board of Supervisors requesting they delay any purchase of a drone until Berkeley’s deliberative process was over.

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Comment by R. D. Starwalt on December 19, 2012 at 6:50pm

It would been interesting to know if the definition of a drone had been established before they considered a ruling.

The camera stipulation was probably for privacy issues but totally unnecessary because privacy laws apply in the current situation.


Comment by Tony Heaton on December 19, 2012 at 7:39pm

Berkeley passing up the chance to ban something?  They must be trying to kill us all with shock.

Comment by george on December 19, 2012 at 7:50pm

Even that kangaroo supreme court ruled that government only has the right to search with the "natural senses" in some 5-4 decision. Ofcoarse when has government or law enforcement ever followed laws? Please for that matter recite a single government agency that follows "laws".

Comment by Alan Jump on December 19, 2012 at 7:54pm

Lighten up, George. We're here to talk about UAVs, not politics.

Comment by Maxime Carrier on December 19, 2012 at 8:56pm

Politic and UAVs are precisely the subject of this post ....

Comment by Tony Heaton on December 20, 2012 at 10:50am

Alan,  if we ignore the politics of UAV's, we could find ourselves without access to UAV's.  Also, the person who starts a thread decides, with the content, what the thread is about.  Visitors can either comment or not.  If you don't like the contents of a thread, don't comment on it.  If you choose to comment, don't try to say the thread is not about what it is about.

Comment by Marty LaBelle on December 21, 2012 at 11:40am

This is actually a more complicated issue. On one hand, the FAA has traditionally controlled the national airspace. On the other hand, the FAA is horribly slow to empower the American UAS entrepreneurs. Generally when the federal gov't is doing something badly, it is because it has over stepped their bounds and the issue should be decided locally. There is a point of diminishing return to centralized control. Perhaps it is time to break up the FAA in a similar fashion to AT&T.

I don't really know the answer here because the physics involves complicates the politics. However members of this community far more experienced than me should voice their informed opinions, if they don't we be under the rules written by folks with no idea of what is possible in this blossoming industry.


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