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Statement on the Reid-Hillview Airport

 

IN LIGHT OF TODAY'S ANTICIPATED VOTE REGARDING LAND USE IN OUR COMMUNITIES, OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR HAS SUBMITTED THE FOLLOWING LETTER TO THE Santa clara county board of supervisors.

WE URGE ALL OF OUR ALLIES TO READ AND TAKE ACTION ON OUR "THRIVING COMMUNITY PLATFORM" TODAY AND IN THE MONTHS AND YEARS AHEAD.


Re:  Business Plan for Reid-Hillview Airport.  

Dear Santa Clara Board of Supervisors,

There are at least 16 schools, theme parks, and hundreds of families of color that live and work within one kilometer of Reid-Hillview Airport. Studies have shown that children living within one kilometer of airports like Reid-Hillview have higher levels of lead in their blood, which can cause cognitive development problems and puts them at higher risk for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (Braun, Kahn, Froehlich, Auinger, & Lanphear, 2006). In adults, lead exposure can result in the decreased functioning of cardiovascular, kidney, central nervous and immune systems. (Lam et al., 2017; National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2017).

 We are concerned that Reid-Hillview creates health inequity for our students and families because of the airport’s use of leaded-fuel airplanes. According to the Center of Disease Control, children in Alum Rock and East San Jose have higher levels of lead in their blood than children in other parts of the country. These rates of lead contamination in East San Jose far exceed those of the national average. 

Reid Hillview was built around 1939 to serve the needs of San Jose, but today our community’s priorities have shifted to include things like affordable housing. Thousands of families from our most vulnerable neighborhoods are forced to leave San Jose because of income inequality, rising rent and increased housing prices. In San Jose it takes approximately four minimum wage jobs to afford an apartment. Many of our residents who are struggling to stay in San Jose live in inadequate housing conditions, being forced to “couch surf,” live in cars or garages, or even in dangerous freeway underpasses.

As an organization that works directly with community, we have witnessed how children and students are greatly impacted by the housing crisis. Take for example “Martin,” a young man who felt isolated, hopeless, and frustrated after his family lost their apartment overnight and had to scramble to find a place to live. His family was separated and scattered throughout San Jose. For Martin, school became an afterthought as his family attempted to find a place to live to with and he dealt with the emotional impact of feeling “pushed” out from his home. Martin’s story represents many of our working-class residents and students who are feeling the extreme pressures of our housing crisis.

We understand that solving this issue will require multiple strategies and daring solutions. We ask that you consider San Jose’s current housing crisis as a critical factor in the Reid-Hillview business plan that you will be voting on today.   

We urge you to prioritize our residents’ needs and health as the Board plans for our future. Support our community and take immediate action by:

  1. Relocating the Reid-Hillview airport activities to San Martin

  2. Declining to apply for future federal funding for RHA;

  3. Prioritizing a community engagement process to envision the future use of Reid-Hillview land so we can address the diverse needs of San Jose residents.   

Sincerely,

Camille Llanes-Fontanilla, MPA                                  Victor Vasquez

Executive Director                                                      Community Organizing Manager

 

 
Chelsey Cartwright