Unexpected Support for the Plan to Sell Hayes Mansion

Last week, I got a mailer from the No on V campaign railing against the decisions of past city councils about spending on the Hayes Mansion.  I was elated! I felt validated in my support for selling the Hayes Mansion to stop the annual bleeding of millions of dollars. I wrote about selling the Hayes Mansion two years ago on the Council and on this blog.

I remember sitting through many long speeches from my former colleague Forrest Williams who touted that money spent on this hotel and conference center instead of spending the money on police and libraries was appropriate.  So, I wonder why are the people who support the No on V campaign endorsing Forest Williams, who was biggest proponent of the Hayes Mansion, in his supervisorial race?

I am thankful that the Hayes Mansion and its $4 million a year subsidy is being brought to light to all the voters of San Jose. However, it’s dwarfed by the $52 million taxpayers had to pay just for the pension loss last fiscal year. I can’t help but wonder where everyone was when I spoke about selling the Hayes Mansion in the past? Where was everyone when the vote was taken for taxpayer subsidized golf courses and when income-producing land was converted from industrial to housing?

It was also interesting that this mailer cited—almost as gospel—the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury Report titled “Money-Losing Hayes Mansion: A San Jose City Council Responsibility.” Apparently, this campaign supports the Civil Grand Jury as a trusted and reliable source. So perhaps they would then agree with other Civil Grand Jury Reports, such as: “Cities must rein in unsustainable employee costs” or “City of San Jose Hosed by IAFF Local 230 Executives” or “Los Lagos Golf Course—San Jose’s Financial Sand Trap.”

It is difficult for policy makers and interest groups to be consistent and this to me is an example of being inconsistent.

Here are the Civil Grand Jury Reports mentioned above:
Grand Jury report on Hayes Mansion.
Grand Jury report: Cities Must Rein in Unsustainable Employee Costs
Grand Jury report: City of San Jose Hosed by IAFF Local 230 Executives.
Grand Jury report: Los Lagos Golf Course—San Jose’s Financial Sand Trap.



  1. I don’t have much faith in campaign flyers. I remember getting a flyer from this candidate, Pierluigi Oliverio, with a picture of him and his lovely wife and family. Turns out this picture was taken just for the campaign flyer and it wasn’t really his family as he wasn’t married and had no kids. These campaign flyers can be awfully misleading.

    Also, I think we should just replace the city council with the grand jury, since they have done such a great job, for free.

    • Baby kissing is a practice where politicians kiss babies in order to garner public support. The practice appears to have originated during the era of Jacksonian democracy along with other techniques such as “banners, badges, parades, barbecues, free drinks and baby kissing which were used in an effort to ‘get out the vote’.

      Easier to attack the messenger then the actual problems facing the city.

  2. San Jose has caused it own Budget Deficit by poor Council policies, city government mismanagement, hiding financial problems from public and Council voting for

    1) 100’s millions tax subsidies over last 10 years for golf courses, non profits, museums, mansions, museums , downtown events, developers and corporations

    2) deferring 3-4 billion in essential city repairs to streets, sewers , buildings etc

    3) incurring 3-5 billion in increased ( excessive ) employee pay, pension and benefits obligations

    4) increasing 3-4 billion city and RDA bond debt to pay for City Hall, police / fire stations and ocmmunity centers, and increased cost current city services which is paid out of city taxes

    5) it was well known San Jose taxes revenues have been declining due to losing businesses and jobs to other cities / states but spending and borrowing increased

    San Jose has spent 6-8 billion beyond it ability to pay for over 10 years due to gross city government mismanagement, unwillingness to be honest and accountable to public and taxpayers

  3. The Asset Management Study is a great idea! Other City assets that should be included are:
    1. San Jose International Airport
    2. City and Redevelopment Agency owned parking facilities
    3. Retail commercial space owned by the Redevelopment Agency
    How often does it have to be proven that Government entities are very inefficient operators of anything that resembles a business enterprise.
    All of the above assets could be sold or leased to private enterprises which would produce a much greater return on investment to the City

  4. One more waste of potential money is the county airport, Reid-Hillview, in East San Jose.  Out of a county population of 1,700,000, there are 3,475 Santa Clara county residents with a pilot license, and only a portion of them use the Reid-Hillview airport. [1] 

    Reid-Hillview is 180 acres of land that can be used in a much more productive manner that will improve East San Jose, San Jose, and Santa Clara County. 

    [1] 3,475 total as of 10/1/10

    578 student pilots – some of these are your RHV pilots
    20 sport pilots
    1 recreational pilot
    1,852 private pilots – some of these are your RHV pilots
    640 commercial pilots
    384 air transport pilots


    Just as a side-note.  In regard to the student pilots above, there is a minimum 70% to 80% dropout rate with student pilots.


    • Reid-Hillview is a county airport.  Neither PL nor any other council member has any authority over it in any way.

      I don’t have a pilots license, but I am working on one.  I’ve taken classes at RH and SJO and unless you’ve done the same, without a doubt RH is a much more comfortable airport to conduct small plane business at. 

      It was there before the houses (this argument is always thrown in there)

      One thing that you might not know, RH is completely self sufficient.  It was built on property granted to the county for this specific purpose. It costs us $0 to maintain it.  It provides a little bit of tax.  It’s a historical flight museum (Montgomery Hill gliders are on display there) 

      I’ve taken my family out there for the air show days as well.  SJO doesn’t have air shows.  It’s gotten my 4 year old daughter into flight and who knows where that will lead her?  The inspiration to the sciences of flight are possible only through a small, recreational airport like this one. 

      There about the same amount of land, in the same area, doing absolutely nothing right now. The old Pleasant Hills golf course.  Right up the street on Tully and White.  Wouldn’t you agree that it would be a far better idea to change the use of land being used for nothing, than to change the use of a functional recreational airport?

      • If we were in the midst of some late 1990s-era economic boom, I could see a valid argument against Reed-Hillview (although I wouldn’t agree with it), but the last thing this valley needs is more suburban tract housing…which is all that will get built there.  I don’t think any new industrial employers are begging to get their hands on that land.  Would we rather keep the airport for our local pilots (and their families, friends & clients), or just present it as a gift for real estate developers, so they can crowd this valley and its roads still further?

        I lived practically right next to Reed-Hillview for about two years in the late 90s, and I was never bothered by being in its proximity.  Every now and then, I’d see a shadow of a small plane zip across the lawn of our backyard, and it was actually kinda neat, not a “problem.”  It was right around that time that Blanca Alvarado said that we should get rid of Reed-Hillview, due to the fact that the overwhelming majority of private pilots were White males, and so its continued existence presented a sort of racist burden on the diverse population of East San Jose.  I note that strictly for comic relief.

  5. It’s gotten my 4 year old daughter into flight and who knows where that will lead her?  The inspiration to the sciences of flight are possible only through a small, recreational airport like this one.

    Good point.  Reid-Hillview has been inspiring the children of East San Jose every day of the year for over 40 years.  Just look at all the airline pilots, astronauts, engineers, scientists, doctors, lawyers, and other professionals that were East San Jose children who benefited from all that daily inspiration.

    No wonder the rest of the county is envious of East San Jose.  Maybe we should build a children inspiring recreational airport in the middle of every neighborhood.  Then they can all be like East San Jose.

    • I thought you were being serious at first, but then I realized your comment was laced with sarcasm.

      Maybe we should build a children inspiring recreational airport in the middle of every neighborhood.

      You have it backwards.  RH was there first. The neighborhoods came later. 

      Look, there are plenty of wasteful things the city COULD focus on that is within it’s scope.  Again, RH is not in their scope of influence.  It’s like asking the Pope to perform a Mitzvah. 

      You want to go after something?  How about this… Why are we paying to keep the lights on at the old city hall building DURING THE DAY?  Why are we running the AC for an EMPTY BUILDING? 

      I’m not exactly sure the entire square footage of that building is, but I know from my experience in IT and working closely with the COO of a few companies in similar sized buildings, we’re probably burning $10-$20k @ month there.

      Meh, what am I even wasting my time telling you this for.  You’re a typical nimby living near quimby.

  6. Why are the people who are supporting the No on V campaign endorsing Forrest Williams?
    For the same reason that they got uptight about a perfectly appropriate use of the word “slavish”. Because they’re enlightened PC liberals and he’s black.
    I know it doesn’t make any sense but it’s as simple as that. So just accept it, move on, and do what you know is right.

  7. Is $2 million dollars city grants a good use city taxes ? 

    Most of Cultural Affairs grants goes to money losing since few want to go there downtown except non profits executives who get big salaries

    Why is San Jose with 10 years budget deficits funding money losing ” wide array of arts and cultural opportunities” and feels it has ” obligation to ensure that San Jose is an effective hub of a wide array of arts and cultural opportunities throughout Silicon Valley. ”
    that benefits other tax rich Silicon Valley cities who give nothing to San Jose ?

    San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs – http://www.sanjoseculture.org/

    ” The Office of Cultural Affairs is the City of San Jose’s lead agency for supporting and promoting the development of a rich arts and cultural environment for this diverse city’s nearly one million residents, its workers who live in neighboring communities, and its many visitors.

    The City recognizes that arts and culture are essential elements in the character and quality of life in a vibrant community.

    As the largest city in northern California and the capital of Silicon Valley, City Government has a special opportunity and——-  obligation to ensure that San Jose is an effective hub of a wide array of arts and cultural opportunities throughout Silicon Valley. ”

    • Investing in the arts is that… an investment. Public investment leverages private investment. The arts sector is a big economic generator and employer. The nonprofit arts sector employs over 2,350 jobs, has a total economic impact of over $103,000,000 and returns $3.335 million in annually back to the city. That is a pretty good return on investment. (Better than my ING or B of A accounts these days.)  The arts mean business and are a bang for the city’s buck. Don’t forget the community benefits as well. Don’t let a few Merc articles highlighting the challenges in the arts sector influence you.  The sector has many healthy, well managed arts organizations.
      Check it out at http://www.sanjoseculture.org/downloads/SJ_ArtsEconReport_Summary.pdf

      Arts investments generate economic impact. It is a fact.  It makes “cents”.

  8. I’ll take the Hayes Mansion off the city’s hands for $1.00

    The move would save 4 million dollars that could be immediately applied to pensions, library hours, firefigher salaries or whatever priorities are judged best by the council.

    The Hayes Mansion would make a nice transitional housing center for homeless folks and be tied into vocational and work therapy programs. 

    We could rip up some of the landscaping and start organic gardening.  Lots of possibilities.  Maybe we could offer dorm style housing for Conservation Core, City Year and other non-profits and leverage the unaffordable luxury into a huge asset for the community. 

    Not only keeping up the facility and growing food but going out each day to work on maintenance projects at city parks and schools.  As part of the co-op farm we could offer weekly flea market/ farmers markets for the neighbors to enjoy. 

    I’d love to see about taking it off the grid also using as much alternative power as possible (solar, wind, etc.)  Maybe we could partner with a local university and use Engineering and Environmental Studies students to plan and implement.  Let’s rename the whole thing the Frank Schiavo Mansion in honor of the SJ environmental pioneer who turned his tract home into a sustainable house 25+ years ago and fought the city for years over his garbage fees when he generated zero curbside waste.

    If it works with the Mansion, maybe we could bid on doing the same thing with one of the golf courses.

  9. Hello,

    I received word that my favorite subject, Reid-Hillview, is being discussed on SJI, so I thought I would add a few comments.

    First, Robert Cortese is correct.  RHV is a county facility, not a San Jose facility.  However, that does not mean that the city cannot use its resources to request the county to close the facility, or at least stop the lead pollution from RHV.

    However, Mr. Cortese is wrong about Reid-Hillview being “there first”.  It is true the 60 acre Hillview airport was there first, but the 180 acre RHV airport was built in the mid-to-late 1960s in the middle of East San Jose.  East San Jose was built during the 1950s.

    Santa Clara county purchased the 60 acre Hillview airport from the Reid brothers in 1962, and people immediately started complaining about the county’s plan to build an airport in the middle of a residential neighborhood.  From the San Jose News in 1962, “Reid’s Hillview Airport, once an isolated Eastside airstrip for light planes, now is nearly ringed by schools, school sites and subdivisions.”.  This is years before the county built Reid-Hillview.


    That brings me to Gil Hernandez’s comment regarding lead pollution from RHV.  Mr. Hernandez is correct about lead pollution from RHV.  The EPA is currently in the process of determining whether to eliminate lead from general aviation aircraft fuel.  GA fuel contains 2.12 grams of lead (4 times the amount of lead that used to be in car fuel), and 95% of the lead is emitted in the exhaust.  The EPA states general aviation is the single largest source of airborne lead pollution in the United States, and ranks RHV as the 25th highest lead polluting airport out of 3,414 general aviation airports in the U.S.

    As we all know, inhaled airborne lead is absorbed into the blood, and any amount of lead in the blood of a child can result in some degree of brain damage (IQ loss).  Also, lead in the blood has been linked to aggressive, anti-social behavior in children and adults.

    Along the same line, on April 6 2010, the Santa Clara Airport Commission defeated a proposal to require 3rd party groups using county airports for public events to provide Proposition 65 warnings to members of the public attending these events.  Proposition 65 requires the public to be informed if they will be exposed to any chemical known to cause cancer, and/or birth defects.  Lead is listed in both categories.

    If anyone has any questions about RHV please refer to
    http://www.reidhillview.com/#lead  for lead information, and to

    http://www.reidhillview.com/rhv_history.htm  for RHV history, and to

    http://www.reidhillview.com/  for general RHV information.

    EPA proposal for regulating lead in general aviation aircraft fuel.

    Thank you.

    • Bud, I appreciate your knowledge and concern about lead expoursure, in and around local airports. The Mercury was driven to pronounce the lead levels at several small airports .but simply touched on the levels of lead exhaust. They did not quality the times that this tests were taken.
      I am posting because those that are concerned , NOW, may have a resourse to contact, for answers, about children’s high blood lead levels. I am always available. I can be found here at San Jose Inside.
        20 years ago we screamed about the horrific effects of lead in babies, and the conciquences of what would happen to these children when they reached their teens, and their paths would be guided to co-mingling which would result as gangs.
      Our City Council and other followers, are more focused on baseball ! The Hell with our children!
      We created our own gang problem. We are in a suppressive state. Sickening isn’t it!
        Gil Hernandez
      The Village Black Smith

      • We have touched on airbourne lead. Anyone willing to have the surface dirt in any house under the flight path of Reed Hillview Airport tested for these chemicals, especially LEAD!
          Bud, who’s responsibility at the County to do just this! That would be very interesting to see the results!
        The Village Black Smith

  10. Robert Cortese,
      Have you had your daughter tested for the lead level in her blood stream? At 4 years of age her brain has not developed fully. she has 2 years before her brain is fully formed. Hanging around with Dad at what is an extreamly high concentration of lead exhaust and highly contaminated site for lead expousuer, you must get her to a clinic to test her blood lead level. I would not recommend a clinic in the immediate area of the Hillview air port or in District 5. While there get yourself tested. You may be surprised to find that you too are contaminated with an elevated blood lead level.
      Your a smart guy . Go on line and ask the brouser the questions you are in fear of knowing. “What can lead expousuer do to a 4 year old. “What can Reid Hillview Airport plane exhaust contribute to the negative aspects of the neighborhood under it’s flight path.
      The politicions have known about this tragic conciquence for many years. It is discusting to hear all the promises and baby kissing that has gone on all of these years in that district, yet there are the few that continue to have their HOBBY at the expense of all the babies that are affected by this scourge and life changing negative results to a babies brain and subsequent lifes negative future.
      Politically , I know of no one that has championed the babies of the eastside district and San Jose , save for Mike Honda.
      Robert do your home work, and after you have honestly looked at most web sites about babies with high blood lead and what it leads to in future years, write your posts and one day as today , I will find you on the side of your 6 year old daughter with what COULD BE A NEAR NORMAL BRAIN FUNCTION.
      If you are really in need of money, pack up the light rail. That system is like our extreme denial. it has never worked. It was built for another time. Frankly its a pain in the ass. It would be cheaper to taxi the 30 or so folks that use it daily. We count the passengers daily. It’s a laugh when we can lose count after 10 or so riders. The OLD established politicals, no longer can hide from the glaring truth. The truth is ,
      Who will champion our children before they are lost in our politically institutionalized denial?

      The Village Black Smith
      Gil Hernandez

    • Bud, Gil can you please hit reply to comment so we have a thread, vs just generally replying to PLO’s post at the top? 

      Gil, you first.

      I’m not in fear of knowing anything Gil.  If you want to compare, the amount of lead being released from fishing weights lost at the bottom of Lake Cunningham is greater than what’s being pushed out the exhaust of a plane.

      Lead is a naturally occurring element.  We all have trace amounts of it, along with things like cyanide ,asbestos and other toxins floating around our body all the time.

      Back to the airport here, I like it.  I like flying planes and before you knock it, you should try it sometime.


      Correct me if I’m wrong but, wasn’t lake Cunningham a field before? As was Eastridge?

      What do you think it should be used for?  More housing?  We have enough surplus. Please don’t lower the value of my house any further. Sports fields?  What about Pleasant Hill Golf course up the street?

      I won’t say the airport is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but you have to remember I grew up in that area and I saw civilization build around the airport.  I remember what wasn’t there in the 70’s. Are you telling me my eyes are deceiving me?

    • Dear Village Black Smith guy-

      I think the lead issue is a “red herring” in talking about the airport.  It has emotional appeal, but it is an example of using a small fact out of context to justify a position you are in favor of (closing that damn airport near me so I can increase my property value – just guessing.)

      The particulate matter from tail pipe emissions include lots of nasty stuff that gets trap on road surfaces and elsewhere and come the rainy season, washes into our watershed where our gardens, bay water and everything get lots of additional pollution loads.  Single driver pollutants are the single greatest offenders in terms of damage.  I don’t care if you’re driving a smug hybrid or Lexus SUV, your part of the problem.

      Closing the airport for environmental reasons is just a plow to accomplish a political and economic goal.  I personally enjoyed having the airport here growing up and noticed that people would agressively bargain for reduced home values do to proximity to the airport.  Adjacent homeowners knew of the airport and received lower purchase prices in most cases because of it.  Now we need to close the aiport and use put in a park and strip mall along with some high density transit oriented housing?


  11. “Where was everyone when …income-producing land was converted from industrial to housing?”

    So, uh, Councilmember…where were YOU when your pals chose to convert income-producing, taxpaying land near Diridon Station into…dusty, empty fields and parking lots? You know…*just in case* the A’s need a new home near downtown San Jose, which with every passing day/week/month/year seems unlikely.

    Oh, right: “It is difficult for policy makers and interest groups to be consistent and this to me is an example of being inconsistent.”

  12. Pier,
    Kudos to you for supporting the “No on V” measure and controlling city spending by our mayor and city council. Hopefully your colleagues will support you in your “No on V” endorsement.

      • Pier,
        I find it very refreshing that, although you initially supported Measure V, you were able to reexamine your stance, and now give your support to the No on Measure V positions which you wrote about this week. I admire a politician who can change his or her mind. Measure V should be defeated so our city money can be spent on priorities, not on golf courses and the Hayes mansion.

        • Say what you want, Nice Try, but I am against the city spending money on the Hayes mansion, just as Pier opposes it also. Let’s pull the plug on the golf courses and the land buying for a baseball stadium.

  13. RE: “I can’t help by wonder where everyone was…when income-producing land was converted from industrial to housing?”

    Well, I think you know where I was! Nearly a decade of suffering through PC & CC meetings that went on into the wee hours of the morning long before you were on the scene. Not that there weren’t some appropriate conversions considering how long it had been without a GP update. But greed ruled the day and cocky little jerks helped crash the economy and create a big mess here at ground zero. Some of them would be better off selling used cars if anyone is buying them.

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