Jun 13, 2015
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Solano County, California
I recently added my name to a petition to reject the Restrictive Drone Ordinance under consideration by the City of Richmond, California. To my surprise, I received this sincere response from Richmond's Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles. I wanted to share her email and my response:

"Thank you for contacting me about your concerns. I’m concerned about protecting the rights of those who fly drones as well as those who do not. It would be helpful if you could provide me an example of where the proposed law provides unusual difficulties for drone pilots. I’m curious, what part of Richmond do you live and what areas of Richmond do you fly drones?"
Regards, Jovanka Beckles"

Here's my reply:

"Dear Vice Mayor Beckles,

Please don’t discount my concerns because I don’t live in Richmond -- I live in nearby Vallejo, California and fly all over Northern California, including Point Richmond and the Brickyard Cove area. I hope you enjoy some of my videos, one of which was recently featured by KRON SF News: rickeyFitts

Here are some of the issues with the proposed ordinance, specifically for FAA Licensed commercial pilots like myself:

- Bans all operation of drones within 25 feet of humans
The FAA already prohibits flight directly over people. There are circumstances where 25 feet, although safe with proper planning and expertise, is too restrictive for many commercial activities, such as wedding videography and events.

- Imposes a 20 MPH speed restriction
This is totally useless and un-needed, and effectively bans all drone racing in Richmond. Can the City of Richmond afford to opt-out of an industry that, as reported in is estimated to generate nearly $2 billion in annual revenue by 2020?

- Allows law enforcement to confiscate your drone and impose fines if you are in violation of the ordinance
The City of Richmond does not legally regulate U.S. Airspace – the FAA does. Therefore, the City of Richmond has no legal jurisdiction to punish legal drone pilots in such a manner.

All in all, such a misdirected local ordinance will certainly put Richmond on the wrong side of innovation and the law, while accomplishing nothing, except continuing to promote alarmist reactions to this largely safe and beneficial activity.

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my original email, and I hope you find the information helpful, and that you find my drone-videos to be entertaining and informative.

Best regards," etc. etc.

Whattya think?
There is no link to the actual ordnance being proposed, only someone's interpretation of it.

Just going by what was linked to...

It appears that this is yet another attempt of a city to regulate US airspace... which is specifically prohibited by US Code (you can search for this, public airspace and us code, probably). Only the FAA can regulate airspace.

Most of this can change if the ordinance regulates the person on the ground and what they can and connect do.

If you can't fly within 25 feet of someone, what is the purpose of the 20mph speed restriction? Are model rockets not capable or far worse offenses under these conditions then a UAV? What about a baseball which can be thrown within 25' of someone at far greater speeds?

What about the ability for things like search and rescue that this would prevent?

As mentioned, all of these issues are already accounted for with current laws. This one would simply restrict people in ways that does not add to anyone's safety.

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