Can You Fly a Drone in San Francisco? (And Finest Locations to Fly) –


In case you are a drone fanatic, San Francisco is unquestionably an attractive place to fly your drone. However are you legally allowed to take action? And the place are you able to fly your drone within the metropolis? There are a number of particulars relating to all these questions. 

Flying drones in San Francisco is authorized so long as you observe all FAA and state guidelines and rules. Should you’re flying a drone recreationally, you first have to register your drone with the FAA and full the TRUST take a look at. You possibly can solely fly a drone in San Francisco Metropolis Parks with a allow.

Maintain studying to know native and state drone legal guidelines for San Francisco, and to search out out among the finest locations to fly drones.

Native San Francisco drone legal guidelines

Everybody is aware of that San Francisco has a progressive vibe. Nonetheless, there was loads of confusion on the legality of utilizing drones within the metropolis. One factor that’s sure, nonetheless, with the San Francisco Leisure and Park Division you might find yourself paying a $200 tremendous if you’re caught flying drones in a metropolis park and not using a allow. 

San Francisco has among the finest parks within the nation, so it’s comprehensible that you’d wish to fly your drone in one among them. Sadly for leisure drone pilots, it’s nearly unprecedented to get a allow to fly in a metropolis park. 

If you wish to fly your drone in a metropolis park for industrial functions, you possibly can apply for a allow with the Movie Allow Workplace (hyperlink). 

FAA guidelines state which you can’t fly over giant teams of individuals, inside 5 miles of an airport, or over stadiums and sporting occasions. Whereas this may considerably restrict the place you possibly can fly a drone in San Francisco, it doesn’t imply it’s unimaginable to search out some nice locations to fly.

California State drone legal guidelines

The next drone legal guidelines are a round-up of among the legal guidelines enacted within the state of California. The California State register drafted these guidelines.

  • SB 807//2016: The rule states that if a primary responder destroys a drone that was interfering with them as they have been responding to an emergency, they won’t be answerable for the injury.
  • AB 1680 //2016: You may be charged for misconduct if you intervene with first responders when reacting to emergencies.
  • AB 856// 2015: On this legislation, you aren’t permitted to make use of any plane to take footage or document movies of an individual engaged in a private or familial exercise. The laws was put in place as a result of the press used drones to take footage of public figures and celebrities.
  • AB 2655//2020: first responders are prohibited from utilizing drones in crime scenes except they’ve a sound cause to make use of them and a warrant.
  • California Division of Parks and Laws: you’re prohibited from utilizing drones in state park cultural preserves, nature preserves, or wilderness websites. Due to this fact, be sure to at all times assessment the state park’s rules earlier than you fly your drone there. Word that every Park within the state has its personal guidelines and rules. 
  • PO 925-19-32 //2019: if the Park is a part of Orange Coast District, you can not launch or land drones there. These parks are; Corona Del Mar State Seashore, Crystal Cove State Park, Doheny State Seashore, Huntington State Seashore, San Clemente State Seashore, San Onofre State Seashore, and Bolsa Chica State Seashore.
  • Half 107: Half 107 guidelines apply to those that are flying drones for industrial use. Which means you want a certificates to function your drone and have a industrial drone license.

Federal drone legal guidelines

To familiarize your self with drone legal guidelines that apply all through the US, and in San Francisco as properly, right here’s a fast abstract of the FAA guidelines and rules.

  • Be certain that your drone maintains an altitude of 400 ft or decrease
  • By no means fly your drones close to different plane as a result of they will trigger a crash. Be certain that it isn’t inside 5 miles of any airport with out permission. 
  • Guarantee at all times to provide approach to manned plane and don’t fly it above folks except you’ve gotten authorization.
  • Don’t fly close to the emergency response actions as a result of you possibly can intervene with the motion and grow to be charged for misconduct.
  • Don’t function beneath the affect of medicine or alcohol. 
  • Keep away from flying a drone over stadiums or sporting occasions.
  • Don’t fly a drone carelessly or recklessly.
  • The drone mustn’t have explosives, firearms, or any weapons.

Industrial pilots

In case you are flying your drone for enterprise functions, you could observe the FAA’s 107 Small UAS rule. A piece of this rule says that you’re required to cross the FAA’s aeronautical information take a look at to get a Distant Pilot Certificates. 

After passing this a part of the legislation, additionally, you will have to get a federal Certificates of Authorization if you wish to work with the federal government and fly drones on their behalf. This lets you work within the police or hearth division. The aim of this license is to make sure that the pilot is aware of and follows the set guidelines and rules for industrial use. 

Leisure pilots

Flying drones in San Francisco for leisure functions requires you to observe the FAA’s leisure mannequin plane guidelines. A piece of this rule states that if you wish to fly a drone that weighs over 250 grams or 0.55 lbs., you could pay $5 to get it registered. 

The state doesn’t mean you can fly a drone at heights over 400 ft, or inside 5 miles of an airport. Additionally, be certain that the drone is inside your line of sight always. 

Leisure drone guidelines 

In case you are flying for leisure functions, it means you’re strictly doing it for enjoyable. There are FAA guidelines that govern identical to it does for industrial drone customers. The FAA controls these uncrewed plane as a result of they trigger many security and safety dangers from flying them. 

Right here is an easy assessment of every thing it is advisable to learn about leisure drone rules which can be beneath mannequin plane guidelines;

  • Function your drone for leisure functions solely. You’re prohibited from incomes cash or income from it. It means you need to fly it for enjoyable and hobbies like when you find yourself on trip or flying for enjoyable in a neighborhood park or yard.
  • It’s essential to register your drone with the FAA, the drone should not weigh greater than 0.55lbs.
  • It must be inside your visible line of sight to be able to see the drone always because it flies. Know the place it goes to keep away from inflicting accidents. 
  • Guarantee that you’re complying with the rules set by the group. 

Finest locations to fly drones in San Francisco

There are a lot of guidelines and rules relating to the usage of drones in San Francisco. Nonetheless, that doesn’t imply there will not be some nice locations to fly them. You possibly can simply entry these locations and get footage of among the finest sights in and across the metropolis. 

To clear up any confusion, we talked about earlier that drones will not be allowed in metropolis parks and not using a allow. This listing comprises a bunch of parks, however they’re far sufficient from town correct to not be categorized as metropolis parks. They’re drone pleasant, and drones can be utilized right here with out permits. Simply be aware of different park-goers.

Public Park

Public Park is located between Pier 35 and 39 in San Francisco. This space is a tiny strip of grass known as Public Park. The positioning is probably the most unbelievable place to look at boats, with a marina instantly at its entrance. From Public Park, you may as well see Oakland Bay Bridge and plenty of islands. Launch your drone from right here and it is possible for you to to take footage and document movies of a few of San Francisco’s most iconic skyline.

Blue Park

Blue Park is located close to Yerba Buena Island within the San Francisco Bay space. The island can be connected to Treasure Island, which is synthetic and was designed by the American authorities in 1936. Right here you possibly can benefit from the stunning skyline of town and the encompassing space of the Bay. Blue Park is an superior place to fly as a result of you possibly can concurrently see the Golden Gate Bridge and the Oakland Bay Bridge. 

Since you’re prohibited from flying your drone across the Golden Gate Bridge, you need to reap the benefits of the proximity of this location if you wish to movie the Bridge. On this Park, you’re going to get to view the Golden Gate Bridge, a complete view of the bay space, supplying you with the most effective of every thing.

Richardson AMA Discipline

This mannequin airfield is owned by the PCC flying membership and is situated at Half Moon Bay, California. It’s located instantly throughout the road from the Pacific Ocean shores. Make certain to at all times test the climate situations earlier than heading there, because the proximity to the oceanfront could make climate situations unpredictable. 

The sphere additionally has an enormous runway which is surrounded by an expansive open space. It’s also possible to use your drone to seize quite a few views of the ocean on this location.

Empowerment Park

Empowerment Park is situated within the jap a part of Lake Merritt in Oakland. It’s simply exterior San Francisco and may give you the most effective views of the lake. Empowerment Park is a historic landmark, made well-known with its 126 gentle posts holding up 3400 gentle bulbs to make a superb necklace throughout the park. 

This park additionally has many islands that function wildlife reserves. From right here you possibly can see totally different species of birds all year long. So, be sure to control the birds when flying your drone on this park.

Cesar E. Chavez Park

The Cesar E. Chavez Park stretches out of San Francisco Bay into Berkeley, and measures 90 acres in whole. On this park, you get to seize the most effective views and pictures of the three iconic bridges of San Francisco. It’s also possible to get the most effective backdrop movies and photographs from right here, as a result of the skyline of San Francisco could be seen off within the distance.

Are drones allowed at Golden Gate Park?

Golden Gate Park, the Nationwide Park land surrounding the bottom of the Golden Gate Bridge, doesn’t allow the launch or operation of drones. All Nationwide Parks within the US forbid the usage of drones to be able to shield wildlife, and the pursuits of all park-goers. Sadly, because of this you can not fly your drone wherever within the close to neighborhood of the Golden Gate Bridge.

This doesn’t imply, nonetheless, which you can’t get some nice drone pictures of the bridge. A lot of the places talked about within the part above will get you some nice, though barely extra distant pictures of San Francisco’s most well-known bridge. 

Is it unlawful to fly a drone over the Golden Gate Bridge?

It isn’t authorized to fly a drone over the Golden Gate Bridge for the straightforward cause that the FAA forbids drone pilots to function drones over transferring automobiles. Even for those who have been to launch your drone from a ship to have the ability to get near the bridge (you possibly can’t launch it from the Golden Gate Park, bear in mind?), you’ll nonetheless be breaking the FAA rule by flying over the bridge.

Although the state banned drones at Golden Gate Bridge in 2014, some irresponsible pilots nonetheless fly in restricted areas. A few of these flights, sadly, have ended up with a crash. In response to the experiences, 5 drones have been destroyed on the bridge since 2014. 

Are you able to fly a drone in Muir Woods?

The quick reply to this query is not any. You aren’t allowed to fly drones in Muir Woods. The Nationwide Park Service has management of any flight that takes off and lands on Nationwide Park property, together with Muir Woods.

The NPS regulates greater than 60 rivers, 23 nature trails, many monuments, historic websites, battlefields, seashores, and biking trails. The company banned the usage of drones in Parks in August 2014. In response to 36 CFR 1.5, any plane is prohibited from flying in Nationwide Parks, together with drones and mannequin airplanes.

Why are you restricted from flying a drone in Muir Woods?

In response to the Nationwide Park Service, you’re restricted from flying drones within the woods and nationwide parks as a result of drones pose a hazard to the workers, guests, and wildlife. Drones produce some noise which tends to disrupt the calm expertise guests search once they go to the park.

Word that NPS additionally makes use of drones in restricted areas for supervision actions, and search and rescue actions. Additionally they fly them for hearth security, scientific research, and aerial images. However these makes use of are restricted to Park Personnel, and you can not anticipate to see them in each park as a result of they require approval from the director of the state the place the Park is located.

Penalties for flying a drone in Muir Wooden

Violating restrictions of flying drones within the park can result in a jail time period of as much as six months or a tremendous of $5,000. It’s also possible to get citations from park rangers who’ve the authority to ban any future entry to the park. 

Are you able to fly a drone over Alcatraz?

Alcatraz is part of the Nationwide Park Service, and subsequently, you can not launch, land, or function a drone on it. Flying drones over Alcatraz can be a tremendous alternative to seize aerial images of a stunning and historic location, however sadly, this isn’t allowed. 

The NPS ban includes a ban on launching, touchdown, or working uncrewed plane on each land and water.

The place are you able to fly drones within the Bay Space?

There are a selection of nice locations to fly a drone within the bay space. These locations embrace:

  • Mare Island and Benicia Group Park 
  • Treasure Island 
  • Toll Plaza, situated throughout the bridge on the Oakland facet
  • Vallejo, Benicia, Carquinez Straits, and Martinez. Right here you will see that distinctive pictures of bridges, ships, refineries, over cities, and open nature pictures.

Are you able to fly a drone on Treasure Island, San Francisco?

You possibly can legally fly a drone on Treasure Island in San Francisco. This man-made island that’s a part of Yerba Buena Island within the San Francisco Bay space provides some nice views of the larger San Francisco space.


Adhere to the above drone guidelines and rules to keep away from working into bother with the legislation. We’ve lined every thing it is advisable to know relating to drones in San Francisco, together with native, federal, and state legal guidelines. 

Guarantee that you’re continually checking up on native rules earlier than working your drones to make sure that you’re heading in the right direction and keep away from penalties.