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Drone Laws in California (2018)

A list of drone regulations and links for people flying drones in California.

drone laws in CaliforniaCalifornia Drone Regulations

 

Federal Drone Laws in California

These are drone laws that apply to every state in the U.S., including California, and were created by the federal government.

To fly a drone as a commercial pilot in the state of California (i.e. for work / business purposes) you are required to follow the requirements of the FAA’s Part 107 Small UAS Rule (Part 107), which includes passing the FAA’s Aeronautical Knowledge Test to obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate.

To fly a drone as a hobbyist in the state of California (i.e. for fun / pleasure) you are required to register your drone with the FAA and follow the FAA’s Special Rule for Model Aircraft.

To fly a drone as a government employee in the state of California (i.e., for a police or fire department) you may either operate under the FAA’s Part 107 rule or obtain a federal Certificate of Authorization (COA).

Note: The content on this page is meant for informational purposes only, and is not meant to take the place of legal counsel.

State Drone Laws in California

These are drone laws that apply to the entire state of California, and were created by the California State Legislature.

According to the California Department of Transportation and the California General Assembly, California has three state-wide laws concerning the use of drones in the state.

SB 807 // 2016

This law provides immunity for first responders who damage a UAS that was interfering with the first responder while he or she was providing emergency services.

AB 1680 // 2016

This law makes it a misdemeanor to interfere with the activities of first responders during an emergency.

AB 856 // 2015

This law prohibits entering the airspace of an individual in order to capture an image or recording of that individual engaging in a private, personal or familial activity without permission. This legislation is a response to the use of UAS by the press in covering celebrities and other public figures.

All drone pilots operating commercially in the state of California are subject to the FAA’s Part 107 rules. Learn more about the FAA’s certification process to obtain a commercial drone license in this free guide.

Know something we don’t about drone laws in California? Send us an email at support[at]uavcoach[dot]com. We do our best to keep this list up-to-date, but the reality is that given the pace of the small unmanned aerial system (sUAS) industry and how municipal governments are responding, drone regulations in California can change throughout the year, and changes can be hard to track.  If we missed something, please reach out to let us know.

drone laws in California
Why fly a drone in California? To get great shots like these!

Local Drone Laws in California

These are drone laws that apply only to certain regions, cities, or counties within the state of California, and were created by various authorities within the state.

Town of Los Alamitos—Municipal Ordinance // 2018

This city ordinance creates restrictions on drone flight and activity within the town.

City of Yorba Linda—Municipal Ordinance // 2017

This city ordinance bans drone takeoffs and landings outside of a drone pilot’s visual line of sight; within 25 feet of another individual, excepting the drone pilot or drone pilot’s designee; and on private property without the consent of the property owner.

This city ordinance also prohibits takeoffs and landings within 500 feet of a special event or emergency response without a city-issued temporary use permit, and any violation of an FAA temporary flight restriction or notice to airmen.

Town of Calabasas—Municipal Ordinance // 2017

This city ordinance gives local authorities the power to enforce FAA drone-related regulations by making violations of FAA regulations a misdemeanor. This city ordinance also places limits on how close a drone can fly to a school or public event.

City of Hermosa Beach—Ordinance 16-1363 // 2016

This ordinance requires drone operators to obtain an operating permit and identification number assigned by the City in order to fly a drone in Hermosa Beach. This ordinance also reinforces existing privacy laws, stating that no person shall operate a drone to record or transmit visual image or audio recording of any person or private property located in the City under circumstances in which the subject person or owner of the subject real property has a reasonable expectation of privacy. It is also stated that drones should not be flown on the grounds of, or less than 350 feet above ground level within the airspace overlaying a public school.

National Parks 

In addition to the local laws listed above, the National Park Service has banned the use of drones in all Golden Gate National Parks in the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn more here.

Take a Drone Flight Training Class in California

UAV Coach offers in-person training in select cities in California. The 90-minute, in-person training class provides hands-on flight time with an instructor, practice with intelligent flight modes, and education on what to do before, during, and after a flight mission to stay compliant and safe. During the class, you’ll also get a chance to ask your questions about regulations, software, flight operations management, checklists and more.

Sign up for an in-person drone flight training class in California.

Want to get a feel for the kind of footage you could get flying a drone in California? Here you go: