Councilmember Joel Navarro is hosting a community meeting to talk about where drones can take off and land in city parks to get opinions on a proposed new drone ordinance.
Drones are regulated by the FAA and the State of Arizona, but cities may regulate the use of drones within city parks. A Tempe City Council working group is proposing to amend an existing ordinance to prohibit drone take-offs and landings within preserves and within those city parks north of Rio Salado Parkway. This group is also developing police enforcement guidance regarding improper drone use.
“Drones are much more popular and because our community is so close to Sky Harbor and to very populated parks, we want to make sure we do everything we can to keep people safe,” Councilmember Navarro said.
Along with the increase in recreational use, concerns have developed over reckless flights and the use of drones to videotape on private property.
On their webpage, the Phoenix-area Drone User Group gives some additional background information, explaining that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) governs the use and operations of drones throughout U.S. airspace. FAA guidelines dictate regulations for commercial and recreational operators and require owners of small unmanned aircraft weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds (approx. 25 kilograms) to register their drones.
A recent state law, SB 1449, limits the extent to which cities may regulate drones beyond the FAA regulations. One area that may be regulated by cities is determining in which city parks drone take-offs and landings should be allowed. This potential prohibition does not, however, preclude drones from being flown through these parks and preserves. SB 1449 also includes criminal penalties for certain reckless operation of drones.
As currently proposed, the ordinance would prohibit drone take-offs and landings within preserves and within those city parks north of Rio Salado Parkway. Council member Joel Navarro invites anyone interested in the discussion to attend a community meeting to discuss the current and proposed drone regulations by the FAA, State, and the City of Tempe.
The meeting takes place at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 17 at the Business Resource and Innovation Center inside the Tempe Public Library, 3500 S. Rural Rd. If you cannot attend the meeting, you may also provide feedback at www.tempe.gov/forum.