San Diego City Council to consider drone regulations

Posted at 7:06 PM, Feb 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-08 22:06:00-05

SAN DIEGO - San Diego may soon join a handful of cities across the country with laws regulating how and where people fly drones.

News of the possible changes began to spread at EZ Drone on Miramar Road, where many people come to buy drones or to have them repaired.

"Everyone that's doing this now has time and money don't want to be overregulated so they're very careful with where they're flying and how they're flying,” said EZDrone owner Sean Daniels.

Which is why they're not too worried about the city of San Diego wanting to crack down on anyone flying a drone carelessly or recklessly.

“I started this business four years ago and I believe we've been widely self governed since then and I think we've done a really good job raising awareness to our customers telling them what to do and what not to do,” said Daniels.

San Diego's rules would give local police the authority to cite offenders with a misdemeanor or citations.  The rules would essentially mirror the Federal Aviation Administration's rules, such as not flying within 5 miles of an airport, not flying above 400 feet, at night, or above people. 

“Those props are like knives. So if you hit someone, they're going to cut them,” said drone user and Poway resident Andrew Sheaffer.

The rules were set by a group formed two years ago after a so-called "unmanned aerial vehicle" was spotted near a passenger jet around Lindbergh Field.  The group was made up of police officers, firefighters and other city leaders who studied federal and state rules, plus local ordinances already adopted in Poway, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and Pittsburgh.

"You can have a tone of fun without carelessly using it,” said Daniels.

He adds the new rules would provide clarity not only to drone users, but to law enforcement as well. 

The city council's public safety committee gave the proposed rules an initial unanimous approval this afternoon. The full city council will vote on a later date.