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Palo Alto lands airport manager

Original post made on Apr 23, 2013

Palo Alto has yet to take over the operations of its namesake airport, but it has already hired the man who will be in charge of steering the small but bustling facility to success. The city announced Monday that it has tapped Andrew J. Swanson, former manager of Nut Tree Airport in Solano County, to be the the city's first airport manager.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, April 22, 2013, 10:44 PM

Comments (20)

Posted by Hooray
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 23, 2013 at 9:29 am

This is good news. It is a real jewel.

Posted by Retired Staffer
a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2013 at 11:44 am

Palo Alto can't pay its current employees but can hire a manager for an airport that serves residents of everyplace but Palo Alto. As a former San Mateo airports manager he'll be quite familiar with his customers.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 23, 2013 at 12:04 pm

I'm a resident and use KPAO (as a lowly Cessna renter).

Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2013 at 2:13 pm

An unnecessary position for a totally unnecessary airport and a chronic and perpetual money loser, where the Palo Alto tax payers are subsidizing a pastime activity for mostly rich hobbyists, mostly non-resident.

If you want to explain to a young kid the meaning of "White Elephant", just point them toward the Palo Alto airport.

Posted by not keen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Why start paying anyone until 2017, when the county lease expires?

The airport is never going to be a moneymaker in reality, only in the fevered imaginations of the city council and their pied piper, Mr. Keene.

Posted by lazlo
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2013 at 5:04 pm in the past two weeks the city has hired two unemployed "friends" of the current city manager into two new management positions costing resident taxpayers in excess of $400,000 in annual combined salary and benefit packages. So while the new management position "Airport Manager" has no official duties and the County has said they do not intend to renew the lease after 2017, what will this new manager do for the next 4 years that requires taxpayers to subsidize his salary of $128,000 (plus benefits)? Continuing to subsidize "friends of friends" newly created management positions is unsustainable and is a slap in the face to resident taxpayers. What a pity!

Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2013 at 5:21 pm

This airport has ZERO chance of ever being profitable, even with the $1 per year lease which the Palo Alto tax payers have gifted it for so many decades, mindlessly, I might add. It has been a perpetual money loser and will continue to be one. So this salary is just an act of dumping more money down a bottomless drain, aka as Socialism for the rich and Capitalism for all others.

Posted by kane
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 23, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Haters gonna hate... This is a great move for the city -- it can proceed to take over the airport early from the county, and prevent it from further deterioration due to neglect.

The airport has been a "money loser" according to the county, because the county was required by the lease to keep all profits in Palo Alto. If the airport "lost" money (for example by subsidizing the other county airports), the the county needed less money for them. In reality (according to a city audit and an airport consultant study), the Palo Alto airport pays for itself.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 23, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Web Link

"The daily operations of the County Airports are funded entirely by airport users fees and budgeted using the Airport Enterprise Fund. The airport department is completely self-sufficient; it does not use any General Fund tax dollars. Some special projects receive additional funding from the FAA and Caltrans."

Posted by lazlo
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2013 at 7:09 pm

Santa Clara County has a lease that extends through 2017 and has not stated that it intends to relinquish control of airport activities prior to the end of their contract with the city. So what does a Airport Manager that has no authority on any matters concerning Palo Alto Airport do for four years at a cost of over a $500,000 to taxpayers? Great move.....right!

Posted by Don
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 23, 2013 at 7:24 pm

We are lucky his salary is "only" $128K unlike other hires who are paid something north of $16o or $170K.

A few good questions above that should be answered - including a spread sheet of the operations debits and credits. All in the interest of "transparent" government which Keene espouses.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 23, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Think of all the money that could be save and the land that could be dedicated for the use of ALL Palo Altans out by the Baylands ... not to mention all the noise in the Baylands and over Palo Alto, and the risk of crashes that could be completely eliminated if we could get rid of this airport and replace it with a park or for any other use. This is prime waterfront property that the Palo Alto Airport makes unusable by its existence and ruins most of the rest of the recreational area in the Baylands because of all the noise.

Go out there and try to have a conversation with someone within half a mile of the airport. It's miserable.

Let's have some quiet and some democracy and figure out what we can do about getting rid of this airport, not creating expensive jobs that do nothing for over 99% of Palo Alto.

Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 24, 2013 at 6:45 am

Kane, the airport is getting the land lease-free from the Palo Alto the tax payers who own the land. If it had to pay lease at current market rates is would suffer much heavier loses that even its supporters wouldn't be able to conceal. Additionally, this land is highly valuable and Palo Alto could use it for the benefit of its residents, instead of giving it away for free for the benefit of a few, mostly non-residents.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 24, 2013 at 7:48 am

boscoli, go ahead and argue the use, but the airport land is claimed by the city and if our city airport paid a lease at market rate, we would be paying ourselves.

I'm not clear on how the city originally appropriated that section of tidal marshland, from the state, or from San Mateo County? Somebody moved the boundary a century ago by rerouting San Francisquito Creek.

Posted by musical
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 24, 2013 at 1:54 pm

musical, the airport has been managed for may years by Santa Clara county and if we charged them lease at market rate they would have have been even deeper in the red, or more likely would have abandoned managing the airport many a very long time ago.

Since the pilots have resisted any real increases in their user fees and hanger fees, threatening each time to go to court, the notion of raising the fees in order to make it profitable are a fantasy. This will continue to be a simple case of flushing money down the drain, and this time the loses will probably have to be made up out of the general fund.

Posted by Jake
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Excellent, in less than a week the City Manager and City Council have added two new positions and two new managers to the City payroll? Last week it was a new "Chief Information Officer" and this week a new Airport Manager.
Again I find it real interesting that none of the local media has taken a moment to or taken a break from patting itself on the back for "being the champion of providing the public it's right to information" to actually do some reporting and dig below the surface and report on who and what departments in the City the last 10-20 years have grown and added positions/managers and percentage of growth of the same relative to dept size?
I"m sorry but a $175,000 a year plus benefits for a Chief Information Officer would pay for a lot of school crossing guards, police program, fire station 8, bicycle safety program, etc.
The City Manager is building himself quite the little empire it appears and keeping the KoolAid bowl on a free re fills mode for the City Council (and local media apparantly).
Starting to look and feel like the Bush administration is alive and well in PA of all places. Next look for Karl Rove being named senior advisor to the City Manager

Posted by Amused
a resident of Meadow Park
on Apr 25, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Yeah, let's make Palo Alto less interesting, it should be covered with housing, and have there be absolutely nothing to do.

The airport is beautiful, and could be even more so, naturally all the people that want to use it for something else have never used the airport, so it's "obvious" to them it's a waste.

Honestly, I'm pretty sure when you moved to Palo Alto you knew there was an airport, and if you didn't that's on you. So either take advantage of such a jewel, expand your capabilities, or stop complaining.

Honestly some of the complaints are along the lines of:
"I moved into my house, but the neighbors house is so ugly, I should force them to remodel it"

*sigh* Some people just don't understand life. But that's nothing new.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 25, 2013 at 3:16 pm

When HSR comes through we'll have to take down that tall redwood tree at San Francisquito Creek. City can probably get some good money for the lumber and make tax-payers happy.

Posted by not keen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Jake: you make an excellent point about Mr. Keene's constant invention of new managerial positions,and I hope that Dave Price of the Daily Post reads your message and follows up on it. The Palo Alto Weekly probably won't; it never sustained its investigation of the Arrillaga Towers project at 27 University, and the city manager's secrecy about that.

Fyi, the next appointment to the public-paid trough is going to be a sustainability manager, according to a city source I saw last week. One might ask, sustainability of what, exactly? Council-developer cronyism, city-"management" self-proliferation, invention of spurious needs and denial of real needs???

Posted by watchdog
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 27, 2013 at 4:15 pm

The city had a sustainability manager until June 2012, Debra van Duynhoven. The job description was something like this: Manage multidisciplinary groups in developing projects, programs and policies to further the city’s sustainability strategy. Develop and report key metrics for green building programs, internal employee engagement program, zero waste, and greenhouse gas emissions reduction.

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