The drone hobby as a whole often gets a bad wrap. Unfortunately, while not every drone pilot is negligent or irresponsible, it is usually a few bad eggs that spoil the fun for everyone. This is incredibly relevant to what’s happening in West Hollywood, a city of LA County in sunny Southern California.
After several drone related incidents, including a drone taking out a power line and knocking out power for over 700 residents, the West Hollywood city council has passed an ordinance requiring drone operators to get a city-based permit in order to fly within the city limits. The ordinance also prohibits pilots from taking photo, video, or audio footage of any person or private property that “has a reasonable expectation of privacy”.
All of these rules are to be applied on top of existing FAA registration requirements and flight regulations, making West Hollywood one of the strictest cities in Los Angeles county to fly your drone in. The new city ordinance also prohibits flights that may interfere with emergency response units in any way, including firefighting and policy activity. Violation of the ordinance will be considered a misdemeanor, but can potentially be compounded with federal FAA fines or penalties if the drone pilot’s violations carry over into violations of federal regulations.
What’s happening in West Hollywood is likely just the beginning of a trend we will see in many other large cities across the country. Unfortunately, as drone flying becomes more popular, we will see more amateur pilots taking to the skies without being properly informed on rules and regulations for their area. Use the story of West Hollywood as a warning lesson and always double check before you fly. Last thing you want is for you to end up with a few hundred or thousand dollars in fines because you didn’t realize your little quadcopter could cause so much trouble.
As always, fly safe and fly smart. Enjoy your time in the sky.