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Santa Clara County supervisors push for affordable housing at Reid-Hillview Airport site

Reid-Hillview Airport. Photo Credit: Wikimedia
By Wesley Severson - Published on November 14, 2020.

There’s no debate San Jose can use more affordable housing. But a debate that seems to never go away is whether or not to close the Reid-Hillview Airport in East San Jose.

The decision will come up again next week when Santa Clara County Supervisors talk about proposals for what to do with the land that the airport has sat on for more than 80 years.

According to San Jose Spotlight, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors will discuss two initial reports on the options for land-use at the airport. If an option gets pushed through the next step would be to start the master planning process. 

For the last couple of years, the supervisors have made several moves to close the airport and use the land for other things. 

A press release from the board released on Thursday states that a 2018 vote to stop accepting Federal Aviation Administration grants for Reid-Hillview Airport allows the county to potentially close the airport in 2031, after the lock-up period for the last federal grant they received expires.

That means if a plan is pushed forward by supervisors next week, the airport would continue operating until at least 2031 while legal plans and designs for the land are created.

Supporters of the airport’s closure have long argued that the 180-acre plot of land would be better used as new housing, especially if it’s affordable.

"It is time to reimagine Reid-Hillview Airport as an accessible community asset that stimulates the production of affordable housing and economic opportunities. Reid-Hillview has served a select few in this community for decades but the best use of that land is no longer to accommodate private planes or even teach students the basics of aviation,” said Teresa Alvarado of the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association, speaking to KRON 4.

The county says there have been eight plane crashes near the airport since 2007, but despite that, supporters have said the airport has an excellent reputation for being safe.

Supervisors are also expected to address how closing the airport would impact emergency responses in Santa Clara County.

The airport is used to help with aerial attacks during fire season. NBC Bay Area reported in August that Reid-Hillview Airport played a key role in battling the SCU Complex Fire which burned in several counties including portions of Eastern Santa Clara County. 

According to San Jose Spotlight, The Board of Supervisors will take up the airport item at 5:30 p.m. during the November 17th meeting. It’s expected to be live-streamed on the SCC Gov Chambers YouTube Page.

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