SOSEB (“Save Our Skies East Bay”) is a volunteer group formed in 2016 by residents of the East Bay, who noticed that the frequency and volume of airplane traffic over their tranquil homes had seemingly exploded overnight.
Some sleuthing revealed that indeed some things had changed. In 2015 the FAA had implemented their new satellite GPS system for guiding aircraft over the Bay Area, the Next Generation or “NextGen” system. Where air traffic was formerly dispersed over areas many miles wide, arriving and departing planes were now compressed into narrow and undeviating routes (sometimes referred to as “rails”) only a few thousand feet in width. The result? More planes concentrated over very specific routes, which served the FAA’s efforts to gain greater airspace usage but failed to calculate the impact of these routes on the underlying communities.
Banding together to try and see if tranquility could be restored, it was soon made clear that SOSEB had to work with cities, elected officials, and the airports to make progress with the FAA. So the original band of neighbors reached out to find others who were equally impacted by these air traffic changes and SOSEB grew to include people with expertise in aviation, law, environmental regulations, community relations, science, and media relations as well as other concerned citizens.
Based on the skills and knowledge of its members, SOSEB has been recognized by the Oakland Airport Community Noise Management Forum for its critical activism and expertise. SOSEB was given seats at, and now chairs, the Noise Forum’s NextGen Subcommittee. It was this Subcommittee that promulgated the proposals for noise mitigation that are now before the FAA.