The East Bay Regional Park District is off-limits to drones and will cite violators $300 if they fly the unmanned aircraft in any of the district's 65 parks and 120,000 acres of open space.
Even though the Federal Aviation Administration began requiring drone owners to register with the agency before flying outdoors, drones are illegal in all the 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 also banned drones. Drones are banned in the California State Parks, including Mt. Diablo State Park, except with a film permit.
Park spokeswoman Carolyn Jones said even a small drone could shatter a windshield or smash into a plane or helicopter’s propellers or fuselage, causing the aircraft to crash.
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, she said. h
“As more and more people get drones, they’re becoming an increasing safety hazard for aviation,” East Bay Regional Park District Police Lt. Lance Brede said in a statement. “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 said, including bald eagles and peregrine falcons. Protecting them is a high priority, 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, Jones said.
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.
More information about the East Bay Regional Park District’s drone policies can be found here.