Update: On Tuesday, August 17, following more than six hours of expert presentation, public comment, and discussion, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to eliminate lead exposure from operations at Reid-Hillview Airport. County lawmakers want to explore prohibiting the sale or use of leaded fuel, and pursuing “any and all available paths to early (airport) closure prior to 2031.”
This is likely to be a lengthy process, and we will continue to keep you informed of progress and opportunities to engage.
Discussions around the future of East San José’s Reid-Hillview Airport have significant implications for housing, health, community resources, and economic opportunities on the East Side.
When the Airport was developed in the 1930s, East San José was largely rural with a population of less than 40,000. Today, the Airport is surrounded by thousands of single-family homes in the heart of the city’s East Side.
In December 2019, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted to stop accepting new federal (FAA) grants for the airport, effectively setting it on a path towards closure. Current federal grant obligations will expire in 2031, which would coincide with the airport’s closure and the potential for converting it to alternative land uses. In November 2020, Supervisors formally voted to begin the planning process for repurposing the land.
In response to concerns that children living near the airport are exposed to levels of airborne lead from overhead airplanes, the County commissioned an investigation in February 2020 to study the blood lead level in children living near the airport.
On August 17, 2021, the Santa Clara County Supervisors will be discussing the results of the commissioned lead study and the future of the airport. The study found that children in predominantly low-income neighborhoods near the Airport have significantly higher levels of lead in their blood and are at higher risk of permanent developmental issues compared to those living further away.
Since 2018, SV@Home has supported the closure of Reid-Hillview Airport to protect the residents in East San José from further lead pollution exposure and believes that this is a critical opportunity to repurpose the Airport’s 180-acre site to alternative uses, including significantly more affordable housing, new jobs, and open space. SV@Home also encourages the County to begin a comprehensive planning process that plans for vibrant, mixed-use development alongside community benefits and open space with extensive community input.