Anyone who flies a drone above a wildfire zone or jail facility in Santa Clara County can now be charged with a misdemeanor under a new ordinance aimed at stopping drones from interfering with firefighting efforts and dropping contraband on jail grounds, officials announced Thursday.
The county public-outreach campaign comes after Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed SB 1355, a statewide law authored by state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, that outlaws flying a drone above California prisons, jails, juvenile halls, camps and ranches.
The county ordinance, which was adopted in June, goes further than the new law, which deals with violations as infractions subject to a $500 fine. The ordinance entails maximum fines of $1,000, a possible $2,500 nuisance abatement penalty, and potential criminal prosecution.
“It’s common sense. Public safety is first and paramount,” county Supervisor Mike Wasserman said at a news conference Thursday, adding that “there is no place for a drone to be in the way” of firefighting operations.