Considering options for Reid-Hillview Airport

March 17, 2008 7:35:38 PM PDT
Tough budget times in Santa Clara County have supervisors there wondering if they could generate some money by selling the land out from under Reid-Hillview Airport. It's located in East San Jose near Capital Expressway and Tully Road. The idea of selling the land has already been rejected twice.

Reid-Hillview Airport occupies 179 acres of land in East San Jose, land that's looking very valuable in the face of the county's $225 million dollar budget deficit.

"Rather than make further reduction in services, it seems only appropriate that we look at our assets and see if we can get more revenue from them," said Pete McHugh, the Chair on the Board of Supervisors.

McHugh says selling or leasing the airport land for housing or retail development could net the county hundreds of millions of dollars. Pilots say, 'not so fast.' The federal government helped to build the airport and if it closes, would want it's investment paid back.

"They think it's going to be a huge windfall when in fact when all is said and done, it's not going to be. At the end of the day, we're going to be minus an airport and the valuable services the airport provides," said Mark Kadrich, the Reid-Hillview Airport Association President.

ABC7's Aviation Expert Ron Wilson, says there's also the question of where the 600 airplanes based at Reid-Hillview would go. Nearby regional airports are full and Wilson says larger airports aren't a good option.

"You just don't want to mix light general aviation airplanes in with heavy jet traffic. You're just asking for disaster," said Wilson.

At this point the county is just considering weather to study a possible closure. It says given current economic times, it would be foolish not to look at all of its options.

"Our budget situation is deteriorating. It's not the dot com boom anymore and we've got to look at our priorities," said County Executive Peter Kutras.

Various aviation groups will be fighting back. Pilots called an emergency meeting Monday night and will be speaking up when the Board of Supervisors takes up this issue on Tuesday, March 18th.