Encinitas commission to review drone regulations


The Encinitas City Council last week directed the Encinitas Traffic and Public Safety Commission to review drone regulations.

That action came about in response to a plea from resident John Herron. During the public comments section of the council meeting, he urged the council to adopt regulations prohibiting drones from flying over city parks and beaches.

“I think we all agree our beaches and open spaces are what makes our city special,” Herron said.

He first asked the council to consider drone rules last August, following an incident in which a low-flying drone frightened his son at Mildred MacPherson Park in Encinitas. The council at that time asked for a report on what power it has to regulate drones.

Councilwoman Catherine Blakespear said the Traffic and Public Safety Commission is the appropriate vehicle to explore the matter. That commission makes recommendations to the Encinitas council.

“It’s a public safety issue,” she said.

Cities are increasingly considering drone regulations. The Los Angeles City Council in October, for example, notably prohibited drones from flying within 25 feet of a person.

The council at last week’s meeting didn’t specify which drone regulations or city ordinances the commission should review.

Herron took it upon himself to craft a potential ordinance, which he presented to the council at the meeting. Among other things, his ordinance calls for a ban on drones flying over city beaches and parks.

Locally, there aren’t any drone rules on the books, such as a minimum distance that drones must stay away from people. Drone pilots are only subject to penalties or arrest if they clearly endanger property or someone’s life. But there are Federal Aviation Administration rules in place, including that drones can’t fly near airports and must stay below 400 feet.

A date hasn’t been set for when the commission will explore the matter.