East San Jose Residents Urge Santa Clara County Supervisors to Close Reid-Hillview Airport

The Mineta San Jose International Airport recently earned the distinction from the American City Business Journals of being the best-run airport in the nation. Small local counterpart Reid-Hillview Airport, on the other hand, has been deemed a danger, money-suck and nuisance by a number of East Side residents who want to shut it down.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, which oversees the aging San Jose facility, will vote today on the Reid-Hillview Airport business plan. The county’s aim is to either come up with new ideas about how to generate revenue from the aging facility, whether that means leasing space to new restaurants and shops, or shutting it down entirely.

When it was built in 1939, the Reid-Hillview Airport was surrounded by rural pastures. But the city around it has since grown into the 10th largest in the U.S. Today, it’s surrounded by largely low-income neighborhoods of aging single-family homes.

Meanwhile, plane traffic at the facility has dropped off over the years. And grant money has dried up since 2011 because of a dispute between the county and the Federal Aviation Administration. Residents who’ve been circulating a Change.org petition advocating for Reid-Hillview’s closure plan to show up to today’s hearing to convince supervisors to phase it out or consolidate it with the airport in San Martin.

“One airport in our city boundary is enough,” San Jose resident Kelly Snider wrote on the Change.org petition. “This county land [can be] put to better use,” another petitioner, Marci Gerston, wrote. “It’s time to close the airport!”

Community groups Somos Mayfair and PACT are organizing a group of residents to speak at the board meeting today about safety and nuisance issues from Reid-Hillview, where pilots have been responsible for several crashes that have occurred in neighborhoods and close proximity to 16 schools.

Jaime Alvarado, a 60-year San Jose resident, said he and his neighbors have had to adapt to the plane crashes and noise pollution and live with the reality of lead contamination from the aircraft. Like many of his neighbors, he’d like to see the county convert the 180-acre site to affordable housing, schools, job centers and public parks.

Reid-Hillview supporters, however, say the facility is a valuable asset, housing the San Jose State aviation training and, in event of emergency, Cal Fire and the Civil Air Patrol. And a group of people who want it to remain open have started a petition of their own.

Alvarado said there’s a sense that the county has prioritized the needs of pilots over the demands of the airport’s neighbors. In an effort to improve community relations, some pilots have offered local families free plane rides. But Alvarado said a lot of folks viewed that as more of an attempt to silence critics than address their legitimate concerns.

“The county has never really engaged in dialogue with the community to explain why it is so important to the county to keep operating the airport, that demonstrates total arrogance and disregard for residents,” said Alvarado, his voice rising. “Can you even imagine the county trying to operate an airport in the neighborhoods west of San Jose, Cupertino or Saratoga? But here, on the East Side, they ignore the concerns of people.”

The vote takes place at 1pm today. Click here to watch the live stream.

20 Comments

    • > Please go to this link to read about cited evidence why the airport is a vital asset to the community and most notably the students of SJSU Aviation.

      I’m in.

      Signed the petition.

      Reid Hillview really is an asset to the community. Maybe SOME members of the community don’t realize it, but MANY do.

    • I signed. Nothing pisses me off more than people who move next to an airport that has been there for decades and complains about it.

  1. Save the airport.
    Get rid of the “low-income” neighborhoods and aging homes that cannot be salvaged.
    Gentrification of this area will increase tax revenue.
    SJSU Aviation and the Civil Air Patrol are necessary institutions.
    Crime ridden, low-income slums in D7 need to be gone.

    David S. Wall

    • Crime-ridden slums? Wow, try visiting an actual slum sometimes before you use that word. And crime is still lower in San Jose than virtually all other large US metro areas.

      • LMAO Ostrich syndrome much? Meanwhile another gang homicide last night. Yet around Hillview park I commonly see motorhomes lining the streets at which several are leaking feces and urine into the gutter. Bicycles and old batteries everywhere next to fences with gang scrawling…. Keep believing the safe city BS You need to get out more… Maybe if theres no rain this weekend we can catch some sideshows on 101.

  2. When I was a R.E. Broker I sold a house under the airport’s flight path to a guy I knew. He really wanted that house. I made sure he signed a disclosure stating that he knew about the airport and the concomitant noise, pollution, traffic, etc. I also had several talks with him, in which I mentioned those things again. I asked him if he was sure he wanted to live so close to the airport.

    But like lots of home buyers, he was blinded by his emotion. All he could think of was the house — the airport was a distant concern. Well, you can guess what happened.

    Within about six months he was complaining about the noise. Then about the pollution (how is that any different from living close to the airport, but maybe a half mile farther downwind?) He complained about it constantly, and he finally announced that he was gonna find a lawyer. So I very *tactfully* tried to explain the disclosure he’d signed.

    Well, that pretty much ended our casual friendship. But that’s the kinda guy he was, going from one extreme to another; from love to hate. And every time I hear about the folks who get upset over the airport, I think about my erstwhile pal.

    That airport has been there a lot longer than any homeowner there has been alive. They all moved in knowing the score. No one cheated them. But now they want to use the power of government to stick it to the people who use the airport. Seems pretty selfish to me, like it’s their world; everyone else just lives in it.

    They’re not much different from the very small minority of bicycle commuters who have managed to stick it to the tens of thousands of commuters who lost half their car lanes to a handful of bicycle riders.

    Where does it all end?

    With a dictatorship, I suppose. Then we all lose, or 97% of us, anyway — and don’t kid yourself, none of us here is gonna be in that special 3%…

    • Boy what a sour grapes you turned out to be. You almost had me agreeing with you on the airport being there first and people buying houses with full knowledge of the noise. But then you had to make that stupid comment about cyclists being a minority in contrast with car drivers. What is this? Dictatorship by the majority? The point is that everyone benefits if there are fewer cars and more bikes on the road. Bike lanes make cycle commuting possible and safe. Did it bother you when electric lights replaced gas lights as well?

      • I don’t feel I (nor my family & friends) benefit from there being more bikes on the road. In fact I am very put out by it and wish there were not so many. Let them use the sidewalk, no one walks anymore anyway.

      • IGOR
        It bothered me when toxic mercury filled “compact florescent bulbs” replaced the incandescent bulbs. Most of the lead dust came from the pant in that slum that should never have been built there in the first place. Now lets put a road tax on those bikes that have taken over half the road and represent 0.6% of the commute traffic.
        Do I here a yes vote?

      • Hi Igor! So, you approve of half our traffic lanes being changed to bicycle-only lanes? Have you noticed that drivers outnumber bicycle riders by at least 100 : 1, and probably more like 400 : 1?

        That’s not “dictatorship by the majority,” it’s dictatorship by a very tiny minority — which is totally anti-American.

        As far as safety is concerned, there have been more accidents since the self-serving “road diets” were started than there were before.

        Roads were built for motor vehicles, not for bicycles. But drivers graciously agreed that bicyclists could use the roads built for cars. This is the thanks drivers get.

        Stingy bicyclists won’t even agree to pay a reasonable fee for the use of motor vehicle roads. I know: when I suggested that peddlers should get bicycle licenses, and pay half the annual registration fee based on the average car registration, I was attacked like I was suggesting they give up their firstborn children.

        Can you say, E-N-T-I-T-L-E-D? I knew you could…

  3. I have a better idea, let’s shut down Mineta San Jose, For 45 years I’ve had to listen to those DAMN jets roaring over my house from 6:35 am till as late as 11;00 pm. You rich bitch high-tech ass hole’s can trolley your buts up to Oakland or SFO on the worlds best public transit system SCVT and BART. There now I have solved another one of your
    “not-a-problems”, and now I can jack up the price of my house another 30%.

  4. > Jaime Alvarado, a 60-year San Jose resident, said he and his neighbors have had to adapt to the plane crashes and noise pollution and live with the reality of lead contamination from the aircraft. Like many of his neighbors, he’d like to see the county convert the 180-acre site to affordable housing, schools, job centers and public parks.

    Jaime is one selfish son of a gun.

    I would like to see county condemn the 180-acre site across the street from my house and turn it into a top tier golf course and a future site for the Donald Trump Presidential Library.

  5. There is a huge land parcel the other side of raging waters prime for development to help solve density issues. Shutting down this airport would take away from the 10th largest city for youth interest in Aviation, University needs, Pilot training, and emergency needs (Cal Fire and Civil Air Patrol). With SJC becoming a major international airport (pushing out small planes), keep Reid Hillview airport for the greater good of the community.

Leave a Reply