Golden Gate Bridge officials push lawmakers for tighter controls on drones

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Golden Gate Bridge officials have sent a pair of letters to Washington, D.C. urging tighter controls on drones.

Golden Gate Bridge District General Manager Denis Mulligan drafted a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein March 20th, and another to Federal Aviation Administrator Michael Huerta dated April 24th, urging new rules for drones.

The drones present several concerns, said District spokesperson Priya David Clemens.

The flying devices can be a danger to drivers on the roadway, distracting drivers who should be focused on the task of driving.

The district also says there was at least one case where a drone dropped down onto the bridge. "Just a couple of months ago we had a drone that just fell out of the sky, onto the bridge roadway," said Clemens. "Thankfully, no one was hurt, we didn't have any accidents, with vehicles or pedestrians, you can see the havoc that that could create."

The District also said the drones pose a security risk, since they can fly and take video or photographs of sensitive parts of the bridge.

"What we need to make sure of is that no one has access to secure and sensitive areas," said Clemens.

Jason Lam founded AeriCam, and designs and manufactures flying camera systems, in addition to shooting aerial videos.

He says without clear rules in place it's hard for drone operators to know if they're doing something wrong.

He welcomes the idea of working with lawmakers and the FAA on crafting common sense rules. "We need to have more communication, and guidelines set," said Lam. "The quicker the better so there's less of these issues coming up."

Regular bridge users say they'd like to see common sense rules in place governing the use of drones as well. Gina Parenzin regularly uses the bridge to come into San Francisco for work. "I think the bridge should have its heightened awareness for security at all times," said Parenzin. "So, having a drone would definitely be something to worried about."

Andrea Tomas is also a regular user, and says she understands how a drone could be a distraction for drivers. "Well if I am driving I think I would continue, but it can be kind of scary," said Tomas.

The District is not saying it wants an outright ban on drones. In fact the District says drones could be very useful for inspecting difficult to access parts of the bridge.