Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the SB 142 drone law, now what?

According to the Los Angeles Times, last night California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed Senate Bill 142 which was proposed legislation that intended to restrict the use of drones flying over private property (you can read my post on why I urged the Governor to veto the bill by clicking here).

governor jerry brown sb 142 drone law

Vetoed Bill SB 142


Governor Brown vetoed the bill acknowledging that it was well-intentioned but he went on to say that it “could expose the occasional hobbyist and the FAA-approved commercial user alike to burdensome litigation and new causes of action” whether or not anyone’s privacy was violated.

With this victory, it is now time that we address some of the issues raised by this bill

While I applaud Governor Brown for his veto decision and see it as a victory for drone users and the drone industry, I also believe it is now a call to action for us to move forward in addressing some of the issues this bill has raised so that we can arrive at a better, more balanced bill.


6 items that now need to be addressed include:


  • 1) Coming up with a clear definition of what private airspace ownership constitutes (James Grimsley has an excellent article on this topic that you can read by clicking here)


  • 2) From a privacy perspective, what is an acceptable altitude? Based on my experience it is very hard for anyone to gauge how high a drone really is and once a drone reaches past 125 feet the image details on the ground are hard to make out. So we need to establish what is fair and reasonable. Some leaders in the drone industry say that 200 feet would be a reasonable altitude (see here and here).


    • 3) Having better, more defined rules from the FAA (which is the national authority that has exclusive jurisdiction of the airspace in the US) so that local and state governments don’t have to navigate, manage or regulate the complex airspace system.


    • 4) Ways to better educate drone pilots so that ignorance is avoided and drone operators know, understand and follow the FAA’s rules (for more info on what the drone rules are click here).


    • 5) There should be a required license or certification of some sort for anyone who flies a drone to insure that pilots are properly educated and deemed responsible to fly.


    • 6) Lastly, those who fly/support drone technology need to help educate the public to the benefits surrounding drones so that the drone hysteria that is currently being fueled by the media can be remedied.

While this list doesn’t cover every single issue on the drone spectrum, I hope it can serve as a starting point for having meaningful discussions centered on safe, fair and respectful flying. We need to start researching, educating and conversing with the public and government officials on these issues so that we can arrive at solutions that benefit all parties, otherwise we could be in this same situation next year with another well-intentioned bill that misses the mark.


Help me in urging Gov. Brown to veto California’s Drone Trespass Bill SB 142

California Senate Bill 142 drone law

Governor Jerry Brown is currently sitting on Senate Bill 142 which would make it illegal to fly below 350 feet over private property if the operator does not have permission from the property owner. This means that a UAV pilot could only fly within a small 50 feet band of airspace since the FAA’s altitude cap is currently set at 400 feet. It also means that operators of model aircraft could be subject to possible law suits and civil sanctions (more detailed information on this bill can be found at the end of this post).

We need a better bill that specifically protects First Amendment rights while addressing privacy concerns, rather than a bill like this one that puts a broad ban on aerial imaging and the act of flying.

Not only would this radically change flying for hobbyists but it could greatly stifle or completely stop innovation for the over 100 companies in California that are currently developing drone technology as well as the hundreds of millions of dollars that are currently being invested in the drone industry just in California alone.

The bill was originally drafted with intentions to combat offensive photography by those looking to cause trouble (like the stories of perverts trying to spy on people). I applaud the efforts of those trying to protect people’s privacy but unfortunately while doing so the bill has gone too far and is now considered too broad and unbalanced. While I think there should certainly be laws and guidelines in place that protect people’s privacy, SB 142 is not the one. The current proposed bill now threatens those who like to fly for fun and possibly those looking to innovate with this technology in the state of California.

The original bill created a cause of action only when someone was trespassing for a very specific purpose — to violate one’s privacy. (Gregory S. McNeal)

There is still time to make your voice heard if you would like this bill to be vetoed. Join the Innovation Movement, founded by the Consumer Electronics Association, and easily send a prewritten email to Governor Jerry Brown urging him to veto Senate Bill 142 by clicking on this link. I have already done so (it only took 20 seconds) and I have also called his office.

Those urging Governor Brown to veto this bill include the National Press Photographers Association, the Consumer Electronics Association, the Small UAV Coalition, the Academy of Model Aeronautic and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International to name a few. Governor Brown has until this Wednesday, September 9, to either sign or veto this proposed legislation.

If you believe that this bill is too broad and overreaching please consider making your voice heard! Quickly send an email to Governor Brown by clicking here or consider calling his office at (916) 445-2841.


For more information check out these links:

• The actual SB-142 Civil law bill: unmanned aerial vehicles
• California’s Drone Trespass Bill Goes Too Far
• See what drones can really see at various altitudes

Video of the Week: Drone views of Sedona, Arizona

sedona arizona drone 1

This week’s video comes to us from Charlie Kaye of Back in May Charlie and his wife set out on a 3,000 mile road trip from Dallas, Texas to Santa Barbara, California. One of the spots they were most looking forward to seeing after the Grand Canyon was the beautiful desert town, Sedona, Arizona.

Charlie used a DJI Inspire 1 to capture drone views of Cathedral Rock, Church of the Holy Cross, Schnebly Hill Road, Bell Rock and the Courthouse Butte which was all done in just a day and a half. He admits that he is already thinking about going back to Sedona so that they can spend two weeks hiking around all the more remote spots in the area. Read More

How to correct the GoPro lens distortion (fisheye effect) on photos

This week I was contacted by Christian who asked me how he could fix the fisheye effect he was getting on his photos from his GoPro camera. If you’re using a DJI Phantom 2 or a 3DR Solo drone then chances are you have probably run into this as well where your photos seem to bulge at the center which results in a curvy horizon. After sharing with Christian how to correct it using Adobe Lightroom I decided to also turn it into a quick tutorial for those who were struggling with this same issue. Below is a short video tutorial as well as screenshots on how you can correct this effect.

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Ireland From Above in 4k

Ireland drone aerial video

This week Matthew Coakley of Blue Mantle Media shares with us the vast and dramatic countryside of Ireland. Matthew traveled around Ireland for 10 days with his family and put together this beautiful video of their travels. In it we see drone views of the enormous Cliffs of Moher, Benbulben Mountain, the Dingle Peninsula, and the now-ruined medieval Dunluce Castle. Be sure to check out the video below! Read More