Palo Alto goes full throttle on airport takeover | December 10, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - December 10, 2010

Palo Alto goes full throttle on airport takeover

City Council decides to take control of Palo Alto Airport operations before its lease with the county expires

by Gennady Sheyner

Palo Alto's effort to take control of its airport began to lift off the ground Monday night after the City Council started a new fund to pay for airport operations.

This story contains 537 words.

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Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be e-mailed at


Posted by Old Palo Altan, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 7, 2010 at 1:27 am


The airport is an asset of immense value to the entire community, and it's good to see the Council stepping up to ensure proper stewardship of this gem.

Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Dec 7, 2010 at 10:29 am

The Palo Alto Airport has been a financial black hole since it was moved to the baylands. In the 1950s, the then operator was constantly demanding a handout from one level of government, or another, as the following articles from local papers of the time attest:

Web Link

Moreover, there is little evidence that the Palo Alto Airport (PAO) provides anything of economic value to Palo Alto, or the Palo Alto City Government. And, given the 02.17.10 crash of a plane on IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) in East Palo Alto that resulted in the lost of power for Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, and elsewhere, the lost of income, business, and productivity can easily be shown to be in the millions:

Estimation of Economic Loss Due To 02.17.10 PAO/EPA Crash:
Web Link

People who applied for compensation because the power went out were told, rather arrogantly: "We don't have to supply you power, even though we are the monopoly power provider in this town" (or words to that effect).

No one on the City Council has ever officially spoken about the economic impact of this crash, or future crashes. They seem to be people who are being led around by one particular council member, like sheep.

There seems to be no interest in safety at this facility by the current operator, and it's hard to believe that there will be much interest if the City of Palo Alto takes over this facility.

This airport has never been able to take care of itself. The claim that it provides a "positive impact on the local economy" is simply without proof.

Posted by Joel, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 7, 2010 at 11:48 am

It is a shameful environmental choice to keep an elite group of carbon users on the bay in a city that prides itself on the care of the earth and its carbon use by its citizens. May the Tides rise on us!

Posted by Rob Tanner, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 7, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Hallelujah! Good to see that the City Council has sided with the voices of reality and reason, and rejected the knee-jerk NIMBY scare tactics spewed by Wayne Martin and others.

The airport is staying. Full stop. That much is clear. Time for Palo Altans to accept it and let us all work together to make sure it operates at optimal efficiency and financial return.

Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 7, 2010 at 2:05 pm

The airport is a financial and environmental disaster, on top of being a constant mortal threat to neighboring communities. It is also a shameful example of the well-to-do being subsidized by the tax payers. It's telling that the pilots have ed the county when they were asked to pay fees closer to real market rates and the county capitulated. This white elephants must be deactivated. There are legal ways to do it and they must be explored.

Posted by Charles, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 7, 2010 at 2:41 pm

What is this profit? Unlike other enterprise funds, earnings cannot be returned to the City but must be reinvested in the airport. But any losses will have to be made up by city taxpayers.

I didn't hear the council address the problem/cost of liability last night. Is the City liable for accidents like the recent crash into East Palo Alto? How much insurance must be carried? Who pays for it?

Why is this a "shining jewel"? A small percentage of the airport users live in Palo Alto while the majority live in other cities and are subsidized by PA taxpayers.

It is a guess as to how much "profit" will be made especially if tie-down fees are increased to maintain the facility and aircraft owners leave. I call this a lose - lose deal.

Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 7, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Not only will the city be required to reinvest all profits in the airport, it would be liable for any fatalities, injuries and property damage caused by airplanes using this airport. This would require very high insurance premiums, financed of course by the Palo Alto tax payers, while the large majority of the airport users are not Palo Alto residents. A major catastrophe, which is probably more a question of when than a question of if, would probably force the city to settle for perhaps tens of millions of dollars and guess who would pay for that. We already have a record of what happens when the airport administration tries to increase user fees-the pilots go to court, so if anything, I expect the airport to lose even more money under city management and those loses will again be subsidized by the Palo Alto tax payer.

Posted by PA Booster, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Dec 8, 2010 at 3:24 pm

"Not only will the city be required to reinvest all profits in the airport, it would be liable for any fatalities, injuries and property damage caused by airplanes using this airport. This would require very high insurance premiums, financed of course by the Palo Alto tax payers"

Where's your civic pride? This is a small price to pay for yet another Only In Palo Alto achievement. Look: Menlo Park, Atherton, Cupertino, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills can only USE the airport. Palo Alto, on the other hand, HAS the airport, like it also has the regional sewage treatment plant.

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