Hempstead’s Anti-Drone Proposal: Possession = Guilt

HempsteadDespite the FAA’s best efforts to reign in local anti-drone laws, the ordinances proposed get crazier and crazier – like the latest from the town of Hempstead, NY.

Hempstead is a populous town on Long Island – one that apparently does not like drones.  In a new proposal for a “Drone Ban” the town seeks to eliminate drone use anywhere on in the town’s public spaces.  The proposal states:  “The Town Board…finds that the flying of UAS in the vicinity of Town of Hempstead facilities presents a noisy and potentially dangerous condition to the public and wildlife that may be present…UAS use in the vicinity of the Town facilities is inconsistent with the establishment and maintaining of a safe, secure, and pleasing public environment. The Town Board further finds that it is in the public interest to limit the private use of such UAS…”

Apparently the “public interest” means everyone except drone operators.    In this case, the term “town facilities” would seem to indicate anywhere that is publicly accessible in Hempstead, as the proposal specifies that the ban would include any “park, beach, cemetery, building, repair facility under the ownership or control of the Town of Hempstead as well as any public area under the use or control of the Town of Hempstead.”

While a total ban on recreational drones is certainly negative news for enthusiasts or anyone in the drone industry in Hempstead – which has a population of nearly 750,000 – what is more troubling to drone stakeholders is the clause which would make equate mere possession of a drone with a violation of the ordinance.  “The possession by any person of a UAS while on or in the vicinity of any Town of Hempstead facility creates the presumption that such UAS has been used in violation of this chapter subjecting the possessor of such UAS to all penalties provided for herein,” says the proposal.

While such draconian anti-drone proposals are becoming more common, they may be difficult for local governments to enact.  Yesterday, a Los Angeles filmmaker cited for violating that city’s anti-drone ordinance won his case when he challenged the city’s right – due to FAA preemption – to pass drone laws in the LA Supreme Court.


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