Tampa condos consider drone ban

Posted at 7:50 PM, Feb 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-23 07:21:02-05

Two Tampa condo towers are trying to ban people from using drones on their property

The devices can capture incredible video, but management at Skypoint and Element in downtown Tampa also call them a privacy risk. And that only scratches the surface of the concerns.

On a beautiful day, you can spot a lot of people enjoying the outdoors in downtown Tampa, and you will probably also see a lot of drones up in the air.

"Out in the park especially you'll see kids and their parents flying their drones around," said Scott Brady, Skypoint resident.

While there have been no major concerns yet, Skypoint and Element condo towers just sent a letter to residents asking how they feel about potentially banning the devices on their property.

Some residents say they're glad buildings are taking a look at this issue because as high as drones can go with tiny cameras attached, there's no telling what kind of images they could be capturing.

"You know living in a high rise apartment, you're always worried about privacy as it is with the windows and everything. So now with the added layer of drones today, I think it adds a complication of maintaining your privacy in a building such as this. So yeah, I think it is a major concern for us," Brady said.

Former military drone pilot and professor Dean Bushey says the lack of strong regulations surrounding drone use near big buildings is definitely a concern.

"When you fly them up in the air, there's obviously other airplanes, but then if you fly them close to people or structures, then you're putting a lot of people at risk and you're going outside the bounds of recreational use," said Bushey, assistant professor of computer science at Florida Polytechnic University.

In a statement to ABC Action News, the FAA said, "Property owners may prohibit unmanned aircraft operators from taking off from or landing on their property. The FAA is solely responsible for the regulation and safety of the national airspace system."

That leaves a bit of a gray area in what happens once the drone lifts off. Bushey hopes it doesn't take a major accident to get better drone regulations on the books to protect everyone.

"There's got to be play between the state and federal government. There's a risk out there not only to public safety but public interest," said Bushey.