Can You Fly A Drone In LA? Where In LA Is It Allowed?

can you fly a drone in la

When you get your drone you may start thinking about all the great places where you can fly it. LA would seem like one of these places since the area is full of great sights and attractions that you may want to get photographs and videos of. However, you need to pay attention to the legalities of flying a drone so that you don’t get yourself in trouble with the law.

It’s legal to fly your drone in LA as long as you’re 5 miles away from the airport, but you can’t fly your drone at the Hollywood sign or in Griffith Park. However, you can fly your drone on the beach. In fact, a lot of people really enjoy flying their drones on both Venice Beach and Torrance Beach.

echo park california drone picture with view of LA

Flying Your Drone in Los Angeles

While you’re permitted to fly a drone in Los Angeles you do need to make sure you’re following the law so that you don’t face sanctions. Of course, this is true regardless of where in America you choose to fly your drone today. Whether you’re traveling to the area for the first time or you’re a permanent resident there you should make sure you take note of these important regulations so that you’re safe and can enjoy the time you spend flying your drone.

Unfortunately, when you’re flying your drone in Los Angeles you’ll need to pay attention to more than just those regulations pertaining to trespassing and harassment. This is because there are a lot of areas throughout Los Angeles that have been designated as no-fly zones since they’re located within 5-miles of the 5 airports that are located there. These airports include the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the Hollywood Burbank Airport, the Long Beach Airport, the John Wayne Airport, and the Ontario International Airport (ONT). It is illegal for you as a drone operator to interfere with any manned aircraft in this area. Additionally, you can’t fly your drone at night or at a height of over 400 feet since your drone must always be in your line of vision.

Flying by the Hollywood Sign

While you may think that it’d be awesome to be able to fly your drone around the Hollywood sign and capture some pictures or videos doing so is actually prohibited. According to urban myth, this is because the sign is located on private property and the owner has an anti-drone gun that’ll jam your drone. In actuality, it’s because the sign is governed by Los Angeles Rec & Parks Ordinance No. 176,929. Additionally, the sign sits just outside of the Bob Hope airspace and you need to remember that it’s illegal to fly within 5 miles of an airport anywhere in the United States today.

Fortunately, this sign is very big so it’s visible from a lot of areas nearby. For instance, you can try flying from Griffith Observatory as long as you’re careful of the bird sanctuary there. The sign is also visible from Hollywood Blvd and from parts of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Laws Governing Drone Flying In Los Angeles

Before you head out to fly your drone in Los Angeles you should take some time to understand the laws and regulations that are in place there. According to these laws, there are two classes of drone pilots: recreational and commercial.

Recreational Drone Pilots

A recreational drone pilot is anyone who’s simply flying their drone for fun. In other words, you aren’t being paid while you’re flying your drone. As a recreational drone pilot, you must follow the rules that have been set forth by the FAA (Federal Aviation Association). These include:

  • Make sure you register your drone once you’ve acquired it. This is what gives you the authority to legally fly your drone. You should always carry this proof of registration with you while you’re flying your drone. Also, make sure that you’ve registered it properly. If you’ve registered your drone for recreational use, you can’t fly it for commercial purposes without being fined heavily.
  • You should always fly at 400 feet or under.
  • Always keep your drone within your line of sight while flying. If you lose sight of your drone you could either lose it or collide with other aircraft.
  • The only time you can legally fly at night is when your drone is equipped with lights.
  • When you’re flying in controlled airspace, make sure you have permission to do so from the appropriate authorities.
  • Never fly your drone while you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

California State Drone Laws

Besides following federal regulations while flying your drone in Los Angeles, you must also abide by California’s state laws. There are several pieces of legislation that you need to know about here. They’ve been passed by the California State Legislature because some drone pilots have acted irresponsibly in the past.

Chapter 817 (AB 1680) – Emergency service interference

This law was passed in 2016 to ensure that drones wouldn’t interfere with the work of first responders. According to it, you can’t fly your drone at the scene of an emergency. If you do so, you’re committing a crime against public health and safety.

Chapter 834 (SB 807) – Limiting the liability of emergency responders who take matters into their own hands

This is another law that was filed in 2016. The law limits first responders’ liability if they damage or destroy a drone when it’s interfering with their work.

SB 1355 – Banning flights over correctional facilities

According to this law, you can’t fly your drone over the top of a correctional facility in the state of California. If you do so, you could find yourself facing fines of up to $500.

drone hover in blue clear sky

Chapter 521 (AB 856) – Protecting privacy from above

California amended its invasion of privacy laws in 2015. This was done so that they could take private property into consideration. It states that drones can’t fly there without the owner’s consent, especially if the drone is taking photos or videos.

Chapter 404 (AB 527) – Limits on overenthusiastic pest control

While you probably weren’t planning on taking out a hornets’ nest with your drone, this law was passed for anyone who’d be brave enough to do so. According to this obscure law, you can’t use drones in pest control unless you have a valid manned pest control aircraft pilot’s certificate.

Best Places to Fly a Drone in Los Angeles

Now that you know about the rules regarding flying your drone in Los Angeles you may be wondering where some of the best places to do so are located. The following locations are accessible, don’t have many airspace restrictions, and offer great images for photographs and videos. Since they’re in uncontrolled airspace you won’t need permission to fly here. Of course, you’ll still want to make sure you follow the rules.

MacArthur Park

When you’re looking for one of the best places in Los Angeles to fly your drone, look no further than MacArthur Park. Formerly this park was known as Westlake Park but it was renamed in the 1940s after General Douglas MacArthur. It’s located close to downtown Los Angeles in class G (uncontrolled) airspace. Here you’ll find an amphitheater, a playground, a natural spring-fed lake, and some soccer fields. Many drone pilots say that this is one of the best places in Los Angeles to take pictures because the skyline is beautiful and the lake also offers great views.

Lake Hollywood

This park is located within Lake Hollywood State Park which is a human-made reservoir that was built in 1924. Here you’ll find a lot of paved roads that aren’t only great for cycling, jogging, walking but also for launching your drone. However, many people say that the best part of Lake Hollywood is its views. This is because you can easily see Los Angeles’ skyline and the Hollywood sign from here. In fact, there are a lot of people who come here to fly their drones because they want to also capture images of the Hollywood sign.

Silver Lake Meadows

Another area that’s been designated as Class G airspace is Silver Lake Meadows. This area is located on the opposite side of the Ivanhoe and Silver Lake Reservoirs. Here you’ll find a sprawling green space that is very tranquil which is part of what makes it such a cool place to fly drones. While this sounds great, the major attraction here is the mountains that are located off in the distance. If you’re a drone pilot who’s also a nature lover, this is the perfect spot for you.

The Hermosa Beach Pier

This is an area that most drone lovers in Los Angeles really love. The Hermosa Beach Pier was built early in 1904. Initially, it was a wooden structure but 10 years later it got washed away so it was rebuilt in 1914. Now, this is a concrete structure that offers great views of the Pacific Ocean. Hermosa is also a beautiful coastal town that offers some amazing drone footage.

You do need to be somewhat cautious if you want to fly your drone in the city of Hermosa Beach because they have some specific restrictions regarding drone flights within their jurisdiction. One of the big ones that you should know about is that California’s privacy laws are extended to mean any person, anywhere. Additionally, if you want to fly in the vicinity of a school you must first obtain an operating permit that allows you to do so.

Terranea Bluff Top Park

Located in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, Terranea Bluff Top Park is also Class G airspace. This is a great location because it also offers a view of the Pacific Ocean. Additionally, there’s a lighthouse and lots of beautiful landscaping there. These are just some of the features that make this a top destination for Los Angeles’ drone pilots.

night time picture of LA landscape

Venice Beach and Torrance Beach

Two of the most popular beaches in the area where you can fly your drone are Venice and Torrance Beaches. If you do decide to fly your drone here it’s important to avoid people so you may want to go early. However, if you really want to fly your drone away from people later in the day you may want to try one of the deserts instead.

Conclusion

While there are a lot of great places throughout Los Angeles where you can fly your drone unfortunately the Hollywood sign isn’t one of them. There are some places where you can fly that’ll allow you to have this sign in your background though. Doing this and abiding by the area’s laws and regulations is the best way to fly your drone there today.

By Shawn Manaher

Shawn Manaher loves to play with new toys and dive into new hobbies. As a serial entrepreneur, work definitely comes first but there is always room for hobbies.