Drones Grounded

UAV restrictions


Drone hobbyists may need to think twice before taking their toys out to fly in West Hollywood. The California city is taking on privately operated drones in the name of privacy and safety.

In January, the city council approved an ordinance setting strict limits on where drones can fly, who can operate them, and what sorts of information they can collect. The ordinance warns the gadgets can sometimes "pose a hazard to full-scale aircraft in flight and to persons and property on the ground" and requires that individual operating permits, which go beyond existing Federal Aviation Administration licensing, be obtained.

It also requires that drones always give way to piloted flights, that they always be within view of operators, that they not fly above certain heights, and that they never interfere with emergency workers or fly over schools or parks. Drones also have to stay at least 25 feet away from other people and may not be used to capture or record images in places where individuals might have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as private property or office buildings.

The rules come months after a drone accidentally hit some electrical wires in the city, causing about 700 residents to lose power.