Doubts cast on San Francisco aerial ad ban

November 6, 2013

AOPA is opposing an ordinance being considered in San Francisco to prohibit aerial advertising over the California city, and urged the mayor to "terminate" the proposal in recognition of the FAA’s jurisdiction over national airspace.

A committee of the city’s board of supervisors took up a proposal for a permanent ban on aerial advertising over San Francisco in July, soon after the board approved a short-term measure regulating advertising in airspace above the America’s Cup boat races. AOPA opposed that ban as the latest in a "hodgepodge" of locally initiated measures to regulate airspace activities, which is the sole province of the FAA.

AOPA reiterated its objection in response to the new proposal, calling for it to be terminated in a Nov. 5 letter to Jason Elliott, the city’s director of legislative and government affairs.

"Taking action to terminate any aerial advertising ban would ensure that airspace is regulated at the federal level for the safety and efficiency of the National Airspace System," wrote Melissa McCaffrey, AOPA senior government analyst for air traffic services.

In its advocacy efforts, AOPA has also pointed out that a Pennsylvania municipality’s attempt to enforce an aerial-ad restriction against a banner-tow operator, and a $1,000 summons, was rejected by a judge in July.

San Francisco’s proposed permanent ban has also received skeptical treatment in news coverage; in July the San Francisco Examiner, reporting on the jurisdictional questions, described the measure as "stalled" over the city’s lack of clear authority.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz | Aviation Writer

Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.