The East Bay Regional Park District reminds park visitors that drones – motorized, remote-controlled aircraft – are illegal in all parks and open space areas in the District.
Drones are extremely dangerous for helicopters and airplanes. Even a small drone could shatter a windshield or collide with an aircraft’s propellers or fuselage, causing the aircraft to crash and potentially killing all on board. The East Bay has four busy airports – in Oakland, Hayward, Livermore and Concord – as well as several hospitals with helipads, and a drone-related accident could be catastrophic.
“As more and more people get drones, they’re becoming an increasing safety hazard for aviation,” said East Bay Regional Park District Police Lt. Lance Brede. “It really can be a life and death situation, and we’re very concerned about the public’s safety as well as our own.”
Drones are also disruptive for wildlife, especially birds. The Park District is home to several re-bounding populations of special-status birds, including bald eagles and peregrine falcons, and protecting them is a high priority.
"Recreational drones can scare birds away from essential activities like feeding, roosting, and nesting," said Cindy Margulis, Executive Director of Golden Gate Audubon Society. "While a single drone flushing birds into flight may not seem disruptive, when this happens over and over, birds are unable to get the food and rest they need to survive."
In addition, drones can pose a safety threat and be annoying and intrusive for other park visitors.
Citations for violating the drone ordinance cost about $300.
Motorized model airplanes are also illegal in the parks, but non-motorized remote-controlled gliders are allowed in specified areas in three parks: Coyote Hills Regional Park and Mission Peak Regional Preserve in Fremont, and Del Valle Regional Park in Livermore.
Effective Dec. 15, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration requires owners of drones to register with the agency before flying outdoors. Drones are illegal in East Bay Regional Parks regardless of whether the owner has registered.
The National Park Service, as well as dozens of state and local park districts across the country, have banned drones. Drones are banned in the California State Parks, including Mt. Diablo State Park, except with a film permit.
Frequently Asked Questions about Drones in the Parks
Q: Can I fly my drone in the parks?
A: No. Drones are not allowed anywhere in the East Bay Regional Park District.
Q: Why not?
A: They can cause catastrophic damage to helicopters and airplanes, risking the lives of those on board, and are disruptive for wildlife, especially birds. They also disturb and can be a safety hazard for other park users.
Q: But I registered my drone with the Federal Aviation Administration. Does that make a difference?
A: No. The FAA’s new rules require drone owners to register their aircraft, but drones are still not allowed in any East Bay Regional Park District park or open space area.
Q: What happens if I get caught?
A: Citations cost about $300, including court fees.
Q: But I want to use a drone to photograph my wedding or special event. What if I get a film permit?
A: Film permits do not have exceptions for drones. Drones are not allowed under any circumstances in the parks, even for photographing weddings.
Q: What about model airplanes?
A: Motorized model airplanes are also banned in the parks, for the same reason drones are. Radio-controlled, non-motorized gliders are legal in certain areas in three parks: Coyote Hills Regional Park and Mission Peak Regional Preserve in Fremont, and Del Valle Regional Park in Livermore.
Q: How can I learn more?
A: Information about our model airplane and drone policies can be found here: http://www.ebparks.org/activities/models#planes
and here Ordinance 38: Section 409 - Miscellaneous Regulated Activities
Information about the FAA’s drone registration is here: http://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/
The East Bay Regional Park District is a system of beautiful public parks and trails in Alameda and Contra Costa counties east of San Francisco Bay, established in 1934. The system comprises 119,000 acres in 65 parks including over 1,250 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature learning.