Here are suggestions for Atherton's drone regulations:
All rules should be accompanied by their rationales so that if they no longer make sense, it will be easier to change them. For example, some drones fit in the palm of one's hand, make very little noise and have no cameras. Who knows what current and future devices will not meet the built-in assumptions of drone regulations.
Residents should be free to fly drones over their own properties, but:
1) they should not intentionally violate their neighbors' privacy. This is hard to define, but easy to recognize. A view across the tree tops clearly doesn't, but a zoomed in view of another's home and residents clearly does. Accidental inclusion of neighbors or property should not be published nor shared.
2) Drones can be noisy, so one should not be allowed to have a noisy drone operating many hours per day (e.g. as an airborne surveillance camera) if it is loud enough to bother neighbors. If it's not noisy and it's not spying, then it should be OK.
Residents should seek permission to fly them over other's private property. When drones are flown outside of one's own property, there should be labeling on the bottom of the drone that identifies the owner that would be visible from the ground. It should be made with a label maker with black on white or white on black with a minimum font height of 1/2" and should contain the owner's name and phone #.
If drones are to fly from one property to another, unless permission is obtained to overfly, they should travel over the streets over the correct lane for the direction travelled. Drones that do that are at risk of falling out of the sky for various reasons (including bird strikes), so they must be designed in a way that they would not harm people nor cars upon impact. This would be done by managing the weight, terminal velocity, softness and sharpness of the drone and its cargo. For example: the Parrot drones (as of 2014) are mostly styrofoam and have propeller guards. Owners of drones are fully responsible for the damage that the drones cause to 3rd parties, with the exception that if another party causes the drone to fall, that party would share some or all of the liability for the damage if it can be proven.
Drones flown in public parks must be away from other people (even if the drone got there first) or, if flown around people, must have propeller guards and be sufficiently harmless that it would not harm anyone if it fell.
People are not allowed to discharge firearms inside city limits except in self-defense, and shooting a drone is not self-defense unless it can be proven that the drone was armed and that retreating inside was not an option (unlikely). Drones flying over your property may be "shot down" using other means as long as those means won't harm anyone and comply with all laws. For example directed energy weapons for this have been developed, but they violate FCC rules for civilian use. If projectiles are used, such as sling shots, the user is liable for where the projectiles come down and any harm from the falling drone. Other drones that drop a net or trained birds should be OK if over your own property. Captured drones are not automatically the property of the capturer but should be handed over to the Atherton police who may require that the camera (or other electronic) contents be divulged to determine whether they were lawfully used.
Drones may not be armed with guns or explosives (other than harmless ones such as biodegradable confetti launchers).
The Town of Atherton may use drones in a way that does not comply with all of these guidelines (for example a police drone may overfly properties and photograph/video as needed in pursuit of a criminal).