New York Gov. Kathy Hochul vetoed the so-called ‘Stop the Chop’ bill that would have limited helicopter flights to and from the Hudson River Park heliport.
The bill, sponsored by State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) among others, would have banned non-essential helicopter flights from the West 30th Street heliport in the state-owned park and would also have allowed people to sue for excessive noise caused by helicopters either on the ground or in the air.
But Hochul vetoed it Thursday, records from the governor’s office show. In justifying her veto, she wrote that airspace is regulated by the federal government, not the state.
“Certain elements of this bill run counter to the federal scheme regulating New York’s airports and airspace,” she wrote. “Therefore, I am constrained to veto this bill.”
Hoylman said he was disappointed at the governor’s choice and promised to redouble efforts to close the West Side Highway heliport altogether.
“There’s no reason that there should be a heliport in a park which causes a great deal of noise and disturbance and is unnecessary,” he said. “The millionaires and billionaires can take the Long Island Railroad like the rest of us.”
A recent report prepared by Hoylman’s office and the group Beta.nyc found that on average, 165 helicopters fly over Manhattan each weekend. About half of those trips take off from New Jersey, according to the report, which wouldn’t have been affected by the bill.
Noise complaints for loud helicopters have grown exponentially in recent years, Bloomberg reported this month, from 3,332 complaints in 2019 to 25,916 last year.
The issue has become a rallying cry for some Manhattan elected officials including Councilmember Gale Brewer who has complained about the “deafening noise” caused by the choppers, and outgoing Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who urged Hochul to sign the chopper blocker bill over the summer.
Hochul often uses the West 30th Street helipad, as well as one on the East River on East 34th Street, when coming and going from New York City, schedules from the first half the year show.
The private company Blade – dubbed Uber for helicopters – and one of the main companies that uses the West Side heliport, didn’t return a request for comment right away. The company advertises five minute rides to nearby airports starting at $195.
Blade has previously defended their use of the heliport, saying they support some restrictions to tourist trips, but point to their use of the port to transport human organs to and from nearby hospitals, W42nd Street reported.