Drones over your home? Phoenix, Paradise Valley explore laws
While commercial operators await federal rules governing the use of drones, two Arizona communities are exploring local laws that aim to protect the privacy of residents by limiting the use of unmanned aerial vehicles.
Phoenix and Paradise Valley have entered the national fray over camera-carrying drones, which are increasing in popularity as more hobbyists fly them for fun and companies like Amazon discuss using them to deliver air-born packages.
Paradise Valley is considering an ordinance that would make it illegal to fly drones in town without a permit. Backyard hobbyists and law-enforcement agencies that may need to use drones during emergencies would be excluded from the proposed ban.
“Our residents move to Paradise Valley because they like the privacy,” said Mayor Michael Collins, who presides over a community that counts celebrities, sports stars and Discount Tire founder Bruce Halle, the richest person in Arizona, among its residents. “They like the large lots. They like the distance between neighbors. They like the dark quiet skies and they really cherish the quality of life that brings.”
In Phoenix, Councilmen Michael Nowakowski and Sal DiCiccio unveiled a draft ordinance last year that aims to safeguard privacy, making it illegal for drones to be used “to intentionally or surreptitiously” record or film someone without consent, among other restrictions. DiCiccio said Phoenix’s law remains on the back burner until the new federal rules are completed for small commercial drones, which is likely to be about 14 months.
Elected officials across the country have cited the potential invasion of privacy as well as safety risks associated with drones, which can fly hundreds of feet in the air. They worry about drones colliding with other aircraft, crashing to the ground or scaring onlookers or drivers on the road.