Island County Hides Illegal Jet Noise Levels from Home Buyers and sellers here on Whidbey

Island County Hides Illegal Jet Noise Levels from Home Buyers

The noise level at homes under Growler flight paths reaches 134 decibels, scientifically compared to more than four jack hammers tearing up your driveway. (See link below) How did Island County hide this noise from families who thought they were buying their “dream home?” Simple. They changed the Noise Disclosure from one of the best in the U.S. to probably the worst. (See Note below)

In 1992, Island County adopted a Noise Disclosure that was an effective document, clearly informing buyers of the noise from “military jet aircraft” at OLF Coupeville and other locations. (See link below) Although now outdated, it did state that practice sessions run day and night, and the noise level could exceed 100 decibels.

In 2002, the disclosure was changed significantly. (See link below) Notice the NMLS copyright at the top, four very misleading sentences in fine print in the middle, and a place for buyer signatures at the bottom. What does it now disclose? “Military jet aircraft noise” became “significant airport noise,” and all of the additional information that the county knew buyers needed in 1992 was not included.

In addition to the disclosure that buyers sign, the county also has a 2002 Noise Ordinance. At the top, it says “approved by the WA State Building Code Council.” It is referred to in the 2002 Noise Disclosure, but the only clue that it might be helpful for a non-builder is the statement that there may be building restrictions on the property, and a buyer should consult the ordinance to see if that is the case.

What happened to Island County’s stated intent for this disclosure to “protect the public health, safety and general welfare by providing for full disclosure?” It appears that the county threw home owners under the bus to meet the needs of realtors who copyrighted it, builders who approved it, and the county, who was willing to state an honorable intent and then intentionally mislead buyers.

Buyers are required to sign this disclosure so that the claim can be made that they were told. The new disclosure freed commissioners to side with OLF Supporters at their meetings, sign a formal resolution to support the noise (See link below), and wear “I love Jets” T-Shirts at their meetings. Instead of taking responsibility for the problem, they suggest that the agonizing lives of these families is a patriotic sacrifice they should be willing to make. The unbearable noise is the sound of freedom! If these families loved the Navy/our country as much as OLF supporters, they should be willing to endure flight deck conditions, make do and shut up, or move. And, hard as it is, many of them do, but the next wave of misled complainers just moves in right after them.

Why doesn’t the Navy, with years of experience and millions of dollars invested in preventing buyer’s remorse in communities like ours, take on their mandated leadership role? It turns out that the Navy Liaison (and who knows how many more in the Navy hierarchy) thinks the 1992 disclosure is the same one that is still in use to protect buyers today. She emails it out to show how good it is, and she’s not alone. Most people on the island have been duped. I guess it serves a purpose to blame buyers for the mess we find ourselves in now. If they would all just move back to where they came from . . .

noise doubles with every increase of 10 decibels, jack hammer compared to 110 decibels:
Note: (Google “county noise disclosure” to see how exceptionally good most disclosures are.)
1992 Island County Noise Disclosure: See page 402.
2002 Island County Noise Disclosure:
County Resolution in support of OLF:

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  1. Citizensofthereserve

    Rich Melass, Community Liaison, Whidbey Naval Air Station, supported and recommended the Board’s approval of the Comprehensive Plan changes in regard to the Noise Zone Map as well as staff recommended changes to ICC 14.01.B.

    Answering questions from Commissioner McDowell, Mr. Melass said he was not aware of any other cities who had adopted as extensive a noise code as this, certainly nothing of the kind locally; this is considered at the leading edge and used as a model around the country. Pete Ross.

    1. Bob Moxleye

      Is Commissioner McDowell the same person in charge of the Pro-OLF petition, Mac McDowell? Wasn’t he a developer? Hiding the disclosure then should make big problems for the Navy letting the jets fly again now. It looks like there has been no disclosure since 1992. He may have harmed OLF Coupeville more that he is currently helping it. The Navy looks bad when people aren’t notified. I wonder why he did it?

      1. citizensofthereserve

        Money in the McDowell pocket. That’s why McDowell does everything.

  2. Larry Bloom

    A political cartoon image has invaded my brain. The scene is a bird’s eye view from Admiral’s Cove to OLF. A Growler is swooping down from over the water to land. In front of the jet, there is a huge steam roller smashing houses as it climbs the hill toward the OLF. There are three figures driving the steam roller. One looks like Commissioner Mac McDowell, one like 2002 Navy Liaison Rich Melass,, and the last looking like the NMLS president. There is a stripped steam roller in the distance, labeled 1992 Noise Disclosure. The label on the steam roller lumbering up the hill is 2002 Noise Disclosure. The caption would read County Commissioners, Navy, and realtors clear the way for jets by stripping the 1992 Noise Disclosure.

    1. Joe A Kunzler

      I would change the caption to, “Clear the way for encroachment for a quick buck… by stripping the 1992 noise disclosure”


      1. Bob Moxleye

        I wouldn’t give any awards for the 1992 Noise disclosure either. If the numbers COER spent $5k measuring are right, it is going to have to say 134+. 100 is over the top. 80 is illegal in every setting. Noise doubles with every 10 decibels. So that means the noise is now 4 times what it was. It shouldn’t take an EIS study. My 4-year-old could figure this out.

      2. Joe A Kunzler

        I don’t think it really matters beyond 100 dB – it’s loud and nobody should be living in that area. Nobody.
        I also note I get 80-85 dB on the Island Transit bus with my iPod touch apps which means I have to crank up the volume almost if not as high as it’ll go to hear for instance a recording of a book or an Island County Commission meeting.

  3. Bob Wilbur

    Noise is just one of the problems swept under the County carpet. Others include pollution (aka, jet fuel dumping over residences)and safety, and waving a generic “noise flag” does not begin to inform folks about how tremendously their lives can be effected. But COER is doing that for the County, and the buyers are just starting to figure get the message, and they are smiling and saying “Thanks, but no thanks.” And those left holding the bag…well that story has yet to be told.

  4. Bob Moxleye

    Who cares about jet noise! Why is there no disclosure about the crash zone the Navy has failed to draw, as they are required to do? It would run 15,000 feet on either side of the OLF, be 3000 wide, which would be almost all of Admiral’s cove. When the Navy gets around to doing it at OLF as they did in Oak Harbor in 2008, would the Navy buy out the residents? There own regulations that no one should live there might require it. The Navy paid $2 mil to just one property owner in 2008. If people did not sell, could residents get homeowner’s insurance? Would buyers be able to get a loan? HUD, for one, won’t lend. Oh, and Admiral’s Cove gets no reduction on taxes on the crash zone property here like they do in Oak Harbor. Probably because the Navy has not yet said that the crash zone is the crash zone.

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