Greenlee: Decision on height limits will impact SJC for decades
Mineta San Jose International Airport is pictured (courtesy of Mineta San Jose International Airport).

I am an airline transport pilot with over 37 years of military and commercial experience and I want to make sure that all stakeholders of Mineta San Jose International Airport, including airlines, local businesses, citizens of San Jose and passengers who travel through the airport are aware of upcoming decisions that will impact operations at SJC for decades to come.

The airport staff at SJC have recommended raising allowable building heights in the downtown corridor and within the Diridon Station area.

Additionally, the airlines will soon be asked to sign long-term lease agreements at SJC. The city of San Jose is embarking on the Environmental Impact Report to amend the airport’s Master Plan to service demands to the year 2037. Finally, the city will soon be asking the community to engage in a revised plan for the Diridon Station area. All of these activities are related and impact each other and an iterative process should be used to ensure we receive the maximum benefit to the public.

Stakeholders need to be aware of the following proposed changes:

The proposed building height changes will impact “south flow” operations (take offs from runways 12L and 12R). The proposed building height changes will eliminate current one engine inoperative (OEI) safety areas used by all airlines operating at SJC.

The possibility of increased noise complaints, increased operating costs, increased cancellations and decreased revenue for flights will affect airline service decisions, including all flights to Asia, Europe and even possibly flights to the U.S. east coast.

San Jose’s Airport Commission voted not to recommend the airport staff recommendation and instead voted in support of a scenario that will protect the vital OEI corridors while still allowing increased building heights in the Diridon Station area.

I urge all stakeholders to educate themselves on the two proposals, commonly referred to as Scenario 4 and Scenario 10B in the Airport OEI study, and let your City Council members know your feelings. This decision will affect the continued viability of Mineta San Jose International Airport and the travelling public for decades to come.

Captain Raymond Greenlee is a commercial airline pilot and member of the San Jose Airport Commission, who voted to reject the airport’s recommendation to increase downtown building heights in favor of an alternate plan that proposes no changes in the downtown core and a scaled-back height increase in the Diridon Station area.

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