Poway to Consider Drone No-Fly Zone Around Emergencies

A proposal to keep drones two miles from an emergency site will go before the city council Tuesday

When people flying drones delayed aerial water and retardant drops on a raging wildfire off Interstate 15 near the Cajon Pass last month, Poway Mayor Steve Vaus took notice.

When drones became a nuisance to San Diego firefighters battling a restaurant fire last week, he knew it wouldn't be long before the problem hit home.

“Firefighting efforts are being hampered by these clowns with drones, I thought ‘We’ve got to do something,’” Vaus said Wednesday.

So at next Tuesday’s meeting, Vaus will urge the Poway City Council to send an ordinance proposal establishing a two-mile, no-fly zone around local emergencies like brush fires to the city attorney for review.

The ordinance would carry a $1,000 fine for anyone who breaks the rules and would allow for the confiscation of the drone.

NBC 7 spoke with several Poway homeowners who expressed early support for the idea.

“I would be for it, to find those people” said Linda Bryan.

Others have questions about how the law will be enforced.

“Enforcement is going to be the big challenge. They can pass the reg (ordinance), but how will they make it stick? Unless you catch somebody red-handed doing it, that’s going to be tough” said George Cowman.

Vaus isn’t aware of any other local municipalities who’ve tackled the issue with these kind of local rules and fines, but he believes it will easily pass through city council at Tuesday’s meeting.

“Hopefully as the word goes out that we have this ordinance in place and we’re taking it seriously, somebody is going to think twice about whether all those YouTube views will be worth the fine and losing your $1,000 helicopter," the mayor said.

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