Date: April 13, 2019
By: Marianne Napoles
Source: Champion News
While the City of Chino Hills is wrestling with unmanned vehicles and aircraft in parks, State Senator Ling Ling Chang has been working on a “drone hit and run” bill on behalf of the Chino Hills BAPS Hindu Temple.
Chino resident Ronak Patel, a BAPS volunteer, said owners and operators of unmanned aircraft have repeatedly caused property damage to the mandir on Fairfield Ranch Road but have refused to accept responsibility.
He mentioned the problem to Senator Chang when she was visiting the temple earlier this year.
As a result, she authored SB 648 which requires drone operators involved in an accident resulting in personal injury or property damage to immediately land the drone at the nearest location and provide their name, address, and identification to the injured individual or owner of the damaged property.
Mr. Patel said signs on the temple grounds specifically state that no drones are allowed on campus, so most operators park their vehicles on the public street and operate them from their vehicles.
Others park their cars across the street and operate from the sidewalk near the warehouses.
An operator flying a drone from Monte Vista Avenue near the Monte Vista mobile home park could not see the drone and it clipped a spire. The drone landed on the roof and the individual demanded it back, stating he was on public property and had a right to fly it, Mr. Patel said.
A BAPS volunteer retrieved the drone from the roof and returned it, but the owner refused to provide his name or contact information.
In another case, an individual lost control of his drone over the lotus fountain where it crashed. Although it caused no major damage, the fountain had to be turned off and inspected to ensure the hoses and tiles weren’t damaged, Mr. Patel said.
The operator refused to provide his name and contact information, claiming that he was flying it from across the street in a public right-of-way.
Senator Chang said motor vehicle drivers are required to stop and provide identification and contact information if they are in a car accident involving injury or property damage.
“Like vehicles, drones can and have caused injury and property damage,” Senator Chang said. “Current laws give drone operators an incentive to leave the scene. We need to protect public safety by holding drone operators accountable.”
SB 648 was unanimously approved by the Senate Transportation Committee on Wednesday and will go back to the Senate Rules Committee to be determined where to be referred next, whether it’s another committee or to the Senate floor, stated spokeswoman Stephanie Hu.