With the November 2nd election, supporters of San Carlos Airport received a big boost from a Redwood City environmental group. Known as the “People for Housing, Not High Rises” the group defeated a plan to build high rise buildings under the noise abatement departure path. The group of Redwood City residents had several concerns, including: Damage or destruction of endangered species habitat; additional traffic burdens on the already crowded streets; noise from aircraft flying overhead at very low altitudes; lack of sewage capacity and a lack of water for the project. Redwood City is reported to be currently using 10% over its allotted water and is buying that amount from adjoining cities.

Several of the project buildings would have been over 200 feet high and directly under a special noise abatement departure path. The procedure had been adopted voluntarily a few years ago by pilots flying out of San Carlos Airport. The purpose was to fly over open land to lessen noise for residents of Redwood City. Nevertheless, the Redwood City Council approved the developer’s request to build a large project of residential and commercial high rise buildings knowing that aircraft would be flying directly overhead.

The citizen’s environmental group convinced the city council to conduct a referendum that would allow residents to vote on the project. The ballot measure designated “Measure Q” asked the voters if the project should be approved. Before the election, the developer was reported to have spent $500,000 in a campaign to pass “Measure Q”. The citizens group had only approximately 10% of that amount to defeat the measure. Nevertheless, approximately 60 % of the voters voted NO. That nullified the City’s earlier approval of the project and removed a threat to San Carlos Airport.

President’s Comment: This is a classic example of how airport supporters can sometimes work with other interest groups in matters of common interest. Frequently land uses that encroach on airports also have adverse environmental effects.

Written for the California Pilots Association newsletter by:
Jay White