Chapter 14 Enforcement or Restrictions for UAS

The growth of UAS on our UC campuses has also led to rising concerns over inappropriate UAS usage. This Chapter provides guidance on the enforcement of the Policy and campus responses.

14.1 Enforcement and Safety

It is important to note that while the Policy seeks to improve UAS safety by providing oversight, overuse of UAS restrictions may be counter productive.

In conjunction with positive means for advocating for UAS safety, there is a role for enforcement of the Policy. The decision to approve or deny UAS activity should not be taken lightly. The best outcome for a complicated scenario should be a discussion of safety concerns and mitigration strategies. However, there will be cases when a formal denial declaration is necessary and a template is provided in Chapter 21.

14.2 Appropriate Reasons to Restrict UAS usage

While the Policy states that the UAS activity must be reviewed for specific compliance issues, a Designated Local Authority may also review for impacts to University Business and other local issues. Ultimately, there may be additional reasons to restrict UAS usage unrelated to legal compliance. Below are some recommendations for a non-exclusive list of appropriate reasons to restrict UAS usage as well as some reasons that may be overly cautious.

Appropriate Reasons

  • Proximity to Medical Helipads
  • Privacy concerns within 100 ft distance
  • Expected heavy pedestrian or vehicular traffic at the date/time of UAS activity
  • Impacts to wildlife
  • Detrimental to University Business
  • Lack of planning or safety mitigations

Overly Cautious Reasons

  • Privacy concerns at distances greater than 100 ft
  • Noise concerns at distances greater than 200 ft
  • Pedestrian safety when campus activity is non-existent
  • Requiring advanced training in low risk locations
  • Risk of damage to outdoor sports equipment or facilities with UAS under 4.4 lbs

14.3 Unauthorized use of UAS on a University Location

Depending on the situation, there are several different approaches. The primary response should be education rather than punishment. Below are four example situations and an appropriate response.

  • If there’s an immediate and evident safety threat (maliciously endangering others, reckless behavior, etc), call local law enforcement.
  • If the operation of a drone is impeding University Business such as disrupting an event or preventing authorized UAS activity, ask the person to stop and to leave. If they refuse, then it may be considered trespass and contact local law enforcement.
  • If no one is at immediate risk, the UAS activity is not impeding University Business, but the UAS activity is likely a violation of an applicable federal, state or local regulation, ask the operator to stop and point out the violation. If the operator persists, collect information, and report to the Systemwide Designated UAS Authority.
  • If the only violation is that the UAS activity was not requested or approved (everything is legal, safe and its not interrupting anything), ask them to stop, inform them of the policy, and the reason of the policy. Law enforcement action is not advisable, however, the situation may be documented and administrative action may be taken, if appropriate.

14.4 Common Arguments and Potential Counters

Occasionally a UAS operator may disagree with the review or potential enforcement action. In many cases, the disagreement may stem from a misunderstanding of regulations or miscommunication of policy. The following lists some common arguments and a response to clarify the underlying misunderstanding.

Argument: Only the FAA may create airspace regulations

The campus is not creating airspace regulations. It has a policy on where a person may or may not operate a UAS, model aircraft or drone. While on campus property, a person may not operate a UAS without prior approval. The FAA claims sole jurisdiction of the airspace and overflight6, but laws and policies such as land-use, zone, privacy and trespass are not subject to Federal Regulation7.

Argument: This area is open to the public, why can’t I fly my drone here?

While the University of California is a public agency, this does not mean that its property is not managed. The University has a responsibility to ensure the safety and security of everyone8. In order to manage the property, the campus has established that a person may not operate a UAS without prior approval.

Argument: I’m operating as a hobbyist, there are no regulations

Hobbyist operators are subject to Exception for Recreational UAS statutes introduced by the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. In addition, UAS regulations do not supersede land-use, trespass or privacy regulations. The campus has put into policy that while on campus property, a person may not operate a UAS or drone without prior approval.

Argument: This is a toy, not a Drone

Congress has defined Unmanned Aircraft as any aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft. This definition has no size or weight limit. While the operator may be using the Unmanned Aircraft as a toy, it however is regulated as above. Even though Unmanned Aircraft under 0.55 lbs do not require registration, they are not exempt from regulation.

Argument: I have legal authorization from the FAA to fly here

A licensed sUAS operator may have permission to use the airspace, but the campus still has jurisdiction to create policy on where a person may or may not operate a drone on campus property. The FAA makes it clear that an Airspace Authorization or Airspace Waiver does not grant physical property access rights. Under ‘Standard Provisions’ of an Airspace Authorization or Airspace Waiver, there is a line that states ‘Note - This certificate constitutes a waiver of those Federal Rules or regulations specifically referred to above. It does not constitute a waiver of any State law or local ordinance.’

Argument: I’m not causing any problems

The campus has the jurisdiction to determine what is appropriate use of its facilities9. If a person is causing legitimate concerns on campus safety, campus security, privacy or interfering with University Business, that person is not using campus facilities appropriately.

  1. 49 U.S.C. 40103(b)↩︎

  2. pg. 42194, Federal Register, Vol. 81, No 124↩︎

  3. UCOP Policy PACAOS-40.00 Policy on Use of University Properties↩︎

  4. UCOP Policy PACAOS-40.00 Policy on Use of University Properties↩︎