Harry Freitas Presents County’s Airport Site Vision Plan
WELCOME TO REID HILLVIEW AIRPORT
On Thursday, Oct 15th Harry Freitas joined a Zoom meeting with more than 60 attendees to present the County’s Community Vision Study for the Reid Hillview Airport site. The study was initiated in response to the Board of Supervisors’ vote in December of 2018 to decline future FAA Grants for Reid Hillview and to explore options associated with closing the airport, including transferring activity to San Martin Airport. It is important to note that the $400K study was chartered to explore non-aviation uses of the 180-acre site and to obtain community input on desired future alternatives. The study is available to review Here. The Study is 91 pages long and addresses the history of the airport site, the methodology used in preparing the study, and factors important to the community in defining a vision. The Plan looked at the site and surrounding neighborhoods (including Eastridge Shopping Center, Lake Cunningham Park and Waterpark, and the dormant Hillview Golf Course in addition to the airport property. It also looked at Demographics, which indicate higher than average LatinX and Vietnamese populations (relative to the county at large) as lower than the average household and per capita incomes.
The consultants met with a number of neighborhood resident groups and community leaders and assembled a listing of community “aspirations” or desires for the project. Among them were Economic Opportunities, Quality of Life, Housing Stability, Educational Opportunities, Authentic Diversity, and Cultural/Historic Pride. Those wishes were grouped into three “Themes: (Community+Infrastructure, Culture+Diversity, and Success+Wellbeing. Within each theme were grouped a series of bullet points labeled strategies, such as Open Space and Community Center in the Community+Infrastructure theme. In all, 18 strategies were listed as ideas within the Themes, and there were additional details about possible tactics to pursue to drive those strategies forward. Because San Jose has declined to permit the development of the dormant Hillview Golf Course site, and because Eastridge is also a San Jose City property, those parcels were not included in the vision. Anyone wishing more details on the plan should download it from the county site and read it.
During our discussion on the 15th, Harry summarized the plan, reaffirmed that no decisions have been made (yet) to close the airport, and answered a number of questions about the next steps, jobs versus retail, the timing for any steps to close or do detailed planning for redevelopment. Harry will be presenting the Plan to the entire Board of Supervisors at a Zoom meeting on Tuesday, November 17th, with timing to be determined by the final agenda. He claimed there is no action contemplated beyond having the Board “receive” the report, and also to consider recommendations for master lease at San Martin (and possibly Reid Hillview). It is important to note that the Supervisors might opt to take more significant action, especially in light of the fact that two of the Supervisors who joined Cindy Chavez in voting in 2018 to initiate steps to study closing the airport will be off of the Board by thins January. New Supervisor Ellenberg has not declared a position about the airport, and neither has candidate Otto lee who is running against closure advocate Kansen Chu for Cortese’s seat. The Board could legally choose to vote to pursue closure as early as the November meeting, even though the airport isn’t likely to actually close for 10 years or longer.
Our organization is hoping to have some details of an alternative vision to present to the Board in November, along the lines of the Business Plan prepared in 2018, with commercial non-aviation development along the Capitol Expressway corridor, and improvements to San Jose State and FBO facilities plus revenue sources to assure proper upkeep and enhancements over future years. We continue to need your support in sharing with our elected officials the benefits of retaining critical transportation and emergency services.