Julian California Residents Voice Their Opposition To Drone Testing

Julian California residents voice their opposition to drone testing

Residents of San Diego county are justifiably concerned that new drone technology will soon be tested over their homes and schools. The area has recently been approved as an official FAA drone testing site. The people of Julian, California, in San Diego Countypacked a crowded forum on the test site hosted by Back Country Voices. The event brought together a meeting of the minds to brainstorm ways to hold their local government accountable for brokering this deal with the FAA.

Their concerns went beyond mere privacy concerns. What happens if a drone crashes and starts a fire? Who will be responsible? Will weapons be tested? How will local airspace be shared? Primary among the citizen’s concerns were the threats to privacy posed by the testing program.

drone mtg Ashleigh and John

The FAA has put forward its Final Privacy Requirements that will govern independent subcontractors testing drone surveillance technology over the area. While the privacy requirements do restrict the amount of data collected and retained by subcontractors, it specifically provides in Article 3(b) that “applicable law” will control. Since currently applicable law has, to date, failed to address the constitutionality of federal data collection, the possibility of constitutional overreaches remains.

Perhaps more disturbing is the fact § 10 of the Supplementary Portion of the report establishes that the FAA will not oversee compliance with their own privacy rules. Instead, they will rely on the independent subcontractors to hold themselves accountable. The contractors are then expected to make public the results of their self imposed audit, but obviously this report will only go as far as the subcontractors scruples. With public access to the private actions of corporations engaged in drone research restricted by inadequate disclosure requirements, absent a whistleblower, the privacy regulations are functionally toothless.

drone meeting Julian

The room at the Julian Library begins to fill to capacity

Bill of Rights Defense Committee | BORDC Legal Fellow Matthew Kellegrew was in attendance to talk about what drone surveillance means for those concerned with 4th Amendment protections and what people can do from a grass roots level. Drone regulation in particular presents an excellent example of how local coalitions and organizing can have an impact on a national issue. The meeting culminated in a lively back-and-forth about the nature of trans-partisan organizing, innovative approaches to privacy threats and how creative challenges to NSA spying can be used as a model to fight the proliferation of drones from the local level.

Julian drone panel

Drone panel: Dave, Mathew, and Bill.

The group conversation made clear that business-as-usual politics will not be effective in stemming the privacy threats of emergent technologies presented by drone use. The intergenerational discourse had at the meeting highlighted the creativity that can result when people of divergent viewpoints and experiences put their heads together. Older members of the gathering made the connection between the domestic development of drones as the inheritor of the bloody legacy of drones used against children and civilians in the middle east.  One high school student in attendance brilliantly postulated that the city might set out standards that would guarantee a tort cause of action for civilians harmed by drone testing that specifically identified their potential impact on mental illness.

Lisa Elkins addresses important statistics on drones and how to share concerns with local and state officials.

Lisa Elkins of Back Country Voices, encourages attendees to sign the petition created by the group and how San Diego County citizens can voice their concerns to State and local officials.

Local meetings like the one held in Julian hosted by the Back Country Voices are essential for developing the types of dynamic actions that will result in comprehensive, constitutionally sound drone regulation. Without a discourse that crosses many spectrum’s and incorporates political, racial, generational and community diversity, the movement towards a restoration of the Bill of Rights could be doomed to spin its wheels in the same malaise of inaction that has gotten us in this mess in the first place.

The citizens of Julian remind us all that no matter how big or small your town is, we all have a crucial role to play in keeping the government accountable to the constitution.

drone mtg with Mathew

“I would say a person who feels that they have nothing to hide right now is not thinking ahead of the game in terms of what kind of technologies are going to come forward,” said Legal Fellow Matthew Kellegrew in an interview with San Diego Fox 5 television on drones. ” This is something that people can have a say in because it is so new. Really, we can’t wait for the courts to catch up. People have to advocate for themselves.”


CAL UAS area map where drones will occupy our county if chosen as a national testing site.


Residents of San Diego were given very little information and notice about this proposal. There were no public forums, no opportunities for public input, nor any venue to voice concerns regarding what’s at stake for testing drones in our county.

In response to questions and concerns about domestic drones, ‘BCV’ has invited members of the FAA, ACLU, the Cal UAS Portal team, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, law enforcement, S.D. Veterans for Peace Foundation, State and local officials, Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), environmentalist, pilots, firefighters, and others.

‘Back Country Voiceshas scheduled an additional public outreach and education meeting to address drone testing in the back country.

Informed citizens are truly the strength of a democracy.

Please join us and share your voice!

Town Hall Meeting: Dec. 4th, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the Julian Town Hall/Julian Chamber of Commerce. 2129 Main Street, Julian, CA. 92036 

Back Country Voices  Website


Back Country Voices’ Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/170624526472012/

You can also follow us on Twitter


Back Country Voices Email: backcountryvoices@gmail.com

More photos:

drone mtg Bill

William ‘Bill’ Everett

Dave drone mtg

Dave Patterson | San Diego Veterans for Peace

John Raifsnider (Skyword Astrology Adventures)

John Raifsnider (Skyword Astrology Adventures)


People’s Blog for the Constitution » Julian California residents voice

3-501. PRESENTMENT. – Legal Information Institute: an agreement of the parties, or other applicable law or rule.

State Law in California affecting Local Codes & Ordinances



6 thoughts on “Julian California Residents Voice Their Opposition To Drone Testing

  1. Pingback: Facial recognition, once a battlefield tool, lands in San Diego County | Back Country Voices

  2. Reblogged this on lisaleaks and commented:
    Their concerns went beyond mere privacy concerns. What happens if a drone crashes and starts a fire? Who will be responsible? Will weapons be tested? How will local airspace be shared? Primary among the citizen’s concerns were the threats to privacy posed by the testing program.


  3. Pingback: Potential Drone Test Site Spurs Concerns In San Diego Back Country | Back Country Voices

  4. Pingback: Julian Residents Voice Concern about Drone Testing | Back Country Voices

  5. Pingback: Leery drone-zone denizens convene in Julian | Back Country Voices

  6. Pingback: San Diego’s Second Chance at Drone Domination | Back Country Voices

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