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City Park Ranger's Enforcement

Discussion in 'Phantom 2 Vision + Discussion' started by PayDayPirate, Aug 22, 2014.

  1. PayDayPirate

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    Hey guys, been a Phantom owner for a week and asking a hypothetical question to get more familiar with my rights.

    Does a park ranger have authority to say I can't fly my drone on the property?

    So far I've mostly just been practicing in large, empty school playgrounds in the evenings. But yesterday I took it to a Seattle park and flew it around for 5-10 minutes. I was very respectful, there were several couples sitting by the river enjoying dinner and watching the boats and sunset. I flew nowhere near people, animals, boats, cars, planes and kept it at a distance to minimize noise. I had a friendly jogger stop by and ask questions and took several photos and video then left. Nobody bothered me but as I was leaving the park I walked by the first uniformed park ranger I had seen and he kind of looked at me and what I was carrying but didn't stop me or say anything. The blades were off so he probably couldn't tell if I had been flying it or just passing through the park. I don't know if someone had complained or not about the noise but I guess in theory they could have.

    I guess my question is, can they legally ask me to leave and/or stop flying because it's disturbing the peace or say they just don't allow it?

    I've never really heard of anyone getting tickets or cited, can it happen?

    I know the recent Amazon employee flew his drone by the Space Needle and the cops showed up at his room but I don't remember hearing if anything ever happened. I'll definitely stay away from famous landmarks though!
     
  2. N017RW

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    This is not the place for para-legal advice or information.

    I can't believe you'd consider arguing with a public safety officer regardless of your [possible] knowledge to the contrary.

    You sort out the who's right / wrong later for the next time.
     
  3. DaveMoi

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    I dont know if the park ranger can legally forbid you to fly or not, but I think you're best of listening to the ranger as you will always be pulling the shortest end of the stick. You might try to politely ask why or try to explain exactly what it is you're doing and hope he will change his mind. In the end I would do what the ranger says to avoid trouble and bad press for the hobby...
     
  4. PayDayPirate

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  5. PayDayPirate

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    Wow ok. I thought it would have been the BEST place. I mean it's a place where people can hear others' experiences right?

    I mean all I've heard is that enforcement is a gray area. You stay below 400ft and you're not in a restricted area then you're not breaking the law right? Maybe I'm wrong. That's just what I've heard.

    I'm not one to argue with an officer but maybe others here have. Just curious.
     
  6. MapMaker53

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    I agree not to argue. There are various laws at every level of government, ranging from international laws down to what day of the week you can water your lawn. A park may be considered public property, but the county, town or village generally sets their own rules when it comes to how and when people can use the park. Every location is unique. Some prohibit skateboarding, winter sled riding, alcohol drinks, etc. Some parks post their rules at the park entrance, some post the rules on the town government website, and sometimes a park ranger or police officer is left to explain the local rules to anyone who might be in violation and doesn't realize it. I'm guessing most small towns would opt to prohibit drone flying, just based on the bad publicity the hobby tends to get as a result of some idiots out there. I grew up in an NYPD (New York Police Department) family and learned to respect the law and those who try to enforce it and keep people safe. Irregardless of whether it seems that there are no rules against flying one's Phantom in a given park, my recommendation is to simply move on if asked to do so and respectively apologize for not knowing the rules. If you feel you have a right to fly your Phantom at that park, please take it up with Town Hall where all rules are established. And even if the park ranger happens to be wrong, I still wouldn't take issue with him. There are plenty of other open spaces to fly. Again.. just my opinion.
     
  7. Damon

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    I would not use this forum as legal advise. Its accessed world wide with world wide answers and opinions.

    He needs to research all the park rules, city codes, and state laws where he is flying.

    Even if you are informed and in the right don't argue. Its not very hard to get stuck with an obstructing charge.

    Better to abide and then go up the food chain with complaint or civil suit.

    My 2 cents.
     
  8. smaugnaut

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    **** DUDE YOURE A JERK. YOU DONT HAVE ANY FRIENDS IM SURE
     
  9. smaugnaut

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    This is a great response to your question. I second this statement.

    If your asked to leave just leave. no need to bring anymore attention to yourself ya know
     
  10. IrishSights

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    Hey steady on! Stay cool. I dont think OP was planning to argue, at least from his post, he was just asking for input like we all do at times!
     
  11. N017RW

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  12. PayDayPirate

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    Thanks guys. Some better replies after that initial guy.

    It's very good for me to understand that it's best to apologize and act respectful if/when confronted. It's true that there are many places to fly if I get turned away from one (with hopefully just a warning). I don't want to give this hobby any more bad rap than it's already gotten.
     
  13. Jstic

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    Whoa there bud, lighten up! He is asking valid questions in the right place and is asking for advice from experienced flyers. NO WHERE does he indicate he is "considering arguing with a public safety officer.....", so you are jumping to conclusions big time. We're here to help each other out and trade information, not scold people for asking legit questions.
     
  14. Jstic

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    What I do when I go to public parks or state forests and the like is to read the rules which are almost always posted at the entrance. Some are very specific in regard to flying, some are not.
     
  15. Keeper of Maps

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    In general, the landowner gets to say what you can and cannot do on their land. In this case, the park ranger is acting on behalf of the landowner. If the landowner says "please leave" then you should leave lest the next thing is to declare you trespassing. (Yes, you can trespass on publically-owned lands in some jurisdictions.)

    Regardless of whether the park ranger can or cannot actually do this, the prudent thing is to exit politely. Kick up a fuss and you could run afoul of the law and you'll give the hobby a bad name and possibly make it harder for other flyers in the future.
     
  16. Werz

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    Personally, I like public parks for flying. To a large extent, you can know exactly where you stand. But that requires homework.

    First you need to know where you stand regarding the law:
    • State laws
    • Municipal ordinances
    • Park rules or regulations

    If nothing prohibits you from flying, you're most of the way home, because the park rangers (or similar public safety officers) cannot simply prohibit you from doing it because they don't like it. But you're not done yet. There is still the idea of disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace. The officer can demand you stop for that reason, but the officer will need to come up with some underlying basis for that demand, like a citizen complaint. Once again, they cannot stop you just because they don't like it.

    That does not mean that you argue with them. On that day, their rule is the rule of law. On the next day (or maybe later that same day), you go to the park authority and complain that there is no rule in place and thus no notice (an essential element of procedural due process), then ask by what authority the officer is demanding that you stop. You may also need to pursue that issue "up the ladder" of authority. The ultimate authority on this issue will almost always be city council, and you may not get what you want from them, but at least you can get a fair and public hearing where other interested parties will have an opportunity to be heard.

    A couple of rules of thumb regarding public safety officers:
    • Never argue with them when they tell you to stop doing something.
    • Never assume that they had absolute authority to do that.
     
  17. DrTelemark

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    Hey PayDay -
    I've been flying in Maple Leaf park, Discovery Park and Gasworks in Seattle. Haven't seen any enforcement folks ever and people have been very interested in the camera/quad system. Pretty laid back response despite the news - mostly "hey that's cool".

    The FAA "rules" are actually guidance not law - just FYI - I've seen the original (scanned) document and it is clearly guidance. Still wise to follow the guidance but until there are real laws on the books, being responsible and safe is going to have to be our best guide. For example - I was at Gasworks, flying over land at 250 feet, then noted some seaplanes coming in to land on Lake Union. I decided to stay at 100 ft max and well out of the way of their flight path. Since it's not a designated airport, the Phantom didn't go into failsafe mode. I'm not going to fly there again, since it feels like the airspace really isn't clear. Just an example of being on the safe side even though there are rules against it.
     
  18. Tripnman

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    I'm sure with a bit more digging online you'll find the answers you need. I know that in my county (Sacramento, CA) there is a municipal code that forbids RC airplanes in county parks. Note that word - airplanes. I've looked at the code as published and it uses that word. I may become a test case, as my PV2+ is not a RC airplane, and I've been flying in a few county parks regularly to get aerials of the river. ;)

    As for Seattle, a quick search found THIS via seattle.gov and the city clerk's office:

    Note that they were clever enough to use the word "aircraft" which broadens the definition to include quads and other 'copters.

    Happy flying!
     
  19. Meta4

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    Does a park ranger have authority to say I can't fly my drone on the property?
    Rather than relying on anonymous forum members opinions that may or may not have any relation to the real situation, the simple way to answer that is to find out what the city rules are for the area.
    Two minutes on google finds this ....
    http://clerk.ci.seattle.wa.us/~scripts/ ... tm&r=1&f=G

    Whether it is enforced is another matter
     
  20. PayDayPirate

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    Thanks guys. You've all been really helpful. Great community here.

    This is where I was flying at. My first trip over water!
     

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