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Are you planning a trip to visit Los Angeles? Or maybe you just moved to Los Angeles and want to know if you can fly a drone there. It is always a good idea to be aware of drone laws before visiting or moving to a place and attempting to fly your drone.
Federal drone laws from the FAA apply to all states in the United States, but each state (and county and city) has its own local drone laws as well, so you need to be aware of each of these laws when moving to or visiting a new place. So, can you fly a drone in Los Angeles?
**You are legally allowed to fly a drone in Los Angeles, as long as you follow all FAA regulations for drone use, as well as a few Los Angeles-specific drone rules such as not flying within 5 miles of airports, avoiding people, and not interfering with emergency response activities. **
Keep reading to learn more about Federal laws, State laws, and the local laws that govern flying drones in Los Angeles. I will also share some about some of the best places with beautiful views to fly a drone in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles Drone Regulations #
If you are in Los Angeles, you must follow the local regulations. Here are County and City regulations that must be followed in Los Angeles, in addition to all of the other State and Federal drone regulations (see the following sections for State and Federal drone regulations):
- You may not fly any drone within a 5-mile radius of any airport.
- You may not fly a drone at night.
- You may not fly above 400 feet.
- You must always fly your drone within your line of sight.
- You must not operate the drone with 25 feet of an individual not connected to your flight activity.
- You must not operate the drone in a careless or reckless manner, or in a way that violates Temporary Flight Restrictions.
If you are flying a drone for commercial purposes in Los Angeles County, you must apply for a permit with the city.
You should also note that drones are not allowed near the iconic Hollywood sign. Neither are they allowed in Griffith Park, another popular landmark of Los Angeles. Not to worry, though, there are plenty of places in LA where you can fly a drone. We’ll get to those in just a bit.
California Drone Laws (State Level) #
No matter where you are flying, you should always check the State laws for drone use. This will help you understand better the rules and regulations for drone flying within the State you are either visiting or living in.
According to California State Laws, you can fly a drone in State Parks, State Beaches, State Historic Parks, State Recreational Areas, and State Vehicular Recreation areas unless there is a District Superintendent order posted to prohibit such flying.
These orders, according to the law, may be posted to protect cultural and natural resources, specifically threatened species, or areas where there is a high fire danger. The Superintendent can also prohibit flying if it impacts visitor experiences or there are recreational conflicts. If you are planning on flying in a California State Park, check with the local district for specific orders.
According to Cal. Code Regs. tit. 14, § 4351, drones are prohibited within wilderness areas, cultural preserves, and natural preserves. If you plan on flying a drone in a State Park, you should check the designation of the park before launching your drone to be sure it does not fall under one of those categories.
State Park staff also have the ability to prohibit drone operation at their discretion if they believe it threatens other visitors to the park, property, wildlife, or privacy.
Federal Drone Laws #
If you’re flying a drone in the United States, you must abide by the laws the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has for all drones. Los Angeles, as a city in the United States, falls under the FAA’s jurisdiction, and drone pilots must follow the FAA rules as well as other local laws that are specific to the Los Angeles area.
The FAA uses two different categories when it comes to flying drones: recreational and commercial. Your category depends on the purpose for which you are flying your drone.
Recreational: Most hobby pilots fall under recreational use, which means they’re flying a drone just for fun. In June 2021, the FAA implemented the requirement of taking the Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) for all recreational pilots. It’s a simple test, but it is necessary for everyone flying a drone even for a hobby.
Once you’ve passed the TRUST test, you need to have your certificate available when flying your drone in case someone asks for it. If your drone weighs more than 250 grams (.55 pounds), you also need to register your drone with the FAA at the DroneZone website (link). This registration lasts for 3 years and costs $5.
Commercial: If you are going to get paid for flying your drone, or your drone flight is benefitting a business venture in any way, you need to apply for a commercial license, often referred to as the Part 107 license. This license costs $175 and must be renewed every two years.
The test is fairly difficult, but there are many drone courses that can help you prepare to take the Part 107 test. You can check out our recommended courses here. If you are going to be flying your drone commercially, there are also a few other different regulations and laws you must follow to do it legally.
The FAA has general regulations for both commercial and recreational pilots. No matter your reasons for flying your drone, if you’re flying in Los Angeles, or anywhere else in the United States, you will need to follow these regulations:
- Pass The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST)
- Register your drone (if it’s over .55 lbs or 250 grams)
- Keep your drone within your visual line of sight (or have a visual spotter if you are flying FPV)
- Do not interfere with any manned aircraft and give them the right of way
- Fly in controlled airspace only with prior authorization (You can check the airspace classification using the LAANC system, FAA Dronezone, or the B4UFly app.)
- Keep your drone below 400’ in uncontrolled airspace
- Comply with all airspace restrictions
- Do not fly faster than 100 mph
- Avoid flying over people, vehicles, or crowds
- Do not interfere with emergency response activities
- Do not fly close to airports or prisons or any other area that may be restricted
Best Places to Fly a Drone in Los Angeles #
Now that you know the rules and regulations for flying a drone in Los Angeles, and California in general, here is a list of some of the best places to fly a drone in Los Angeles. If you are planning a visit to Los Angeles and bringing your drone, be sure to put a few of these places on your list to fly (and don’t forget to apply for a permit to fly at the Hermosa Beach Pier).
MacArthur Park #
Located at 2230 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90057, this park with uncontrolled airspace close to downtown Los Angeles has a spring-fed lake and soccer fields. From this park you can get great views of the Los Angeles skyline with your drone. The lake also makes a great place to get stunning photos and videos with your drone.
Point Fermin Park #
Located at 807 W Paseo Del Mar, San Pedro, CA 90731, this uncontrolled airspace park also has ocean views, hiking trails, and lots of open space. It’s also near the historic Point Fermin Lighthouse. It makes a great place to get beautiful shots with your drone without bothering a lot of people.
Wilder’s Addition Park #
Another park that is close to Point Fermin is Wilder’s Addition Park, located at 607 Paseo Del Mar, San Pedro, CA 90731. You can also get great views of the bluffs, ocean, and lighthouse from this park.
Hermosa Beach Pier #
This pier located at 1 Pier Ave in Hermosa Beach, California, was once a wooden structure but has been rebuilt as a concrete-only pier that is 1000 feet long. It is a great place to fly with great views of the Pacific Ocean as well as the city of Hermosa and the coast.
You do need to get a permit to operate a drone in this area, but it is a great place to fly and take breathtaking pictures and videos, so it’s worth taking the time and trouble to get the permit.
Silver Lake Meadow #
This park in Los Angeles, located at 2300 Silver Lake Blvd, has uncontrolled airspace, and a great view of the Ivanhoe and Silver Lake Reservoirs. With all the open space, walking paths, and green space, this is a great place to fly your drone and take in the great views.
Venice Beach #
Venice Beach is a popular beach where you also happen to be allowed to fly a drone. But be sure to avoid flying over people, since it is a crowded place. According to the LA Parks website, between 28,000-30,000 people visit the Venice Beach boardwalk area each day. There is a lot to see and do there, but as always, be careful flying your drone around crowds.
Now you have an idea of the rules, regulations, and drone laws regarding flying your drone in Los Angeles and the state of California. When flying your drone, be sure to be courteous to law enforcement or others who approach you to ask about your drone. Knowing the laws can help you be at peace as you are flying and confident that you are doing what you are supposed to do.
As always, be sure to check the laws and regulations often because they can be changed. If you are in a place where you are unsure about the laws, make sure to check for posted rules and regulations before flying. You can also check on the B4UFLY flight app for restricted airspaces.