Drones may be at the top of many holiday wish lists this year, but rules governing their recreational use in Gilroy are still being determined.
On Nov. 21, the City Council directed staff to prepare an ordinance regulating drones—or unmanned aerial vehicles, as they are officially called, after hearing examples of rules applied in other California cities. Currently, the only statewide laws apply to drone usage around the scene of an emergency.
The Gilroy Police Department has received calls from residents about drones invading people’s privacy and flying at night or during early morning hours, causing disruptions. An ordinance would give police an enforcement mechanism to take action and issue citations when they receive complaints.
GPD Captain Kurt Svardal told the council the department looked at Los Angeles, Santa Clara and Ripon to see if any of their ordinances could apply to Gilroy.
The staff report recommended the city apply some of the rules from Los Angeles, declaring it a “middle of the road approach.”
A Dispatch poll found that about half of respondents wanted to ban drones outright, but the police and City Council did not feel this was necessary.
“We are not proposing an all-out ban,” said Mayor-elect Roland Velasco. “We are trying to come up with a compromise that allows hobbyists to get out there, but also protects the privacy of neighborhood residents in the area.”
The council suggested the ordinance include rules governing time of flight—sunup to sundown; and that the drone must remain within the line of sight of the operator. It would also include exemptions for public safety uses by law enforcement or other emergency responders.
Traffic calming for Upper Welburn
After several community meetings between public works staff and a neighborhood group consisting of 37 residences in the Upper Welburn Avenue area between Santa Teresa Boulevard and Mantelli Drive, as well as a presentation by the group at its Oct. 17 meeting, the City Council approved $25,000 to be spent on temporary “soft” traffic calming measures and follow-up monitoring to address various traffic issues in the area. They include installation of “No Right Turn” signs along southbound Mantelli just before the intersection with Welburn and a temporary plastic delineator barrier at the western entrance of Welburn at Mantelli, with “Do Not Enter” signs and a reflective marker yellow centerline stripe on upper Welburn. Staff will also discuss student drop-off at the nearby Pacific Point Christian School, which residents say cause much of the congestion.