SACRAMENTO (AP) — California lawmakers on Monday approved a bill that would make it a trespassing violation to fly drones over private property without permission.
The Assembly voted 43-11 on a bill by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara. Her bill creates a trespass crime for operating a drone less than 350 feet above ground over private property without consent.
The bill previously passed the Senate, and it returns there for Assembly amendments.
Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Glendale, who presented Jackson’s bill, said it makes sense to extend property rights upward as drones become more popular.
“If you drive on someone’s property with a car, you’re trespassing. If you’re looking on someone’s property to break in, you’re trespassing. It makes no sense that a drone should be able to look in your window and the operator should not be guilty of the same trespass,” Gatto said.
Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, was among several members who worried the proposal would harm a growing industry and stifle innovation. She said she has a drone manufacturer in her district.
“Don’t regulate an industry out of business,” Grove said.
Other lawmakers suggested the state should wait for federal regulators to develop policies.
Gatto said the bill would not affect businesses because the bill maintains a drone corridor and only targets “people up to no good.”
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