County Vote Forecasts Airport Closure

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Image: Ian Kluft - CC BY-SA 4.0

Image: Ian Kluft - CC BY-SA 4.0

The path is now clear for the proposed closure of San Jose, California’s Reid-Hillview airport (RHV) after a 3-2 vote by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday against accepting further FAA Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds. In addition to being a designated reliever airport for San Jose International Airport (SJC), RHV is also home to San Jose State University’s Aviation Department flight operations and numerous aviation businesses. Owing to grant obligations associated with previously accepted AIP funding, the airport must be kept open until 2031.

One option being proposed involves the “consolidation” of RHV operations to San Martin (E16), the other airport operated by the county. AOPA weighed in on the proposal before Tuesday’s vote in a letter (PDF) that strongly opposed the relocation of RHV operations and the closure of the airport. The organization called RHV “a viable and important community asset,” warning that “the loss of RHV would move a significant number of the 160,000 operations to SJC likely causing additional congestion and delays in airline operations at SJC.”

In a report relating to Santa Clara County’s Airport Business Plan Update, the county notes lead emissions as a reason to consider closing RHV, citing a 2008 study by the EPA that ranked the airport 25th out of 3,414 airport facilities across the country for the amount of lead emitted annually. It has also been suggested that the airport land could be used to address the county’s need for affordable housing. Other community concerns noted include aircraft noise and plane crashes.