RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. — City Council here is set to vote on a proposal, what could be the first law of its kind in California.
The proposed ordinance bans the flying of “unmanned aircraft that can fly under the control of a remote pilot or by a geographic positions system (GPS) guided autopilot mechanism” up to 400 feet above areas zoned residential. Anything flying higher is in Federal Aviation Administration jurisdiction.
A “drone permit” from the city would be required to make recordings of a single residence, along with written permission from the homeowner.
“Technically, people can use these things to tape people’s homes and backyards and put it on YouTube,” said Steve Quintanilla, city attorney in this Palm Springs, Calif., suburb of about 20,000.
Remote-controlled drones, capable of flying at low altitudes while equipped with cameras or even weapons, have raised fears of inescapable surveillance by law enforcement from civil liberties advocates. Some 30 states are considering laws curbing their use by authorities, generally by requiring them to first get a probable cause warrant.