In a 4 to 1 vote this afternoon (August 12, 2008), members of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted to accept a report from the County Counsel on legal options related to Reid-Hillview Airport, but also voted that staff and County Counsel should take no action on the report. This effectively puts to rest the current call for the closure of Reid-Hillview AirportÂ The latest closure attempt began early this year as part of an attempt to find ways to close the County’s $215M budget gap. In March, the board voted for studies of the potential net financial benefits of developing the airport and the potential legal issues with closing the airport. The County Counsel’s report, released today, offered several actions that the County could take to attempt to close the airport. The report concluded “Should the Board determine that it wishes to pursue the sale or lease of the Reid-Hillview Airport, the legal procedures would be extremely complex and lengthy.”
In accepting the report, Board of Supervisors Chair Pete McHugh said that a major portion of funds realized from any potential sale would have to be shared with the FAA, and that it was uncertain that the County could be successful in any attempt to close the airport.
Approximately ten of us spoke to the Supervisors, split roughly between pro and con positions, as did a member of the FAA’s Airport’s division, before the final vote. People speaking in favor of the airport pointed out that a previous County funded consulting report from SRI concluded that the airport was the safest possible use of the land, that RHV is designated as a reliever airport to San Jose International, and that flight training currently conducted at RHV would move to the other three airports in the County, increasing the number of operations and noise at those airports.
If past is prologue, this issue will come up again in the future. The Palo Alto Airport has a Joint Community Relations Committee that has improved the dialogue between airport users and nearby residents, and it appears there may be an opportunity to get one established for RHV early next year when new members come onto the Board of Supervisors. Ironically, the formation of such a committee has been blocked in the past by the one Supervisor who voted to close the airport, but who is leaving the Board in December.
Let’s continue to work to make Reid-Hillview Airport a model in the way it works with the community. This past Saturday’s activity, which brought out over 100 organizations and flew over 500 children, was a great example and resulted in favorable publicity. The next RHV Airport Day, on September 20, will be another great opportunity to showcase the airport, so please support RHVAA in this annual event.
Keep in mind that aviation continues to come under fire elsewhere. Watsonville pilots were successful in suing the city, which was found in violation of State Aeronautics law (Editor’s Note: Please see CALPILOTS site header for more info). However the city is appealing and the group is raising money to fight the appeal.
Contributions should be sent to:
Watsonville Pilots Association
P.O. Box 2074
Freedom, CA 95019-2074
Please make checks payable to “WPA” and in the check memo section write “legal fund.”
Most of all please fly responsibly by following all noise abatement procedures. Also, the next time you go flying, take along a friend who has an interest in flying and the means to pursue flight training. We all need to get actively involved in growing the pilot population if we’re to continue to have the clout we need to defend airports.