BUYING A HOME NEAR THE AIRPORT

POTENTIAL HOME BUYERS SHOULD NOT RELY ON THE RESIDENTIAL DISCLOSURE REPORT to determine whether or not the property is affected by airport traffic -- especially if it is located three miles or less from the airport. Instead, they should contact the Torrance Airport and ask about helicopter routes, traffic patterns, departure routes, and arrival routes. Ask if noise complaints have been made by the current property owner or the neighbors. Ask the homeowners’ association if airport noise has been identified to them as a problem. The map below shows the source of airport complaints.

Potential buyers or renters of residential property should keep in mind that Torrance Airport is a key regional transportation asset. As such, the number of flights, traffic mix and types of aircraft using the airport will change with time as transportation needs change. CONDITIONS IN THE FUTURE WILL NOT BE THE SAME AS THEY ARE TODAY.

ALTHOUGH AIRCRAFT MAY LEGALLY FLY ANYWHERE OVER THE SOUTH BAY, the map below depicts FAA-approved helicopter (red) and typical frequent fixed-wing aircraft (blue) arrival and departure routes for the Torrance Airport. Helicopters fly at 500 feet above ground level (AGL) on the routes and in the traffic pattern so as not to conflict with fixed-wing traffic pattern at 1000 feet AGL. Fixed-wing aircraft arriving or departing the airport (blue areas) may be below 1000 feet AGL. The Torrance Air Traffic Control Tower controls all flights below 2600 feet above sea level and within 5 miles of the airport. Low coastal clouds may require the pilot to make early turns north or south of these paths to maintain the FAA-required clearance from clouds (2000 feet horizontally, 1000 feet above, and 500 feet below).


View Torrance aircraft flight paths in a larger map

Section 1102 of the California Civil Code requires the seller (in the California Residential Disclosure Report, Paragraph C, item 11) to identify neighborhood noise problems or other nuisances. Ask the seller or the seller’s agent if there are such issues with the property or if the seller has made airport noise complaints.

The following is a partial listing of California real estate fraud statutes. These statutes are very liberally construed to facilitate the public interest in preventing fraud in real estate transactions.

Section 1103.4 of the California Civil Code requires notice to the buyer (in the California Residential Disclosure Report) if a property is encompassed within an airport influence area. Section 11010 of the Business and Professions Code defines an airport influence area as "an area in which current or future airport NOISE, OVERFLIGHT, safety or airspace protection factors may significantly affect land uses. . ." [emphasis added].

A number of companies prepare these reports and some rely only on maps prepared by the county Airport Land Use Commissions (ALUC) to make this determination. The current Torrance Airport Influence Area map was prepared in 1991. With a few minor exceptions, it shows the airport influence area as completely contained on airport property. It does NOT include the helicopter routes or the aircraft arrival and departure routes. This map does NOT meet the requirements of the law.

The Los Angeles County ALUC has plans to update the influence area maps for their airports, but the state has provided NO FUNDING to date. The update process will include the helicopter routes and other areas in which overflight complaints have been made.

Some local companies do, however, factor in the airport’s traffic in their Disclosure Reports and are complying with the intent of the laws. GeoAssurance, Inc. of Long Beach, for example, properly identifies all property within 2 miles of the airport as being within the Airport Influence Area.

It is best to do your own research to find out the details of airport traffic flow over the property.