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Palo Alto plans to take over airport, despite snag

Original post made on May 4, 2012

Just as Palo Alto is planning an ambitious takeover of Palo Alto Airport operations from Santa Clara County, the facility is in a danger of losing out on much-needed grant funding after the Federal Aviation Administration determined that the county has violated several provisions in its federal grant agreement.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 4, 2012, 9:05 AM

Comments (118)

Posted by Marrol, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 4, 2012 at 9:38 am

And if we should find that the airport operation is not self-sustainable, then I question whether or not we should be in the airport business. I am quite sure that the initial overhead of this transition will not be a cheap proposition. The transition would undoubtedly involve the need for additional public employees, management teams, and more bureaucracy. All things that we don't need. I am willing to take a wait and see on this matter, but if the finances even hint that the city will slip into the red on this venture, then it's time to consider different and hopefully more profitable use for the land.


Posted by More Negativity, Please!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 4, 2012 at 9:49 am

This is a good, hot button topic for old fashioned Palo Alto negativity. Where are Diana Diamond and pat to stoke the coals into the flame of civic outrage? Come on, people, you can do much better that this in the naysay department!


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 4, 2012 at 10:33 am

This airport has never been profitable. It almost collapsed of its own weight in the 1950s, but the County stepped in and with a gift of $500M of public land--which the airport/pilots have used for free, the airport has managed to lumber on. The following link points to old newspaper articles from the 1950s relating to the near closure at that time:

Web Link

The cost of the airport is spread across the US Taxpayers, vis-a-via the FAA operations tower employee costs, the original construction costs, and number on-going grants to provide for various improvements and security for the facility:

Web Link

The county's tax payers have picked up the tab for all of the costs which have not been offset by the tie-down fees, and personal property taxes which have been paid by the pilots/plane owners who actually live in Santa Clara County.

There has never been any really accurate total-cost accounting of the County's airports--which has allowed the pilot's/plane owners to ride on the tails of the taxpayers. No one has ever tried to do a true-cost-to-use accounting model, which would include a decent rent for the use of the land, the cost of the levee maintenance on the Bayshore side of the airport, and all of the FAA/Federal Government gifts/grants/payments. It's anyone's guess what the tie-down costs would be, but with all of these cost components added into the rental fees, the true-cost would be several times what it is now.

This airport is not sustainable when true-cost figures are on the table. And then there is the safety issue:

Crash Data From Palo Alto Airport:
Web Link

About 150 people have been killed at this airport since 1964, when the FAA on-line data was compiled for public release.

It is beyond belief that the City of Palo Alto is considering operating this airport for the 80, or so, Palo Alto residents who have been known to keep their planes at this facility. Coupled with the clear losses from the crash that knocked out the power to all of Palo Alto--this facility is a danger to our lives, our property, and our businesses.

One can only wonder if this matter will even be discussed come the next Council election?


Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 4, 2012 at 10:35 am

Any penny wasted on this boondoggle is scandalous. Shut down the damn thing once and for all.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 4, 2012 at 10:45 am

Before this gets any farther

There have been 149 accidents at Palo Alto Airport reported to the NTSB since 1964.

142 had no fatalities.

7 led to a total of 16 deaths since 1964.


Posted by Jo Ann, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 4, 2012 at 10:46 am

WHY are we funding this but not the animal shelter??? Aren't we so broke we can't afford fixing things?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on May 4, 2012 at 10:50 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Don't let the facts get in the way of your diatribes.

Martin, "About 150 people have been killed at this airport since 1964", needs to learn how to read the report that he referenced- there have been 149 accidents/incidents (including such minor things as bent propellers) in the period covered by the FAA report but only 7 of these accidents involved fatalities and in those 7 accidents there were a total of 16 deaths.


Posted by Palo Parent, a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 4, 2012 at 10:51 am

Wayne: I do believe you misquoted the report as I cut and pasted it below:

"Total Fatalities At The Palo Alto Airport (PAO): 16 deathsreported."

There have been 149 accidents at the airport, not deaths.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 4, 2012 at 11:13 am

> There have been 149 accidents at the airport, not deaths

Sorry .. I glitched. The death count is closer to 16.

In addition to the 150 reported accidents, the FAA also keeps another database of "incidents" that were reported to the FAA, but not the NTSB. This database shows about 100 such incidents. And there is also yet again another database of reported bird strikes. This is a voluntary reporting database, but there have been some reported bird strikes that have done damage to the planes, but have not created any accidents. And then there is the issue of the dump being within five miles of the airport. However, with the dump being closed, this problem sort of goes away.



Again .. with apologies.


Posted by John, a resident of Mountain View
on May 4, 2012 at 11:42 am

149 accidents since the 1960s doesn't actually sound that bad to me, and when you look at the more recent data it seems even less worrying.

11 accidents in the last decade, one of which 1 was fatal. I wish our roads were that safe.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 4, 2012 at 11:59 am

The airport serves the county residents, not just city residents.

The airport has potential new business ventures starting up and Palo Alto would be very wise to encourage support businesses to the area.

This is not the 50s. Flying is getting much more difficult for short haul business trips commercially, private business trips must be a growing market. We could and should use this to our advantage. We are in the heart of where the business market is situated.


Posted by Bruce Sawhill, a resident of another community
on May 4, 2012 at 12:05 pm

The world is not very far from a technological revolution in aviation, where very small and light automated and electrically powered aircraft will be able to fly (first high value goods, later people) pretty much point-to-point, or at least small airport to small airport. Palo Alto and Silicon Valley will be at the center of this revolution in "personal air vehicles". It might be a good idea to keep the airport around a while longer.


Posted by a pilot, a resident of The Greenhouse
on May 4, 2012 at 12:07 pm

as the owner of a plane tied down at the Palo Alto airport, I am clearly in the minority in this discussion. Its my opinion that the airport needs Federal money for improvements, but the "security improvements" that have been put in are laughable, and consist of gates than are about waist-high, but have passwork-controlled locks that can be opened by reaching over the gate and opening it from the inside. The hangars are in a state of disrepair remeniscent of a 1935 Benares slum, and the pavement exclusive of the runway has a number of potholes making taxiing more adventuresome than mountain flying.
That said, I really believe that with proper maintainance and mangagement, the airport could break even, because it is the busiest small airport in the Bay Area, and with the Facebook IPO, there will probably be a lot of new pilots looking for space at Palo Alto.


Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 4, 2012 at 12:26 pm

The airport is in the red even after paying no rent for the land for all those decades, yet Palo Alto is going to sink $300,000(and probably much more afterward) into that white elephant while telling us that we can't afford to keep the animal shelter?


Posted by carey westall, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on May 4, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Being a long time flyer who started with a cessna 172 with a tie down at Palo Alto 30 years ago it is obvious that the airport will not make money under the management of the county or Palo Alto Personnel. No goverment agency has a profit driven motive. I switched to San Jose and then got kicked out because they did not want light planes. In fact they destroyed the GA hangers and replaced them for commercial use. I ended up at Reid Hillview and you know the politics of Reid Hillview(from shut it down to present day being destroyed by the management). The airports need to be under independent management separated from politics. A good example is the Naples airport in Florida or the Santa Maria Airport in California. These examples work because they are separated from government abuse. Your Government controlled model will not work at Palo Alto. Just proceed to build your high rise condo's on the land next to the dump.


Posted by Snob Value, a resident of Community Center
on May 4, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Taking over the airport is obvious, it's about prestige and snob value. How many Cities do you know that can boast a golf course and an airport?

With the best schools on the Peninsula and property values souring upwards, Palo Alto sees itself as the most desirable place to attract the "neuveau riche" and that includes an airport!!!


Posted by More Negativity, Please!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 4, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Thank you, Wayne Martin and others for coming through with the good old fashioned, patented Palo Alto naysaying. What would Palo Alto be without all the old school negativity? Well, it certainly wouldn't be Palo Alto!


Posted by Don't get it, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 4, 2012 at 1:08 pm

I don't get it - why does the city value this amenity used by a few residents and primarily by out of towners? Don't we have another use for the land?


Posted by Eric, a resident of another community
on May 4, 2012 at 1:09 pm

In 2009, the California Highway Patrol reported 15,498 crashes that resulted in 95 deaths and 8,605 injuries in the County.How much direct revenue do roads produce? I know. None.


Posted by Dennis, a resident of another community
on May 4, 2012 at 1:12 pm

You might want to take a look at how the Livermore Airport is operated. It is self-sustaining, not a burden on the city, and is a net producer of tax revenue to the city, county and schools.


Posted by Eric, a resident of another community
on May 4, 2012 at 1:16 pm

BTW, it just occurred to me , a few "out of towners" might be using the roads. We must find a way to stop them.


Posted by PA Resident, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 4, 2012 at 1:42 pm


The anti-aviation types here should try relying on buses and trains to get around - that's a great analogy for the airlines. Small airplanes, like cars, are a much more efficient way of traveling.

Let's play the devil's advocate:

We should shut down the freeways and all major roads. Think of all the deaths we'd prevent. Besides, they're just unprofitable noisy sources of pollution, mostly used by out-of-towners. Bikes and trains should be sufficient.


Posted by Don't get it, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 4, 2012 at 1:53 pm

@PA Resident - but the roads analogy breaks down because just about 100% of residents use them, most every day. I don't know the facts, but it sounds like a very small number of residents use this small airport. Is that true? If the number is as small as mentioned (80 residents have planes there?), then I wonder why we are spending the time and money and providing the land.


Posted by D. Dutch, a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 4, 2012 at 1:59 pm

I can only suspect that there are big $$ motivations behind this and there are profiteers wanting to build homes on the airport property. This is nothing new especially with a golf course next to it.

When Palo Alto decided the airport and the golf course would NOT be part of East Palo Alto, (an entirely different conversation), it is clear to me the city values both for the quality of life in the area. While the golf course is 100% a "boondoggle", the airport is a transportation facility for civil, business, and recreational travel purposed...and has been long before the cry babies and real estate developers came along wanting to build homes on it.

No informed person can claim the airport is any less valuable than the golf course as a public asset contributing to the quality of life for those who choose to use them. Mess with the Airport, you mess with the Golf Course IMHO whether it is profitable or not.

Profiteers should consider building homes on the golf course for a fly-in community attached to a public use airport. The margins would be astronomical because you would have a unique asset for over 100 statue miles around.


Posted by AviationTrainingCurriculum, a resident of another community
on May 4, 2012 at 2:22 pm

The issues of land use, environmental impact and fiscal management always seem to rise to the surface at hot topics whenever airport ownership and operations are in transition. I don't understand why so many people seem to always see issues such as these as simple BLACK/WHITE binary opinions?

Please try to separate the various issues from each other and it will be a lot easier to have a sensible discussion on the matter.

As a general rule anytime you localize decision making (government) you increase the strength of a community's ability to control the issues that most influence it. I personally see that as a good and desirable outcome.

It is an entirely separate issue of HOW to utilize that control and WHAT the right decisions are. This is precisely the point of a public forum. If you really want to render an honest opinion however you need to be prepared to gather ALL the relevant facts to reach an appropriate decision on a given set of issues. I suspect that that is something that FEW people are really prepared to do!

The less Monday morning quarterbacking that people do the better the rest of the community in the fullest sense of the word will be.

Take the time to learn all the facts before you make any hastily decisions about what should be done about "this-or-that".


Posted by hank ostman, a resident of another community
on May 4, 2012 at 2:45 pm

I note the strong action of the FAA in this case yet when a certain mayor of a large city illegally and without prior notice closed down an active general aviation airport in his city, the FAA took little or no effective action. Of course that was in Chicago and we all know the rules apply differently there.


Posted by Menlo resident, a resident of Menlo Park
on May 4, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Four things:
The property taxes (real and personal) paid for aircraft located at the Palo Alto airport and owned by non-residents are paid to Palo Alto (and Santa Clara County) regardless of where the owner resides.
The tower operation costs are paid for by the FAA using taxes generated by the sale of aircraft fuel.
If the airport were to be closed, Palo Alto would have to refund all federal grant monies paid toward airport maintenance, etc., assuming the FAA were to accept the repayment (which it often will not do). Otherwise, the airport could not be closed, regardless of what alternate use were proposed. Closing a public access airport can be very difficult and expensive.
As others have indicated, airports as busy as Palo Alto are normally quite profitable. Often, however public sector airport operations often are burdened by assigned overheads having nothing to do with the airport operation itself -- overheads designed to hide costs incurred elsewhere. Absent the airport, those "overheads" still are incurred and must be covered by revenues generated elsewhere.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on May 4, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Time to buy a "corporate jet" for the city council.


Posted by Joseph, a resident of Community Center
on May 4, 2012 at 3:38 pm

The city should do a comprehensive study to see what is the best use of the land at the airport. May be the continue operation of the airport is good. May be we should use the land to house the MSC, the animal shelter, a recycling center, the proposed anaerobic digester, a much needed public safety building and more of playing fields for our residents. The MSC and the existing animal shelter can be used to house 4 to 5 auto dealerships which can generate millions of tax dollars and millions of rents for the city. The playing field at the Bayland Athletic Center can be moved to the airport and free up that land to sell or rent for office buildings. The airport is large 100 acres of land that can be use for other purposes. We could have a hugh Athletic Center at the airport with many more playing fields. We can expand Bixbee Park to include portion of the airport. I urge the City Council to open this topic for a community discussion before any permanent decision is taken.


Posted by curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on May 4, 2012 at 3:40 pm

"I don't get it - why does the city value this amenity used by a few residents and primarily by out of towners?"

Ego, friend, ego. We got an airport; Menlo Park, Mountain View, Atherton, Woodside, Los Altos, Redwood City, Los Altos Hills, Cupertino, Los Gatos, Portola Valley, and lotsa others don't. Nyaa, nyaa, nyaa.


Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 4, 2012 at 3:43 pm

If Palo Alto were to shut down this boondoggle, as it should, the FAA is unlikely to take any action. The FaA is high on the hit list of the teabaggers, just below the EPA and the Department of Education, and is fighting for survival.
The chances of the airport making a profit under city management are zero. Keeping it open is tantamount to throwing money, lots of it, down the drain. If we want to throw away millions of dollars we may as well just do it without the danger, noise and pollution this airport is causing.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on May 4, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"If Palo Alto were to shut down this boondoggle, as it should, the FAA is unlikely to take any action"

Guess again. The FAA is taking action every month on airports that have accepted FAA grants and then failed to comply with the terms. And the FAA has won every time because a grant agreement is a binding contract.

"The Airport Compliance Program is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
program that administers the rights obtained by airport users and the public
at large in exchange for federal assistance to airports in the form of grants or
land. Having accepted the federal assistance, the airport owner, also known
as the sponsor, agrees to live up to a series of obligations, also called
"assurances," laid out in the contract it signed with the federal government."


Posted by curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on May 4, 2012 at 5:06 pm

"Guess again. The FAA is taking action every month on airports that have accepted FAA grants..."

Another good reason to stick the county with this boondoggle. It is the entity that accepted the grants, after all. Why should Palo Altans bail it out?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on May 4, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"stick the county with this boondoggle. It is the entity that accepted the grants,"

No, both the County and the City of Palo Alto signed the contracts and accepted the grants.


Posted by Joseph, a resident of Community Center
on May 4, 2012 at 5:50 pm

I just think the City should have an open process to discuss the different options on what to do with the airport. Let's get all the facts on the table and open up the process. It is through an open and informed process that good decisions can be made. Look at us discussing these issues now! This is healthy and the process should involve our communities as well.


Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 4, 2012 at 7:34 pm

The FAA is scared of its own shadow right now, fighting for survival. It's a major target for the tea party crazies who would like nothing better than to eliminate it together with many other government agencies. Don't listen to the scare tactics of the pro airport people. The least of our worries is the FAA. The airport has been this boondoggle white elephant that astonishingly has been able to serve mostly non-residents for decades, living off the largess of the Palo Alto tax payers who obediently gave up precious valuable land for free.


Posted by Joe Whoo, a resident of another community
on May 4, 2012 at 9:28 pm

If 80 Residents have Aircraft at Palo Alto airport, must be a rich bunch of people, each having over two(2) aircraft. They are all paying Personal Property Tax, Fuel Tax and Sales Tax, that is a lot of income for the County/City. All the Naysayers don't think about that. These aircraft are not at that airport tied down for free. Some thing is wrong with your Arithmatic. You better off, keeping the airport, heavy housing could be sinking into the Baymud.


Posted by Palo Altoan, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 5, 2012 at 12:18 am

Can we please stop repeating the "only 80 people" use the airport? Where does that number come from? The number of planes now paying hangar and tie down fees? A great number of the aircraft based at Palo Alto have more than 5 or even 20 different peple using them such as the many club aircraft at the airport.

To those who persist is believing ony a few, only the rich, or only the nutty use the airport, I would ask you to go fly yourself!! If you haven't tried it, why not? The EAA chapter provids free rides to kids and the Civil Air Patrol unit based at the airport regularly qualified aircrew members essentially for free. ANYONE can use the airport. And, yes, for free.

Palo Alto Airport is kept open in large part so smaller planes and helicopters don't jam up SFO, SJC and OAK. Palo Alto is a designated "reliever" airport for our local nig airports. To those who'd respond, "Ground all small airplanes" so they can take off faster at SFO, I say remember Crystal Nacht.

Groudn the small planes, close the small airports, watch out when next you can't take your old or small car on the freeways. Yes, we need to protect all transport and make them open to all or we risk an Animsl Farm some-are-more-equal-than-others slippery Crystal Nacht slopes.


Posted by Questionable, a resident of another community
on May 5, 2012 at 2:10 am

Maybe I am going insane, but are these not the same city leaders who have been screaming that they can't meet their financial obligations due to a decrease of money coming into the coffers? Are these the same city leaders who have been cutting public safety positions left and right over the past few years to try and help balance the budget? As a matter of fact, this is likely to happen in the coming months with the cut of six traffic police officers! And they are seriously considering taking over the airport and adding many more $200,000+ salaries (factoring in benefits) to the payroll? All I can say is I am glad I reside in another community!


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on May 5, 2012 at 8:38 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I just think the City should have an open process to discuss the different options on what to do with the airport. Let's get all the facts on the table and open up the process."

That is exactly what was done - if you don't pay attention to the published agendas and participate in the discussions when they are held then don't now ask for a do over.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 5, 2012 at 8:49 am

> The tower operation costs are paid for by the FAA using taxes
> generated by the sale of aircraft fuel.

This is not true, if the poster believes that all of the FAA costs are paid for by fuel sold at the Palo Alto airport. Moreover, the FAA posts on its web-site the gallons of AV-GAS that are sold nationally. It's pretty clear that the taxes generated on this fuel doesn't come close to covering the costs of all of the General Aviation Airports in the country.

I have been unable to find a local web-site that lists the taxes generated by the sale of AV-GAS at the Palo Alto Airport. I have also not been able to obtain the costs of operating the Tower from the FAA, after having waited a year for a FOIA request for that data.

Assuming that the average cost of a federal employee working in the Tower is $125K-$150K/year, then this comes to a lot of AV-GAS sales for this small airport to pay their salaries/wages.

There is simply no way the General Aviation program in the US is self-sustaining, based on taxes paid at the pump.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 5, 2012 at 8:58 am

> Can we please stop repeating the "only 80 people" use the airport?

> Where does that number come from?
> The number of planes now paying hangar and tie down fees?

By-and-large, yes. This number has been provided by the County Airport Administration, at one time, or another, in the past. Obviously this number is subject to change, from time-to-time. Unfortunately, information about the users of this facility is typically shrouded in what seems more like secrecy, than not.

Given that people in Palo Alto can rent planes, or take lessons, without any kind of use monitoring, the number of Palo Altans "using the airport" is unknowable. However, given the large investment in land, and the future liabilities of the City, it seems more-than-silly to take on this operation for what is likely to be no more than a couple hundred people who live in Palo Alto.

By the way, this use of Palo Alto facilities by non-residents is typical. The golf course has noted that about 75% of its users (in the past) are non-residents, and the Art Center has noted (in the past) that its users tend to as high as 80% non-residents.

While there may be some evidence that the operational costs of these facilities are paid for with use fees (more-or-less), the capital costs end up being paid for by the taxpayers, rather than by the users.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 5, 2012 at 9:06 am

> Neysayers ..

Calling people "Neysayers" is one of Council Member Larry Klein's favorite sound-bytes. The term is meaningless on its face, but effective in the newspapers.

But let's look at our financial situation because of the lack of "Neysays", who are, more likely than not, just people with a keen sense of fiscal responsibility. The following are just some of the outstanding debts, and/or projected spending, of the various levels of government--

USA:
---Social Security Runs Dry: 2033
---Medicare/Medicaid Runs Dry: 2017
---Obamacare Adds Trillions to National Debt
---Unfunded Public-sector Pension Debt: > $3T
---Outstanding Federal Debt/Liabilities: ~ $200T (funded and unfunded)

California:
---Outstanding Unfunded Infrastructure (unknown>$100B+)
---HSR: >100B+
---Outstanding Bonds: >$50B
---Yearly Structural General Fund Deficit: ~$25B

County of Santa Clara/San Mateo:
---Caltrain Electrification: >$1+B (unfunded)
---San Francisquito Creek—$100+M

PAUSD:
---Measure A--$750M
---Cubblerley: $300M-$500M (Unfunded)

Palo Alto
---Infrastructure: $550M-$1B

All of this spending will ultimately have to be paid for with higher taxes, and fees. This airport will not generate any meaningful revenue for the City, and will more-likely-than-not end up showing a yearly deficit, as has been the case in the past. The County can not account for all of the expenditures over the past twenty years, and there is little evidence that the City will be able to account for expenditures in the future, based on its poor financial handling of the Cubberley Center.

If there had been a few more folks standing up to the disastrous wealth transfers of "the Great Society" and the "give-away" government programs, and bloated public-sector salaries/pensions, our children and grandchildren would not be strapped with the bills passed on by this generation.

City governments should be about essential local services. Running a regional airport for the benefit of non-residents is just wrong, wrong, wrong!


Posted by C Leach, a resident of another community
on May 5, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Airports rarely make a profit on their own. It is the cumulative value they bring to the community that makes them desirable.

I have family in Palo Alto. When I visit them, I land at the Palo Alto airport and we gather at a nearby Palo Alto restaurant. Without the Palo Alto Airport, I'd land elsewhere (San Jose or San Carlos, perhaps?) and we'd take our business elsewhere, redirecting the money to a different, more accessible location.

My example is common yet vastly overlooked by the populace ... you don't see my expenditure as revenue generated by the airport, but it is 100% due to the availability of that airport that the local business gets my money. Close the airport and your local businesses forfeit the income generated by sales to non-resident visitors that airport attracts.


Posted by Sammy, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 6, 2012 at 1:04 am

I heard from a airplane owner at Palo Alto that there seeing more Facebook employees learning how to fly. Maybe when their stock goes public, will see more planes too?


Posted by Midtown Guy, a resident of Midtown
on May 7, 2012 at 9:11 am

So is City Manager Keane proposing to take money away from
public safety (e.g. University Avenue traffic patrols--which
would benefit thousands) to fund this white elephant Palo Alto
airport? Where is the common sense in all this?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on May 7, 2012 at 9:39 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Where is the common sense in all this?"

Simply that a well run airport will both make a profit and bring business and visitors to Palo Alto. Any start up or transfer of ownership has start up costs but those will be easily recovered. What other infrastructure in Palo Alto has the Federal government picking up 90% of the costs of repairs and improvements?


Posted by Jo Ann, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 7, 2012 at 11:20 am

WHY is the city spending money on the airport but not on the animal shelter?? Shame on them.

And speaking of airports, does anyone know what those noisy 1:00AM flights are?


Posted by Anna, a resident of Downtown North
on May 7, 2012 at 11:32 am

I am amused by the comments of Peter Carpenter, which are an almost perfect embodiment of the entitlement culture that seems destined to lead to financial disaster in our city, state and nation.

Peter Carpenter - a resident of Atherton, which is even wealthier than wealthy Palo Alto - seems not to mind that less wealthy citizens of Palo Alto are picking up the 10 percent of the tax tab so that residents of Atherton, Woodside and Los Altos Hills can enjoy a rich man's hobby. (The Aircraft Owners and Pilot's Association reports that the average private airplane owner's income is around $297,000).

Mr. Carpenter's real laugher comes when he gets all excited about the fact that the federal taxpayers - the vast majority of whom do not live in places anywhere near as wealthy as Atherton and Palo Alto - are picking up the remaining 90% of the expenses for the diversions of the rich.

This clueless nature of a mindset that seems to celebrate the fact that here we have the 99% subsidizing the fortunate 1% at multiple levels of government - primarily for expensive recreational pursuits, makes one want to find a convenient Occupy rally to attend. Sheesh!


Posted by Anna, a resident of Downtown North
on May 7, 2012 at 11:37 am

"WHY is the city spending money on the airport but not on the animal shelter??"

Because the normal people who care about the animal shelter aren't as wealthy and influential is the elite who care about the airport.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on May 7, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Anna - Relax, the 90% Federal contribution does not come from income taxes but from fuel taxes paid for by the pilots who use the airport.

"The general aviation community has always financially contributed to the national air transportation system. Since the inception of the Airport/Airways Trust Fund, the general aviation community has contributed to the system through a "fuel tax." Fuel taxes allow aircraft users to pay federal taxes "at the pump" – general aviation pays a 21.9 cents-per-gallon tax on jet fuel and a 19.4 cents-per-gallon tax on aviation gasoline."

Get your facts straight before you make foolish statements.


Posted by VoxPop, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 7, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Those who call for the closing of the airport would do well to check the FAA rules and regulations governing airports (they're online). It is not easy to close an airport; if closure is approved, it could involve paying the FAA a large sum of money and perhaps returning the land to the FAA. What then?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on May 7, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" those who call for the closing of the airport would do well to check the FAA rules and regulations governing airports"

Sadly this Forum has a non-existant threshold for speaking out without either knowledge or experience. It is far too demanding to expect posters to do any homework or to provide facts.


Posted by Anna, a resident of Downtown North
on May 7, 2012 at 6:35 pm

"Relax, the 90% Federal contribution does not come from income taxes but from fuel taxes paid for by the pilots who use the airport."

Peter Carpenter is correct that middle class taxpayers don't pay for the flying hobbies of his rich friends with their federal income taxes. Middle class airline passengers pay for the airborne dilettantism of the rich with fees added to their airline tickets.

All the money collected by the FAA goes into a trust fund. While fuel taxes and other fees go into this fund, they constitute a small percentage of the total spent. The subsidy for general aviation is an ongoing source of friction for the FAA and commercial airlines. In fact, the general aviation community constantly lobbies against increases in taxes and fees paid by them. They'd rather be subsidized by the taxes levied on commercial airlines and by airline ticket taxes- which of course are largely born by passengers much, much less well off on average than the average Atherton flyboy (or -girl).


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 7, 2012 at 7:57 pm

Anna, in truth the differences between the airport & PAAS are so many it's hard to compare. I totally get your frustration, however. PAAS will be gone, most likely, unless fundraising is done. It can't be done w/the shelter currently under the aegis of the police dept. I'm hoping that you know this already. I would love it if the airport was shut down, too, but I know it's not a simple thing. City budgets aren't simple, either. What I don't know is how hard it would be to get PAAS out from under your PD, but I hope it happens.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on May 7, 2012 at 8:04 pm



The Palo Alto airport is a huge asset to our Stanford and Palo Alto communities.

The benefits are huge.

A new airline will be offering flights from PA to LA which will be a great asset to people like us.

Take off by 6.30am return by 8pm --Great!


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 7, 2012 at 8:08 pm

Who are "people like us," Sharon? What sort of flights are these? Are you incapable of driving to San Jose and taking a commuter flight to smelLa? It all sounds quite intriguing!


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on May 7, 2012 at 9:23 pm



The drive to PA airport is 10 for us with free parking, no lines because of our pre security clearances.

The airline will also go close to Carmel so we can get to our house there in much less time than driving.

We also hope that NASA/AMES in MV will open for private long range jets soon to reach NY.


Posted by Joawph, a resident of Community Center
on May 7, 2012 at 10:20 pm

We should look other possible uses for the land at the airport. We should look at the opportunity cost of maintaining the airport. Others mentioned the grants the city may have to reimburse the FAA if we are to close the airport. How much do we need to pay back? Let's get all the numbers and facts on the table then we can take a comprehensive review of the airport. What if the revenue can pay off this repayment in a few years? Let's put the numbers on the table then make a decision.


Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 8, 2012 at 6:55 am

This airport is a perfect symbol for the reverse(and perverse) Robin Hood Syndrome our nation is afflicted with. The rich are subsidized by the middle class. Peter carpenter's attitude is a perfect example for the smug 1 percent attitude. He also happens to live in Atherton, an even wealthier city than Palo Alto, and he of course doesn't have to be awakened at 2:00AM by low flying small airplanes or breath the led particulates they emit into the air.
Even if the city ends up paying back the FAA a few million dollars, something I doubt would be necessary, we would be able to recuperate the money by clever use of that very valuable land, which belongs to the residents of Palo Alto, not to the one percenters from out of town who feel such a strong sense of entitlement.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on May 8, 2012 at 7:35 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"we would be able to recuperate the money by clever use of that very valuable land"

This site cannot be used for any other revenue producing operation without a change in the Comprehensive Pan (difficult, but possible) and approval from the State (highly unlikely) and any new structures would need to be elevated at least 10 feet because of the flood plane. On the other hand the existing airport is a valuable community resource that will operate at a profit.

The outstanding FAA loan guarantees are probably in excess of $20 million.


Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm

"On the other hand the existing airport is a valuable community resource that will operate at a profit."
That's highly unlikely since the pilots have always successfully resisted attempts to raise their fees. The airport has always been in the red and always will be. It's contribution to nearby business is negligence, if any. It's nothing but a boondoggle, a white elephant, an outrageous way for mostly rich boys&girls to play pilot(and create lots of noise, danger&pollution while others are subsidizing their activities.


Posted by Track Record, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 8, 2012 at 12:55 pm

The City will do an excellent job managing the airport. There will be no incompetence, no scandals, no bureaucracy. Efficiency will reach new heights, so to speak, at the airport. Each dollar will be stretched to the maximum extent. Just look at the City's track record of management in recent years if any proof is needed.


Posted by IPFreely, a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on May 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Thanks to self proclaimed genius and man with all the answers Peter Carpenter, we need not post our uneducated comments on any subject 'cause he has a handle on just about every and any subject up for discussion on this forum (plus he lives in Atherton so...)Sometimes listening to views put forth by others is a quality of the truly educated among us.


Posted by joseph, a resident of Community Center
on May 8, 2012 at 3:08 pm

"The outstanding FAA loan guarantees are probably in excess of $20 million."

If we move the MSC and animal shelter to the airport, the existing land at the MSC and animal shellter can house 5 car dealerships which can generate $5M in sales tax and $5M in rent per year. If the outstanding FAA loan is $20M, then we recover it in two years. The city will stand to gain $10M annually subsequently. I think it is definitely a viable option for the use of this piece of land. It will benefit all the residents of Palo Alto instead of the very few airport users. I urge the city to look at the best use of this valuable piece of property. So far the city only investigate the opetions of running the airport by the county or the city. Let's investigate all the other posible use of this land, including trading land parcel and use with other existing city properties.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on May 8, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"If we move the MSC and animal shelter to the airport,"

What will it cost to move these facilities into the flood plane and how will the State and Federal authorities be convinced that this new land use on the baylands is acceptable?


I am listening for your answer.


Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 8, 2012 at 4:24 pm

It's so interesting to watch Mr. carpenter, a resident of Atherton, is always so quick to point out how it's just impossible to shut down the airport and use the land to for the benefit of the entire Palo Alto population instead of a privileged pampered few, most of whom are non-residents. It's interesting that a corporatist one percenter is concerned only with the rich and powerful and interferes in the affairs of a city of which he isn't even a resident.


Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 8, 2012 at 4:32 pm

"What will it cost to move these facilities into the flood plane and how will the State and Federal authorities be convinced that this new land use on the baylands is acceptable?

I am listening for your answer"

You seem to be very concerned about the cost to Palo Alto, while being an Atherton resident. Since you like general aviation airports so much, I expect you to start lobbying the town of Atherton to construct a general aviation airport in Atherton. We are all waiting to hear of your plans to convince your fellow Athertonians how wonderful it would be for them to have a general aviation airport in town.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on May 8, 2012 at 4:39 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

What will it cost to move these facilities into the flood plane and how will the State and Federal authorities be convinced that this new land use on the Baylands is acceptable?

What will it cost to buy out the existing airport lease holders?

What will it cost to remove all of the airport infrastructure (runways, taxiways, buildings, fuel tanks, etc.)?

I am listening for your answer.

I am not interested in your personal attacks, just the facts.

The facts are that I served as a Palo Alto Planning Commissioner for 4 1/2 years.

The facts are that I lived in Palo Alto for 16 years.

The facts are that I served on the PA Airport's Joint Community Relations Committee for 19 years.


Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 8, 2012 at 4:53 pm

The facts are that you don't live in Palo Alto right now. The facts are that when you worked as a Planning Commissioner you were biased in favor of the the rich, powerful and connected and not the average resident, which led us to the mess we are in right now.
The facts are that we are still awaiting to hear about your plans to convince your fellow Athetronians to construct an airport in your town. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Facts, not personal attacks.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on May 8, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The facts are that when you worked as a Planning Commissioner you were biased in favor of the the rich, powerful and connected and not the average resident, which led us to the mess we are in right now."

Actually during my service we rewrote the Palo Alto's comprehensive Plan - in which there is zero evidence of the alleged bias.

Next?

Oh, by the way, how is it that simple alleged residence in the esteem city of Palo Alto confers unique wisdom and expertise?


Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 8, 2012 at 6:17 pm

It seems like a certain Atherton resident seems to have all the answers and knows what's best for the city he chose to leave. Perhaps this former Palo Alto resident will he kind enough to tell us about his campaign to convince the residents of his current town, Atherton, to build a general aviation airport. Until he does, there will be a persistent cloud of suspicion hovering over him. A suspicion that he would rather have Palo Alto subsidize an airport for the use of his rich friends instead of actually living near one, and subsidizing it, himself.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 8, 2012 at 6:31 pm

You may not like Peter Carpenter's POV. Whatever.

However it is incredibly unproductive to get personal and/or throw socio-economic barbs at each other.

Grow up!


Posted by VoxPop, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 8, 2012 at 8:08 pm

@daniel: You are not contributing anything but spite and ignorance to the conversation with your unfounded attacks on Mr. Carpenter. Come up with some real data and a legitimate argument or be ignored by rational people. So far, you are a waste of time.


Posted by Alice, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 10, 2012 at 8:50 am

As a native Palo Altoan and one who had a relative living next door to Mr. Carpernter, to those who try to trash his statements please read this:

Right above where he lives is a turning point where the heavy jets power down as they apprach SFO. I had 40+ years of experiencein the backyard next to his and know first hand that jet noise is worse than 99% of all the Palto Airport (PAO) user noise above most all of Palo Alto.

I also know from having served on the PAO JCRC in the late 1980's and again now, that Mr. Carpenter worked for many years very effectively to reduce PAO npise over Palo Alto and East Palo Alto, too, changing the local departure and arrival procedures to reduce noise.... so much so that the noise complaints about PAO for all of 2011 to the Santa Clara County office now responsible for PAO noise had zero... yes zero! noise complaintz for PAO last year and just one this year.

Do I hear any calls from anyone on this forum tomcall for shutting down Highway 101 since it is noisier by measured decibel levels than PAO?

I also beg all reading this forum not to assume all using PAO are "rich". Most I know there work very hard indeed to pay for flying costs. And, an amazing number of the pilots flying commercial airlines now got their initial training at PAO since there is notnsuch a large federally-funded ex-military pilot pipelines for the airlines now. the airlines now in large part DEPEND on the small airports like PAO to develop their airline pilots. If the airlines had to pay for that initial training, airlines ticket prices will go up.... yet another reasona ALL benefit from small airports.


Posted by moffett, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 10, 2012 at 2:51 pm

The Feds want to sell Moffett Field. Private airplane owners should combine their resources and buy it. Move all the peninsula private aviation down there. The huge runways should prevent airplanes from crashing into residential neighborhoods any more.


Posted by Joseph, a resident of Community Center
on May 11, 2012 at 10:33 pm

"If we move the MSC and animal shelter to the airport,"

"What will it cost to move these facilities into the flood plain and how will the State and Federal authorities be convinced that this new land use on the baylands is acceptable?

I am listening for your answer."

According to the City, the MSC is very outdated and needs to be rebuilt. The cost is the same whether it is at its current location, at the airport or at another site. The current MSC is on a flood zone just like the airport. The existing hangers and service buildings at the airport are very old and run down, so replacing them with a new MSC is actually an improvement to the airport.

I think the airport is perfect for more playing fields and parkland. Moving the Bayland Athletic Center from Geng Road to the airport will free up the current Geng Road site for office development. It can generate cash for the city through the sale of the land. The City can use this to buy land for the much needed Public Safety Building.

I think the anaerobic digester can be build at the airport instead of the much contest issue of building it at Bixbie Park. In addition I like to see the city replace the closed recycling center with a new one at the airport. It is a much needed and appreciated service.

The city wants to be green and tries hard in many ways to lead the way. But the airport operation is the very opposite of a green business. I urge the city to consider the airport operation in light of its green goal.

The City of Santa Monica is considering shutting down its airport. It has created a process to evaluate the continued operation of the airport. It has opened a public dialog process to gather community responses on the issue. Following is an informative website Santa Monica created: Web Link. I believe Palo Alto should open a public discussion on the airport.

I don't have all the numbers on the airport. I just believe the city should consider the best or perhaps alternative use of this valuable piece of land. Let's put all the issues and numbers on the table, and then evaluate what is best for the city and the residents. Since we are in a transition period for the airport, let's do an in-depth evaluation now. Let's not commit to hiring staff to operate the airport before we do the study.


Posted by Mark Epperson, a resident of another community
on May 14, 2012 at 1:40 pm

It is very interesting reading the comments and conclusions, dubious facts and pontifications. The only real comments that made any sense was to wait and see if the airport loses or makes money for the community. I based my aircraft at PAO for 10 years until I moved to the East Bay. PAO is a busy, vibrant and important airport
for the Palo Alto community and Santa Clara county.

I have had experience with airports being transferred between entities and the wait and see attitude as to the profitablity is
wise. Most small airports in affluent communities with a high population density actually are highly profitable. There is also
the jobs, supplies, housing, rent a cars and other ancilliary
businesses that add to the value of the airport.

I would say PAO is much more a viable asset than the golf course that is across the street. Just think of all the tax
revenue if that course were developed into businesses or homes. In fact why not close all of the city recreation areas and build things to get a higher tax revenue.

Nothing ever really changes. You folks have too much time on your hands. Please volunteer your services and time, maybe even at the airport.






Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on May 14, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Since we are in a transition period for the airport, let's do an in-depth evaluation now. Let's not commit to hiring staff to operate the airport before we do the study."

That review was already done as part of the process by which the City Council decided to take over the airport - and with lots of public input.


Posted by Thanks Mark, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 14, 2012 at 2:49 pm

@Mark Epperson - Mark, thanks for your helpful suggestions on what Palo Alto should do with its airport and golf course, how to think about our recreational facilities, and your general opinion of us in Palo Alto. It is sure helpful to hear what the flying community thinks of us, especially thoughtful non-resident fliers like yourself (which I gather is most of the folks who utilize the airport).

Mark makes a good suggestion about volunteering. Perhaps, in addition to jacking up all fees for non-residents, we should require non-residents who utilize the airport to volunteer their time for various Palo Alto community services, to offset the direct and opportunity cost of maintaining an airport for their benefit. Mark I think could do a fine job picking up trash in the Baylands or perhaps cleaning Rinconado pool this summer. Again, thanks Mark and look forward to seeing you in your orange jumper this summer!


Posted by GaryAir, a resident of Mountain View
on May 15, 2012 at 10:34 am

I would like to express my most sincere gratitude and admiration for Peter Capenter's leadership and courage to express his honest opinions and personal witness to something he loves dearly and wishes others to share and benefit from as he as.

Because of courageous leaders like Peter, many of the rest of us are able to do the things we love too. We may be less eloquant and perhaps we don't have the time and resources to contribute all of the hard work, and we haven't had the benefit of his experience to help us earn his patience with others.

But I can say, because of people like Peter (who courageously uses his real name on this forum unlike some of us), I have the best job I could ever want. I get to serve the communities of California with the most excellent, hassle-free, and safe transportation option and I get paid to do it! When I flew F-14's for the US Navy, we used to joke that people actually paid us for that privlilege. Serving my neighbors in Northern California and the rest of the region west of the Rockies with Air Taxi service is far more rewarding and important in my opinion. I have folks like Peter Carpenter to thank for it. I am continuously trying to find better ways to do what we do so more people can experience what we offer. I am sad that some people don't have the means.

It sometimes seems sad that it is human nature to envy others. However, I find that what often seems like a vice turns out to have a reasonable explanation in the survival of our species. Perhaps envy can be seen as a motivator to encourage us to strive to better ourselves. In my study of my faith, as I walk in my journey to better myself and as I try to think how I can best share God's gifts with others, I find that often all things perceived as bad can often be viewed in better light when viewed from a larger perspective. I believe there is space for us all on this planet if we can love our neighbors as ourselves, and if we all work together, we can find a place for all the airports and dog shelters and aerobic digesters we need.

In the mean time, if GaryAir can serve any of you and show you how lucky you are to have Palo Alto's and Peter Carpenter's and GaryAir's airport available to you, please call us or visit our website at www.GaryAir.us!

We live in an age of unprecedented selfishness. Please be a part of the solution, rather than being part of the problem. Let others do what they love so you too can do what you love. Let's lift each other up rather than attempt to push others down into our own misery. It is not a zero-sum game. You don't have to take away something from others to have something you want. We can all have what we want if we have faith in each other and faith in something greater than ourselves.

Warmest Regards,

Dave Guerrieri


Posted by Mark Hastings, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 29, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Save the airport! It's a great asset. Any business entity can be run in the black properly managed... In fact, we should have small commuter airlines flying out of there to Los Angeles, Santa Barbara etc..Fly in restaurants and hotels out there too. I fly my little plane out of there, and play golf there as well. It's great and makes this a better place to live! Of course it will get shut eventually because the Developers will pay of the City Counsel with some nugget they can't refuse a.k.a. Pete's Harbor in Redwood City. Very Sad.


Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 29, 2013 at 8:01 pm

>Save the airport! It's a great asset.

I completely agree.


Posted by Concerned citizen, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2014 at 7:47 pm

And what about the lead that is being spewed over Palo Alto?


Posted by Jetman, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2014 at 9:02 pm

Does Lead in Aviation Fuel Endanger Public Health and the Environment?
Scientific American ~ September 3, 2012 Web Link

"Lead was long ago phased out of automobile gasoline, but it is still in aviation fuel and is now the largest source of lead emissions in the U.S. What's being done?.. aviation fuel emerged as the largest source of lead emissions in the U.S. once lead was phased out of automotive gasoline beginning in the 1970s.

Leaded Fuel Is a Thing of the Past—Unless You Fly a Private Plane
Mother Jones ~ January 3, 2013 Web Link

"...there are 16 million people living within one kilometer of those airports, and 3 million children attend schools in the same radius. According to a 2011 study by Duke University researchers, kids who live near airports have elevated levels of lead in their blood..."

Don't worry though, the FAA might have a plan to phase it out by 2028. That's right, if your kid just started school near an airport, they will spend their entire K-12 inhaling lead. What is wrong with this industry?


Posted by concerned citizen, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Please consider the lead in context of the toxic pollution from jets to SFO-the air pollution to which we are exposed is likely far more serious than the noise


Posted by Jetman, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2014 at 9:45 pm

In a new study just released last week, teams from USC and UW found that air pollution from LAX is way worse than had been previously thought. The study found elevated levels of pollutants up to 10 miles from LAX, and that the pollution from the airport rivaled the pollution from LA's freeways.

"Planes' exhaust could be harming communities up to 10 miles from LAX"
LA Times ~ May 29, 2014 Web Link


Posted by resident, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 11, 2014 at 12:33 am

concerned citizen,

"Please consider the lead in context of the toxic pollution from jets to SFO-the air pollution to which we are exposed is likely far more serious than the noise"

Definitely this last week, the pollution over Palo Alto was noticeably higher.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 11, 2014 at 12:58 am

I want to see the Palo Alto Airport go away.
I've been saying it for years.
I had no idea that there was lead in aviation jet fuel.
Is that true?
If so, is anyone actually measuring lead levels in the air?
If so, then what is the lead level, if not why not?

This leftover idea that is it OK to screw over random people as long as you spread it out all over the place and they are not "the wrong people" really does not fly in the modern world.

Almost every day I am amazed at the flights of big jets that fly over Palo Alto, and if they are dropping lead on us and the whole Bay Area something needs to be done.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2014 at 9:10 am

CrescentParkAnon.

"If so, is anyone actually measuring lead levels in the air?
If so, then what is the lead level, if not why not?"

I would want to know that as well. I tried to see if Spare the air has any air pollution comparisons, I can't find any.


Posted by Chris Zaharias, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 11, 2014 at 10:59 am

Chris Zaharias is a registered user.

I love the airport, and hope it stays open forever. My three boys have all taken great enjoyment in visiting the airport, and one is now becoming a pilot.

My $0.02


Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 11, 2014 at 11:22 am

I was at the SCVWD Meeting last night on the SF Creek. There is going to be a major upgrade on the creek between 101 and the bay. The creek is next to the runway and circles the airport. The upgrade is also going to affect the golf course. Understand the location of the airport and golf course - there will be no building of residential units, no business units there. It is a flood control property. If you believe that a developer is going to make mega-bucks there then forget that. It is not going to happen.

There are a number of flying clubs that use planes located at PAO. Many people are using those planes. Stanford has a flying club. So the planes are not necessarily single user planes - they can be registered to clubs with many users.

No one has mentioned the San Carlos Airport - home of Surf Air. There are many small planes there for recreational use that are very busy on the weekends. Many San Mateo residents are housed at that location.

Given the land is a flood control location the airport and golf course are the logical uses for that location. A city should be providing recreational facilities as part of its "selling points". And forget the addition of more soccer fields - we have enough soccer fields. It is time for the other recreational interests to be represented in the city. If you are willing to pay for the maintenance of soccer fields then you should be willing to pay for the other recreational interests in the city - even if you personally do not share that interest.


Posted by Jetman, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2014 at 12:06 pm

CrescentParkAnon,

Jets do not burn aviation gas (avgas), they burn jet fuel which is an oily substance similar to kerosene or diesel fuel. While jet fuel is not leaded, jet fuel has its own problems. The oily jet fuel is difficult to fully combust, so at lower throttle settings (<30%) jet engines spew microscopic droplets of unburned jet fuel in their exhaust.

A study conducted by scientists from Carnegie Mellon University, and published in the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Journal, found that when the exhaust from jet engines was exposed to sunlight in a smog chamber, the unburned droplets in the exhaust broke down into microscopic particles that can penetrate the lungs, and blood-brain barrier.

The researchers were shocked to find that the quantity of particles produced by this process was 35 times the number of particles originally expelled by the engine.

The heavily trafficked southern approach route to SFO, flies directly over Palo Alto High School, and the nearby Castilleja School. In the busy morning, and afternoon rush hours, these schools will typically see a jet aircraft passing overhead every six minutes at an altitude of little more than 4,000'.

"Jet Exhaust Exposed to Sunlight Produces 35 times More Particles"
News.cam.au ~ May 13, 2011 Web Link


Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 11, 2014 at 1:44 pm

If you are interested you could go to Wikipedia - Airports - California, or any other state you are interested in. It will show all of the airports in the state based on classification by type. We are not special - the number of airports in the state is very large, and the number within the same classification as PAO is very large. It could give an appreciation that the people that originally put in the airport were interested in PA being as up to date as all of the other cities. That was very forward thinking.


Posted by Jetman, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2014 at 11:04 pm

A question... if an operation like SurfAir wanted to start running a commercial passenger service out of PAO with 15-20 flight a day, would Palo Alto be able to prevent them from operating out of PAO, or would Palo Alto just have to suck it up and absorb the additional noise, risk, etc, for fear of losing their federal grant money?

SurfAir's operation in San Carlos has brought a lot of additional noise to Atherton, and Atherton seem be completely powerless to do anything about it.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2014 at 11:00 pm

Jetman,

"would Palo Alto just have to suck it up and absorb the additional noise, risk, etc, for fear of losing their federal grant money?"

Web Link

for grant money, the answer appears to be yes


Posted by Impact burden, a resident of University South
on Jun 13, 2014 at 5:49 am

If we can find a way to measure the actual disruption, risk, and pollution impact of the airport, shouldn't the planes using the airport be paying that cost?

This should be modeled on other activity, such as burning coal or oil, that allows large benefit to a few at the cost to many.

Now, those paying the price just suck it up, like nearby residents to factory polluters used to.


Posted by Jetman, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2014 at 10:47 am

Resident,

Thanks for the informative link: Web Link

"Numerous studies have suggested, however, that despite the overall benefits of airline deregulation, there are a number of factors that prevent airline passengers and the airline industry itself from enjoying the full benefits of economic deregulation. In particular, barriers to entry within the industry exist with respect to computer-reservation systems, frequent-flyer programs, travel agent commission overrides, exclusionary behavior, economies of scale of operation, and external airport constraints (e.g., the High Density Rule, airport-specific perimeter rules, and environmental constraints)."

So in other words... the "economic nondiscrimination" policies of the FAA under their AIP grant program, have no effect on competition in the hub-and-spoke system, since the established carriers have a whole host of other means to exclude new entrants.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 13, 2014 at 12:54 pm

I remember when Southwest was a new entrant.


Posted by Jetman, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Musical,

OK, but do you remember when PSA Web Link was a new entrant? :)

Pacific Southwest Airlines: Web Link

Southwest Airlines: Web Link


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 13, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Wasn't PSA the planes with the smile, I remember them.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 13, 2014 at 8:03 pm

@Jetman, PSA's founding was before my time. I noted Southwest because it was mentioned in the paragraph preceding the one you quoted: "What followed was a period dominated by large, network air carriers until Southwest Airlines altered the competitive landscape. Today, a number of low-fare carriers provide service..."

So it's not impossible to carve out a profitable niche from the established carriers.

This thread is years old -- I'm just monitoring since its recent revival a few days ago with the lead (Pb) comment. Curious about anything quantitative, say compared with mercury. Anything in nanograms per cubic meter of ambient air? Even the Bay Area Air Quality Management District doesn't have much on heavy metals. They look more at particulates, ozone, and various sulfur, nitrogen, or carbon molecules.


Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 15, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Reference to PSA and Southwest are irrelevant to this topic. PSA and Southwest were always commercial airlines flying out of LAX. They played by commercial airline rules. Surf Air does not function as a commercial airline - it has staged its legal status as a private airline based on subscription financing. One of its stated goals is to avoid TSA scrutiny. That makes San Carlos a good airport for them since the tower closes at 9:00 pm and there is no one there. The fly list is not required. That tells me a lot about Surf Air. It is not good. My suspicion is that San Carlos was hanging by a thread until Surf Air appeared. If they ever convert to a commercial airline then they would be shuttled off to San Jose, or Hayward which is classed as a Executive airport.


Posted by Jetman, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Resident 1,

Sorry about the excursion into the ancient history of the airline industry.

It sounds like if SurfAir, or another "airline", wanted to set a regular commuter service out of PAO, they could use the same slight-of-hand as SurfAir, and Palo Alto would be powerless to regulate their operations, despite owning the airport.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 15, 2014 at 6:13 pm

There was a time within my memory when Palo Alto airport did have regular daily commercial airline service direct to a half dozen destinations.


Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 17, 2014 at 2:44 pm

I was in the baylands Sunday around 5:00 PM - high tide. The whole place was inundated by water. Given the current nature of the flood control fixes planned for the creek PAO will never be able to extend their property to accommodate bigger planes. They are boxed in by water based on tide levels.

There was a very obnoxious plane that overflew the airport, made a showy turn and approach that was very fast. Keep up that type of activity then people will be complaining.

San Carlos is set up differently - the take off - landing starting point is far from the terminal centrally located so the noise level may be lessened - my opinion.


Posted by Jetman, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Resident 1,

PAO's runways are shorter than San Carlos, but given the problems associated with traveling through the major hubs (SFO & SJC), I wonder if someone (like SurfAir) is eventually going to think outside-the-box, and try to operate a regional passenger service out of PAO using smaller twin-engine planes, or some sort of STOL craft.


Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 17, 2014 at 10:17 pm

My son commented on the name "Surf Air". That denotes a mind set. Their sales documentation uses the word "disruptive" - another red flag. My bet is that they are trading on the relationship to Half Moon Bay and its incoming traffic. Also San Carlos may be open to pot stores. As you recall Palo Alto had that on the ballot and it was voted down. Lack of surveillance is what they are counting on.

I don't see how they can change planes - the financing is dependent on the subscription basis, and they are selling a "luxury" jet.

They won't find any friendly folks in PAO, especially since the FAA has an office at the airport.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 18, 2014 at 1:08 pm

I could not find the word "luxury" on the Surf Air website. And it's not a jet.


Posted by Jetman, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Resident 1,

Not sure having an FAA "office" at PAO would inoculate PAO from someone operating a regional passenger service out of PAO. At the recent FAA workshop, I was told that there is no real FAA office at PAO. It is listed as an FAA "office", but it is just a couple of FAA employees that work the PAO control tower. If this is the case, it does not seem likely they would have a whole lot of influence within the FAA.

No matter what size the FAA office is at PAO, it is difficult to believe they could (or would) be able to get Palo Alto an exemption from the the non-discrimination stipulations that all airports accept when they take FAA grant money.

Once an airport accepts FAA grant money, they have very little control of who can who fly in, or out, of their airport. The non-discrimination stipulations require the airport to accept any and all aircraft, 24/7.


Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 18, 2014 at 7:41 pm

Why are you worried about this? You are staging a "predicament" before any thing has happened. Nothing will happen until there is a transition in management. It is like you are solving the arguments before there is anything to argue about.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jun 19, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

There are often discussions on this forum about the risks of general aviation flying. Here is an excellent posting on that issue which both gives facts and presents them in perspective:

Web Link


Posted by Bill, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 19, 2014 at 1:12 pm

Yeah sure, whatever.

We're basically one terrorist or nut case with a gun away from closing all general aviation airports in major metropolitan areas.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton
on Jun 19, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"We're basically one terrorist or nut case with a gun away from closing all general aviation airports in major metropolitan areas."

If that criteria were used we would have already closed every school in the country.


Posted by Jetman, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2014 at 12:33 am

The EPA has been monitoring lead at GA airports located throughout the country including four airports in California. As of May 2013, states and local air authorities have collected and certified lead concentration data for at least 3 months from 17 airports:

SQL 0.33 ug/m^3 (San Carlos, CA)
MCC 0.17 ug/m^3 (McClelland, CA)
PAO 0.12 ug/m^3 (Palo Alto, CA)
RHV 0.09 ug/m^3 (Reid-Hillview, CA)
SEE 0.07 ug/m^3 (Gillespie, CA)
SEE 0.07 ug/m^3 (Merril, AK)
VNY 0.06 ug/m^3 (Van Nuys, CA)
S50 0.06 ug/m^3 (Auburn, WA)
DVT 0.04 ug/m^3 (Deer Valley, AZ)
WSH 0.03 ug/m^3 (Brookhaven, NY)
SSF 0.03 ug/m^3 (Stinson, TX)
S43 0.02 ug/m^3 (Harvey, WA)
FRG 0.01 ug/m^3 (Republic, NY)

The complete list is available from the EPA Airport Lead Monitoring Program Update: Web Link

Selection of Airports for the Airport Monitoring Study: Web Link


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 20, 2014 at 10:26 am

Re Jetman's table of Pb stats, worth reiterating EPA air quality standards --
1.5 ug/m^3 (standard limit as of 1978)
0.15 ug/m^3 (reduced by 10x in 2008)

I am puzzled whether airplanes have anything to do with these measured Pb levels.
San Carlos average 306 aircraft operations per day
Palo Alto average 525 aircraft operations per day
Republic (near JFK on Long Island) average 571 operations per day
(figures from AirNav; AOPA indicates similar traffic numbers)

Does San Carlos have a Pb smelter or battery recycler nearby?


Posted by Jetman, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2014 at 11:59 am

From General Aviation News:

""(San Carlos airport manager Gretchen) Kelly said she will gladly sell unleaded fuel the minute it's approved by the FAA." Perhaps one of our readers based at San Carlos can inform Kelly that the FAA first approved lead-free mogas as an aviation fuel 31 years ago.""

"San Carlos - try mogas"
General Aviation News ~ June 26, 2013 Web Link


Posted by resident 1, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 20, 2014 at 12:20 pm

San Carlos Airport is upstream from the Redwood harbor where the famous auto / metal breakdown plant is that gets on fire on a periodic basis. This is metal that is shipped to China. I think that whole area is a hazardous waste location. Why haven't they been shut down? And it is next to where CARGILL wants to build homes. That is a totally out of control area. The EPA has tested there and knows the problem but does nothing about it.


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