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Pittsburgh City Council To Clarify Drone Laws

City Council members are expected to vote on a bill next week that would clarify where drones are allowed as they become more affordable and available in the Pittsburgh market.

“Historically, unmanned aircraft, including model airplanes, have been barred from our city parks,” said Jim Griffin, director of Parks and Recreation for the city. “That, we now extend to drones.”

This isn’t a new policy; council is just clarifying existing code to add that drones are, in fact, not allowed to be flown over city parks and playgrounds, Griffin said.

Council members voiced concern at a meeting Tuesday that drones and other unmanned aircraft could be a safety hazard, either by impeding medical helicopter traffic or coming close to or landing on people and injuring them. For others, it’s a bigger issue.

“For me, it’s less about safety, although there is a safety component," Councilman Dan Gilman said. "A drone with a camera going over someone’s backyard is a serious privacy concern for me.”

This latest bill addresses only drones flying over public spaces. Gilman told fellow councilors he’d been told that the Federal Aviation Commission is the only body that can impose airspace restrictions on private property.

The private property debate will likely be revisited by council at a later date, Gilman said.