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.
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.
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."