County, FAA, and EPA Square Off Over Reid-Hillview Airport


Reid-Hillview airport, aerial view
Reid-Hillview Airport in high-density, park-poor East San Jose. Photo credit: Jeremy Zawodny, flickr.
Reid-Hillview Airport in high-density, park-poor East San Jose

Lea la versión en español aquí.

For over a year, Green Foothills and our allies have partnered with East San Jose residents to close Reid-Hillview Airport and repurpose the 180 acres of land for a community-centered vision that includes parks and natural habitat. In January, we came one step closer to that goal and also protected the community from toxic lead exposure when Santa Clara County banned the sale of leaded fuel at Reid-Hillview and San Martin Airports. If you haven’t already, please sign our petition and you will receive periodic updates as new developments arise.

What’s Happening

In August 2021, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to pursue early closure of Reid-Hillview Airport and to ban the sale of leaded fuel effective January 1 of this year. The decision was in response to thousands of emails and petition signatures, along with hundreds of verbal public comments, from Green Foothills supporters and other community members.

Although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has objected to the ban, the County is holding its ground and maintaining that FAA permission is not needed to protect the community from lead exposure. Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also taking a role. In October 2021, Santa Clara County, supported by Green Foothills and other environmental organizations, petitioned the EPA to issue an “endangerment finding.” An endangerment finding is an evaluation of whether lead emissions from aircraft cause or contribute to air pollution that might endanger public health. This January, the EPA announced that it will release a proposed endangerment finding this year, then a final version in 2023 following a public comment period.

Why It Matters

The closure of Reid-Hillview Airport represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create new urban green space in a park-deficient urban area. The current airport operations cause harmful lead exposure to children, which may not cease with the ban on sale of leaded fuel because planes using leaded fuel from other sources may still use Reid-Hillview Airport. Moreover, the airport is an inappropriate use in the dense urban environment. The surrounding neighborhoods have endured constant noise, risk of plane crashes, and dangerous air pollution for decades. The East San Jose community is demanding better uses for this 180-acre space, including parks and natural open space.

What You Can Do

Sign our petition in support of closing Reid-Hillview Airport and repurposing the site according to a community-centered vision that includes green space. We’ll send you updates as new developments arise so you can act when necessary!

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