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What it's Really Like

Lists of data are hard to gather on this topic without long-range, deliberate studies. However, the daily reality of the citizens in and around Coupeville is an undeniable, obvious situation.

A very important part of the economy in Central Whidbey Island comes from tourism. Unfortunately, tourist events and sites are not wisely advertised for the work week because we all know that the jets will fly over. All it takes is one attendance of a concert where the visiting cellist is drowned out during his performances to discourage participants and attendees from risking that again. Tourists learn very quickly not to waste their time from Monday through Friday and are angry with us when they are trapped in the noise zone without warning. Angry tourists do not return.

Outdoor labor during the work week is challenging; ear protection must be at the ready at all times, and with the increased flights that occurred in 2013 (and are likely to increase further in 2014), needed to be worn nearly all day every day. With activities that aren't as necessary as showing up to work, such as enjoying the local outdoors for hiking, running, cycling, camping, barbecues, visits from friends, your kids even playing in your yard; these simply are being done less and less during the week because they are no longer a pleasure - they are a health hazard.

Our weekdays (and nights!) are stolen from us. All we have, for uninterrupted work, play, rest, and peace of mind, are the weekends. The rest of the time, with the increased flying rates and louder planes, it is like living in a shack under a high speed runway. This is nothing like 'living near an airport' as some have assumed.

Many houses here are very old structures that predate the OLF, with old windows and softer materials not intended for use near a runway. Not only does that make living in them during the flyovers more difficult, but the unnatural noise level shakes apart the very historical buildings that are the heart of Ebey's Historical Reserve. Retrofitting them to withstand modern levels of damage basically would destroy their historic value.

House buyers strangely enough don't find this arrangement appealing, and the local real estate agents know personally how it affects the home buying and building income of the area.

Central Coupeville doesn't get much of a direct economic boost from the Navy base; it's too far away. Navy families shop and dine almost entirely in Oak Harbor so we don't see very many of them down in Coupeville. Yet the economic price of the base's presence is exported squarely onto Coupeville, unravelling the hard work its citizens have dedicated toward building its financial future. As the noise increases, even Port Townsend's economy is being affected by the use of the OLF.


From Wyle Labs, Aircraft Noise Study for Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and Outlying Landing Field Coupeville, Washington:

Property Values

Property within a noise zone (or Accident Potential Zone) may be affected by the availability of federally guaranteed loans. According to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and Veterans Administration (VA) guidance, sites are acceptable for program assistance, subsidy, or insurance for housing in noise zones of less than 65 DNL, and sites are conditionally acceptable with special approvals and noise attenuation in the 65 to 75 DNL noise zone and the greater than 75 DNL noise zone.

Noise Effects on Historical and Archaeological Sites

Because of the potential for increased fragility of structural components of historical buildings and other historical sites, aircraft noise may affect such sites more severely than newer, modern structures. Particularly in older structures, seemingly insignificant surface cracks initiated by vibrations from aircraft noise may lead to greater damage from natural forces (Hanson, et al.1991).