California Bill on Drones Operating Over Private Property Moves to Senate

The California House of Representatives has just voted to amend the Civil Code to make it illegal to fly “Unmanned Aircraft” over private property to an altitude of 350′ without permission of the owner:

1708.83.

(a) A person wrongfully occupies real property and is liable for damages pursuant to Section 3334 if, without express permission of the person or entity with the legal authority to grant access or without legal authority, he or she operates an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system less than 350 feet above ground level within the airspace overlaying the real property.

 

As of this writing, the bill has passed to the senate after passing in the house.  It is not yet law.

It’s unsurprising this sort of legislation is coming through the pipeline, in the wake of certain incidents involving shotguns.  This particular legislation is aiming to clarify the ambiguity regarding “Below 400′ AGL” airspace.  The FAA provides guidelines to safe operation, but are unclear on how low an operator can legally fly…

  • Fly below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles
  • Keep the aircraft within visual line of sight at all times
  • Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations
  • Don’t fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying
  • Don’t fly near people or stadiums
  • Don’t fly an aircraft that weighs more than 55 lbs
  • Don’t be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft – you could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft

Individuals who fly within the scope of these parameters do not require permission to operate their UAS; any flight outside these parameters (including any non-hobby, non-recreational operation) requires FAA authorization.

Expect more legislation like this as drones become more commonplace, and certain drone operators continue to operate them irresponsibly.

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