Closing Reid-Hillview Airport would be expensive, complex

August 8, 2008

Even thoughts of closing California’s Reid-Hillview Airport are expensive. If Santa Clara County officials haven’t realized that yet, they’ve got a lot to learn.

Like other California counties, Santa Clara is under budget constraints, and some officials are eyeing the airport real estate.

The board of supervisors on Aug. 12 voted 4 to 1 to accept a report from the county counsel about the legal options relating to the airport. As AOPA pointed out in a letter to the board, the only real option is to keep the airport open.

AOPA analyzed the counsel’s memo and found some of the data incomplete, misleading, or inaccurate. One statement AOPA does agree with is the counsel’s conclusion: “Should the Board determine that it wishes to pursue the sale or lease of the Reid-Hillview Airport, the legal procedures would be extremely complex and lengthy.”

Among other things, the airport is under federal grant assurances to keep the airport open in perpetuity. Only under extremely rare circumstances does the FAA grant an exception, and Reid-Hillview would have to meet the criteria, which it doesn’t.

“The FAA has gone to great lengths to defend airports like Reid-Hillview Airport at all costs—especially when the airport is as important to the transportation system as Reid-Hillview,” wrote Bill Dunn, AOPA vice president of local airport advocacy. “The agency has indicated to us that they are prepared to take any and all action necessary to ensure that the airport continues to be operated as a publicly owned, public-use airport.”

Dunn also said that AOPA is committed to taking whatever action is deemed necessary to ensure Reid-Hillview’s future as an airport.