May 31, 2022






The purpose of the summary below is to apprise you of three San Mateo Court small claims hearings regarding SFO’s runway noise (NOT overhead flight noise) from 2018 to 2022 ~


(Both the court and the defense were provided sufficient rulings, explanations, court cases, and Federal Register statements to substantiate these laws.)


The undisputed law:  Federal law has no preemption over local runway noise laws: it does not override a local airport noise issue. The noise is without question the responsibility of the airport’s proprietor, the City and County of San Francisco (CCSF), who must investigate and mitigate the ground noise.


At no time did CCSF acknowledge this legal responsibility.



The undisputed law:  Federal statutes are not to be abided by in small claims court.


CCSF unlawfully utilized federal statue US Code 47506 (see next page) in small claims court, apparently interpreting part of the statute’s first paragraph thus: Anyone who didn’t buy their current home by 1980 is “barred from seeking damages for noise”. The court commissioners* inappropriately complied with the defense’s inaccurate interpretation,  resulting in most plaintiffs being denied the right to seek damages for the runway noise.




The undisputed law:  The California Supreme Court, the California Superior Court, California Civil Code section 3479, and the California Judicial Council Civil Jury instructions have all ruled favorably on “nuisance” claims involving airport noise (NOT overhead flight noise) and the rights of those seeking damages for the noise.


By incorrectly complying with the defense’s interpretation of US Code federal statute 47506’s first paragraph, the small claims court commissioners essentially nullified fundamental California laws regarding local runway noise and those negatively affected

by it.




I’ve filed a small claims “cancel judgment” motion that I anticipate will be rejected. Perhaps others who are disturbed by the ground noise will consider organizing a step up to a higher court. I’ll try to answer any questions you may have.


                                                                                                          Sally Meakin


* Small claims court commissioners are distinguished from judges in that they are appointed by, and serve at the pleasure of, the Judges of the court, and act as temporary judges presiding over cases as directed by the Presiding Judge.

                   49 U. S. Code Section 47506


Preceding this federal code was Title 49, section 41713 b) (1) “This subsection does not limit a political subdivision of a state…that owns or operates and airport…from carrying out its proprietary powers and rights.”  The defense did not heed this regulation. 

Section 47506 involves homes affected by overhead craft noise in the federal domain. Our homes are in an area well outside of the federal domain.



49 U.S. Code § 47506 - Limitations on recovering damages for noise

(a) General Limitations.—A person acquiring an interest in property after February 18, 1980, in an area surrounding an airport for which a noise exposure map has been submitted under section 47503 of this title and having actual or constructive knowledge of the existence of the map may recover damages for noise attributable to the airport only if, in addition to any other elements for recovery of damages, the person shows that—

(1) after acquiring the interest, there was a significant—

(A) change in the type or frequency of aircraft operations at the airport;

(B) change in the airport layout;

(C) change in flight patterns; or

(D) increase in nighttime operations; and

(2) the damages resulted from the change or increase.


(b) Constructive Knowledge.—Constructive knowledge of the existence of a map under subsection (a) of this section shall be imputed, at a minimum, to a person if—

(1) before the person acquired the interest, notice of the existence of the map was published at least 3 times in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the property is located; or

(2) the person is given a copy of the map when acquiring the interest.

The defense interpreted this section to mean: Anyone who didn’t buy their current home by 1980 is “barred from seeking damages for noise.” The court commissioners rendered verdicts in accordance with this interpretation.