SAN JOSE — The fate of one of Santa Clara County’s two general aviation airports is up in the air.
Tuesday afternoon, the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on whether to accept Federal Aviation Administration grants for the Reid-Hillview Airport in San Jose.
A vote by the board not to accept the grants could signal the ultimate closure of the airport, an outcome that would likely be cheered by residents who live nearby. Some say the land could be used as affordable housing, a swimming pool or sports fields for children.
The move would also address concerns about lead contamination from the fuel used by small, piston-engine planes.
The airport is a significant source of airborne lead pollution, according to a county staff report. A 2008 study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ranked it 25th out of 3,414 across the country with an estimated 1,279 pounds of lead emitted annually.
Since the study, annual flight operations at Reid-Hillview have soared from 141,996 to 162,648 in 2017.
Lead is a neurotoxin, and even low levels in the blood can result in stunted physical and cognitive development in children.
But airport backers say Reid-Hillview is a valuable community resource, serving as home base to San Jose State University’s aviation program, as well as housing Cal Fire operations and the Civil Air Patrol, which help provide disaster relief during emergencies.
The county could consolidate airport operations at the San Martin Airport, but a new master plan would need to be drawn up. The current plan, drafted in 2006, calls for numerous improvements, including a new air traffic control tower and an extended runway.
Nothing would happen right away if the board moves to close Reid-Hillview. Terms of FAA grants the county previously accepted require it to keep the airport open through 2031.
Check back for updates.
The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors is slated to take up the Reid-Hillview Airport question about 1 p.m. Tuesday. The meeting can be streamed live at http://sccgov.iqm2.com/Citizens/Detail_Meeting.aspx?ID=9967
Reid-Hillview Airport’s future hangs in the balance