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Santa Clara business plan may call for airport closureSanta Clara business plan may call for airport closure

As a general aviation reliever to California’s Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, Reid-Hillview of Santa Clara County Airport sits on the eastern side of the Bay Area city. Home to many small businesses and more than 130 aircraft, the airport is a critical asset for its surrounding community and home to San Jose State University’s aviation program. But recent discussions about the county’s new business plan may leave it without an airport.

Photo by Mike Fizer

Instead, Santa Clara County is considering three options in a plan to potentially develop the airport’s land into “affordable housing,” stating that the county lacks resources for low-income residents. On behalf of more than 34,000 members in California, AOPA sent a Nov. 30 letter opposing the plan and instead urged the county Board of Supervisors to accept much-needed FAA Airport Improvement Program funds for airport maintenance and development. The board was scheduled to meet on Dec. 4.

As it currently stands, FAA grant obligations linked to capital improvements will not expire until 2031, making any attempt to develop the airport land void for 12 years. AOPA’s letter suggested that if the county were serious about affordable housing in the area, progress should be made now, not when it gets worse further down the line in 12 years.

Since the 1930s, numerous small businesses and professionals have relied on Reid-Hillview Airport. Today, the county manages 45 hangars, 52 shelters, and 173 open tie-downs on the field. As a designated reliever airport, Reid-Hillview is an attractive alternative for GA operations near Silicon Valley and downtown San Jose. “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,” according to the letter.

Additionally, the airport has been home base for San Jose State University’s Aviation department since 2010. The program is the largest on the West Coast with more than 300 students, and it’s the only university in the California state system that offers a complete aviation curriculum including flight, technician, and operations training. Speaking to a local news outlet, Craig Hofstetter, former professor in the University’s Department of Aviation and Technology, said, “If Reid-Hillview closed, we wouldn’t have anywhere to go."

Amelia Walsh

Communications Coordinator
AOPA Communications Coordinator Amelia Walsh joined AOPA in 2017. Named after the famous aviatrix, she comes from a family of pilots and is currently working on her pilot certificate.
Topics: Advocacy, Airport Advocacy, Airport

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