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Evanston drone hobbyists could largely be limited to flying in their own yards under a proposed ordinance scheduled for City Council introduction Monday.

The new eight-page ordinance would replace a one paragraph complete ban on flying model airplanes in the city code.

But it says hobbyists would need a property owner’s permission to fly over any property in the city — including city-owned property.

And, watch out if you’ve got overhead utility wires in your yard. The ordinance would require the utility’s permission for flights within 25 feet of those.

Oh, and if you live in northeast Evanston, within a quarter mile of the city’s water plant, you couldn’t even fly in your own yard — to prevent the risk of collisions with helicopter ambulances that sometimes land there.

The ordinance carves out exceptions to its restrictions for drone flights by commercial drone operators licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration and by law enforcement agencies operating drones legally under state law.

The ordinance would let city officials seize drones believed to be operating illegally and impose a $500 fine on violators.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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2 Comments

  1. Restrictions on drones

    Let me first say that I am not a drone hobbyist, nor do I think I ever will be.  But this seems a little ridiculous and not a great use of time by our City officials… There are already FAA regulations in place that clearly define the rules and regs as far as the FAA is concerned which should be adequate for all Americans…  Allowed only on one’s yard… permission to fly-over someones yard? What’s the problem here? 

    This might be instructive:  https://www.faa.gov/uas/faqs/

    And:  https://thedroneauthority.org/drone-regulations/

    Respectfully, Brian G. Becharas

    1. Can they even do that?

      This sounds like the exact sort of thing the FAA does not allow local governments to do: https://www.faa.gov/uas/resources/uas_regulations_policy/media/uas_fact_sheet_final.pdf “Substantial air safety issues are raised when state or local governments attempt to regulate the operation or flight of aircraft. If one or two municipalities enacted ordinances regulating UAS in the navigable airspace and a significant number of municipalities followed suit, fractionalized control of the navigable airspace could result. In turn, this ‘patchwork quilt’ of differing restrictions could severely limit the flexibility of FAA in controlling the airspace and flight patterns, and ensuring safety and an efficient air traffic flow. A navigable airspace free from inconsistent state and local restrictions is essential to the maintenance of a safe and sound air transportation system. EXAMPLES OF STATE AND LOCAL LAWS FOR WHICH CONSULTATION WITH THE FAA IS RECOMMENDED Operational UAS restrictions on flight altitude, flight paths; operational bans; any regulation of the navigable airspace. For example – a city ordinance banning anyone from operating UAS within the city limits, within the airspace of the city, or within certain distances of landmarks. Federal courts strictly scrutinize state and local regulation of overflight. “

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