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Back Country Citizens Concerned About Drones
‘Back Country Voices,’have joined to raise concerns about the recent unanimous vote by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in support of a proposal for testing drones over Southern California skies. “I don’t know what we can do,” said one participant of the newly formed group, “but we have a lot of questions that need to be answered.” The group came together to discuss ideas and plans about educating themselves as well as the public about how our environment, safety and privacy might be impacted by drone testing in our skies overhead. “I’m very concerned,” said another participant, “about drone technology pushing way ahead of the groups that are writing the regulations for them. Parameters need to be put around their usage. I believe it’s a slippery slope going from military to domestic use.”
Northrop Grumman in Rancho Bernardo, known for its Global Hawk drones and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems in Poway, known for its Predator drones, are two of the largest unmanned aerial vehicle makers, and have carved out a booming local defense industry. The Army and Air Force have been using aerial drones for several years as weapons of firepower and surveillance.
With the anticipated increased commercial usage of drones, many fear our country is becoming ever-closer to a surveillance society.F.B.I. Director, Robert Mueller admitted remotely operated aerial drones have been used in the United States for surveillance and says the government needs to develop guidelines as the use of drones increase. Anyone, in fact, can buy a personal drone with limited range.
Privacy and safety seemed to be the predominant concerns of the eclectic group, whose goal is to call for a public hearing on the matter. One member of the group claimed the announcement concerning the Supervisors meeting came only a few days before the announced proposal. “They mentioned in the news that they’d presented it to the public and there was no comment, when in fact, there was no venue to hear comments. I take issue with that,” she said. “Education is the answer,” said another person. “We don’t care about what we don’t know about,” he said.
The group is putting together a panel of experts capable of addressing these many concerns of drone usage in our back country, and hope to open the topic up for discussion with our local supervisors as well. They plan to hold a series of meetings in order to achieve the goal of securing a public hearing, before the F.A.A. reveals the winners of the test-site lottery in December.
Dates for public meeting/hearing:
Monday, Nov. 11th, 6:00 p.m. at the Julian Library
Wednesday, Dec. 4th, 6:30 p.m., at the Julian Town Hall
Informed citizens are truly the strength of a democracy.
Concerned residents of San Diego County have joined together to form a citizens action group, ‘Back Country Voices,’ which will provide the necessary public outreach and education to better address the ramifications of a ‘National Drone Testing Site’ in our back country.
It was recently noted (September 24) in the UT San Diego, KPBS, and several news channels, that the 5 San Diego County Supervisors voted unanimously to approve San Diego back country as one of the proposed 6 national Drone Test Sites to be determined by the FAA in December, 2013.
There have been no public forums, informational hearings, nor has there been any opportunities for concerned citizens to ask about the drone test sites. In fact, many area residents do not even know that this proposal is being considered.
Back Country Voices has filled this gap by facilitating public forums, a citizen’s action network, information gathering and sharing, accountability, and advocacy.
Please join us and share your voice!
Back Country Voices’ Facebook group –