San Jose Vies for FAA Funding to Replace Aircraft Rescue Facility

San Jose is trying to secure federal grants to replace its 58-year-old aircraft rescue and firefighting facility, which has fallen into disrepair. The City Council on Tuesday will decide whether to apply for a slice of $1 billion in discretionary funds that Congress made available in the 2018-19 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) budget.

Timely replacement of the emergency facility at the Mineta San Jose International Airport has been a priority project since 2010, but federal funding to finance the estimated $20 million project is highly competitive.

Money for airport upgrades generally come from taxes and fees paid by airline passengers, which the FAA allocates to airports throughout the U.S. San Jose’s allocation this year only came to $2.3 million, which means the remaining $18 million-or-so to fund the new emergency plan quarters will have to come from discretionary funding.

The FAA’s Bay Area district office urged the city to apply for the grants before next month’s deadline, according to a memo signed by San Jose Aviation Director John Aitken. The planned rescue-and-firefighting facility will occupy up to 16,000 square feet on the eastern side of the airport and include a larger training area, additional sleeping quarters and six vehicle bays. It would be larger overall and meet the latest FAA standards for accessibility as well as building, earthquake and fire safety.

To save money, San Jose plans to use a design-build arrangement, which means a single general contractor will oversee both planning and construction phases of the project.

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for August 28, 2018:

  • San Jose’s Housing Department plans to update its underwriting guidelines for below-market-rate apartment projects for the first time in a dozen years. The guidelines help developers. Borrowers and lenders better evaluate risks and rewards for future developments. “It is the goal of the Housing Department to provide greater clarity and consistency in the negotiation of transactions,” department head Jacky Morales-Ferrand wrote in a memo to the council. “The underwriting guidelines will help to accomplish this goal and potentially reduce the necessary to underwrite an affordable housing development.”
  • Councilors will consider rezoning a fraction of a 21-acre site in south San Jose to make way for a 248-bed convalescent home. The facility would take up about three acres at 2400 Dove Hill Road, according to project applicant Sal Caruso, and the rest would remain permanent open space.
  • The council will adjourn the meeting in memory of Thomas Labon Davis, a Santa Clara County firefighter-turned-San Jose fire engineer who died on June 23 at the age of 76.

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

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