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Palo Alto Airport runway set for overdue repairs

Original post made on Oct 22, 2014

It didn't take long for Palo Alto to reap the benefits of taking over its namesake airport from Santa Clara County. The city has just received a federal grant that will allow it to repair the long neglected runway at Palo Alto Airport.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, October 22, 2014, 2:28 PM

Comments (36)

Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 22, 2014 at 5:24 pm

I'm glad to see this. PAO has the potential to be a real jewel for Palo
Alto. Smart growth.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 22, 2014 at 6:38 pm

if the Palo Alto Airport could be called a "jewel", it is only a jewel at the expense of devaluing all the other valuable things that exist out in the Palo Alto waterfront that because useless because of the noise from the airport. The whole area is useless when planes are flying over you ever 30 seconds to a minute making conversation impossible.

I was out there today running, and as I was coming back there was a constant roar heard all the way over to Mountain View because of the helicopter - I assume it was practicing take-offs and and landings. It just sits there and goes up and down with engines going full throttle blanketing that entire ares with noise you cannot think over. It does this many days a week.

We need to dump this airport, place of garbage and take the offensive from "entitled few" with enough money and political power to force their various pollutions, in this case noise, onto the rest of us. Palo Alto needs to start trying to make life better for the majority of Palo Altans, not just the privileged few.


Posted by Great
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 22, 2014 at 6:40 pm

Good news! "Palo Alto" shouldn't be synonymous with "dilapidated".


Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 22, 2014 at 6:52 pm

@CrescentParkAnon - You want to shut down an airport so you have a quiet place to job - who is the privileged one? You think the flight school teacher can afford to live in Crescent Park?


Posted by Affordable housing
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2014 at 7:07 pm

Mr. Recycle,

What a lovely idea. Don't do anything about CrescentParkAnon's quiet (so privileged) and if he/she leaves, it will make his/her home affordable for the flight school teacher.


Posted by Do The Math
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 22, 2014 at 7:10 pm

The taxpayers are already $41,000 in the hole. The city got $500,000 in federal money but according to this article is spending $445,586 and $500,000 on 2 consulting contracts.

That's before any work is actually bid out or -- gasp -- started.

For a city that's always late and always way over-budget, this ain't good news. Remember it's going on 10 years to synchronize the timing of one lousy traffic light on one of our most major roads, Embarcadero.

The El Camino Park is 2 years late and millions over budget. And then there's Cal Ave and of course Mitchell Park.

Remind us why we should rejoice? Remind us again how many own or share private planes.


Posted by Stan
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Oct 22, 2014 at 8:10 pm

The county shirked its responsibility to maintain the runway and it ended up paying the 10% matching funds anyway. Brilliant.


Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 22, 2014 at 8:13 pm

The real noise issue in PA is the gas leaf blower...it's everywhere, with next to no active enforcement. Why pick on the airport?

Allow a major improvement in the hangers at PAO (a real profit center).
Build a top end golf course. Put a top end hotel/motel/conference center out there. Bring back the yacht harbor. Let's not forget to ban that absurd anaerobic digestion fiasco out there. Now we're talking a jewel! Big tax cow for PA, too.


Posted by Affordable housing
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Craig Laughton,

"Put a top end hotel/motel/conference center out there"

An affordable hotel too. No leaf blowers. What happened to the idea of having bikes and intermodal transportation so you could fly privately and make up for it with biking.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2014 at 10:42 pm

Honestly, it's hard to imagine how the PAQ could be much of a money maker. A nice amenity to have for the area but also requiring a substantial investment. A high end Golf Course would make more money than airstrip which is mainly used for touch-and-go practice runs.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2014 at 8:42 am

I completely agree, the airport should be updated, upgraded, supported by better infrastructure, amenities and support businesses, and be used as a great local amenity for the local region.


Posted by The Shadow Knows.......
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 23, 2014 at 9:13 am

@ CrescentParkAnon -

I'm sure you never fly out of San Jose, San Francisco, or Oakland airports ?

Do you have any concern for the noise impacts created by those operations on their adjacent neighborhoods? Why, amazingly enough, you may in fact be partly responsible for the noise impacts here in Palo Alto from the SFO flight operations!

Hypocrisy is a funny thing sometimes..........


Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 23, 2014 at 9:55 am

Comments on above:
1. Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, etc all have golf courses. The people who do not want a golf course need to understand that PA at least has to provide the same amenities as the other surrounding cities. We do not live in a vacuum that is supported by developers who want to turn every piece of earth into a money making machine.
2. The airport is regional and supports services for the surrounding communities - Stanford hospital, etc. They need to get on board and help here since they benefit by the services provided. There should be some type record as to which hospitals and police organizations are supported by the regional airport.
3. The yacht harbor was closed because of newer standards which prevent dredging dirt with PCB's and dumping in other regions. The yacht owners were moved to Coyote Point in San Mateo County. A yacht harbor is probably not doable since the San Francisquito Creek empties into the bay at this point and is a major flood control project.
4. A hotel was proposed by Ming's - what happened there? The hotel needs to be up higher near the freeway due to potential flooding. Problem at Ming's is the major power line is going through that property - must be some type restriction regarding the power lines.
5. I agree that there should be some type of newer restrictions on what type activity is centered at the airport - we do not need helicopter training at that location - it can happen at San Jose Airport that has a bigger area to work with. Flight Schools - see them advertised - do we need new people flying over our heads learning to fly? If we are building higher buildings then that should be a consideration. Move the flight schools to San Jose Airport.
6. I feel that the greenies and their zeal for the most technically developed dump is in part a money making venture for private "consultants".
We do not need more "consultants" in that area - we are throwing money down the green drain.


Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 23, 2014 at 10:14 am

Chalk up another half million to the federal deficit and national debt.

"You think the flight school teacher can afford to live in Crescent Park?"

Maybe not, but his/her customers can, and they do; also Old Palo Alto, Woodside, Atherton, Los Altos Hills.


Posted by Mark Dinan
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 23, 2014 at 10:25 am

Mark Dinan is a registered user.

I live near the airport and have a view of the runway from my upstairs window. My main concern is noise. Most airplanes are not an issue, but there are a few that flagrantly ignore noise abatement protocol and immediately hook left after taking off over the residential areas of East Palo Alto. Additionally, helicopters taking off from the airport and hovering low over the houses here is a common problem too. There are also a few airplanes that make easily 10x the noise of other planes. There is a silver WWII era military plane that is so loud that I can't talk on the phone when it is taking off! It is like have 5 leaf blowers right outside my window. We knew there was an airport here when we bought a house on the Bay in lovely East Palo Alto, but it would be nice if the new administration rigorously enforced common sense noise abatement for the many amateur pilots that fly in and out of the Palo Alto Airport.


Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 23, 2014 at 11:19 am

I agree. There is some plane that went over all of the time in the morning- a noisy white plane. I went over to the PAO and asked why is that plane always going over houses - no good answer. The flight control tower needs to instruct all planes who are setting up for take-off to turn right out over the bay. They can visually see who is turning left - that is the control towers job to provide instructions.
We need a noise measurement at that location - is the new management working on that? They KNOW who the noisy planes are - need to advise that all contracts for lease space identify what the requirements are for noise control so planes are updated for newer parts that meet requirements - or the person takes the plane down the road o the next airport.


Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 23, 2014 at 11:50 am

[Post removed.]


Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 23, 2014 at 3:25 pm

Lets get something cleared up and off the table right now. The words profit and PAO are an oxymoron. It's a subsidized boondoggle for mostly very wealthy non residents who would never allow a general aviation in their exclusive home towns: Woodside, Los Altos Hills, Portola Valley, Atherton, etc. Who is subsidizing it? The real life owners of the land, namely the Palo Alto tax payers who charge the airport one dollar per year in rent. Every dollar the airport would make in real profit, not that it would ever happen, must be reinvested in airport. [Portion removed.]


Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Biscoli,

Thank you... well stated.


Posted by David Fleck
a resident of Atherton
on Oct 23, 2014 at 3:42 pm


The Feds are eager to hand out your tax dollars to fund airport improvements. What most of us don't understand is that the money comes with significant restrictions, including taking away any opportunity to control the ground operations of the airport such as curfews, aircraft type, commercial/private, hours of operations, etc.

These type of funding decisions deserve community input because when funding comes with significant restrictions, no city or county government should be left to make that decision without community support. Sadly most local governments that are strapped for cash will typically take the funds without properly assessing the ramifications of those funds.

By accepting the money, the City of Palo Alto has locked in 20+ years of federal requirements for airport ground operations, and locked out residents from having any say in those operations.


Posted by IndieRhythm
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 23, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Neighbors, this is disturbing if the Palo Alto airport is not able to or does not listen to residents about noise issues and ensure there are appropriate measures to keep noise levels reasonable for the health of it's residents. I've lived in my home for 17 years and never heard any aircraft noise until about 18 months ago. In the past 6-12 months it has become nearly impossible to work from home or sleep more than 2 hours at a time during the night. This is only in part due to increased traffic. It is mostly because there have been significant changes in how the FAA is directing flights into and out of SFO, Oakland, San Carlos and Palo Alto. (Note that the San Carlos airport now has a private membership airline called SurfAir that has turned the lives of many residents in Atherton and North Fair Oaks upside down with its incredibly noisy planes flying exceptionally low -- that community is in an uproar and so far has been able to do nothing to change this and the airline seems to only pay lip service to wanting to be socially responsible). We seem to have absolutely no say at all about what appropriate and healthy noise levels are for our community and taking federal grants like this in Palo Alto means we give up control here as well. For those of you who are not yet affected, you likely will be if things continue in this direction. For years we have co-existed with the airports and all of a sudden, the noise levels have changed due to lower flying aircraft and new flight patterns becoming "superhighway-like" over some of our homes. So – many of us do believe we could co-exist happily with the airports, and we'd like to support the airports, but when the city makes this kind of decision it is taking more controls out of our hands. I urge residents, especially those in favor of the airport and it's maintenance and growth, to do whatever you can to support noise controls, measurement and enforcement.


Posted by ilocsob
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 23, 2014 at 8:53 pm

[Portion removed.] Every financial report for decades has shown that the airport is profit making. These are reports from the financial people doing the finances for the airport [portion removed.]

The Santa Clara county administration has seriously helped with the confusion, by running the airport revenues into the county general fund and paying airport expenses out of the airport fund. No wonder it doesn't look good! The county's only interest has been the SJC cash cow and they're repeatedly tried to dump the other airports in Santa Clara county. Good for the FAA that they've been stringent about requiring that all citizens be taken care of, not just the big airlines.


Posted by Insomniac Now
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 23, 2014 at 9:11 pm

It's the late-night flights that are particularly annoying: 12:30 AM, 1:00AM, 1:30AM.... EVERY night.


Posted by Shut-It-Down
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2014 at 9:20 pm

> Every financial report for decades has shown that the airport is profit making.

This is false. The Santa Clara County Airport Administration can not account for the financials for several of the airports before fifteen years, or so. Some of the data made it to the computer, but before that time--there just isn't anything that qualifies as an audit trail that has any reliability.

The airport was about to crash a couple of times during the '50s. Finally, the County too over the Palo Alto Airport from it's private owners, and with the generous

contribution of free rent, the airport barely stayed afloat.

Anyone who claims otherwise, needs to produce the books from the 1950s on-wards, with the accounting reports to back up any claims of profitability.

Just not so. Also, keep in mind that there has been a large dose for Federal dollars keeping this black hole afloat. The tower was built with Federal dollars, the FAA pays for the tower operations, as well as grants for various other ammenities, from time-to-time.

For the most part, there is no meaningful accounting of the actual costs of this playland for the rich. Palo Altans should do everything in their power to extricate themselves from this very bad decisions before we find ourselves in a big lawsuit involving damages from a crashed plane piloted by someone with inadequate resources to pay for the damage he has caused by his bad judgement.


Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 23, 2014 at 11:27 pm

Anyone new to the airport issue will find the comments section of this article very informative:

"Council votes to take over Palo Alto Airport"
Palo Alto Weekly ~ August 12, 2014 Web Link


Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 24, 2014 at 12:25 am

@curmudgeon/boscoli - for every Atherton millionaire who flies a charter jet out of the Palo Alto airport, there are 30 Cessnas, that are 40 years old, are worth less than your car (or at least my car), and belong to middle class silicon valley hobbyists who work on their planes and fly on the weekends. This is not far off from complaining about the mega-yachts in the old harbor (there were none).


Posted by boscoli
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 24, 2014 at 5:56 am

Given lifetime free rent and millions in federal grants, every failing venture like PAO will be able to claim it is profitable. Every cursory examination by a first year public accounting student will show that the PAlo airport has been a colossal failure for generations. The fact that some middle class hobbyists piggy back on it doesn't change the fact that it is a playground for the rich, subsidized by the citizens Palo Alto, the worst kind of socialism.


Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 24, 2014 at 9:49 am

"for every Atherton millionaire who flies a charter jet out of the Palo Alto airport, there are 30 Cessnas, that are 40 years old, are worth less than your car (or at least my car), and belong to middle class silicon valley hobbyists who work on their planes and fly on the weekends."

Typical propaganda. But: (1) Jets don't fly out of PAO. (2) If those 30 Cessnas are worth less than my car, they're probably too rickety to be flying. (3) What work do these hobbyists do on their planes beyond washing and waxing them? (4) Why should my tax dollars subsidize their hobby? Their tax dollars don't underwrite mine.


Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 24, 2014 at 10:49 am

If these ancient planes are the major noisemakers then the owners need to get on board and upgrade the needed engine parts to reduce noise to a standard level.
Side note - we were in Idaho and stopped at an airport in Henley - there was a ancient plane club - WWI type planes. These people meet and fly somewhere else for lunch to get their miles in. Yes - there are groups that fly around in ancient planes. But what is under the hood still has to keep them up in the air so what is under the hood needs to be top flight.

Time for PAO to get all planes who have a lease spot to get their planes top flight under the hood. Also instructions to turn right on departure to stay over the bay.

What about the real estate person who advertises that he flies his customers around to check out neighborhoods and look into people's property. Should there be a law against that? That is an invasion of property.


Posted by Native Palo Altan
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 25, 2014 at 7:35 pm

I spent my first 25 years living under the approach path to PAO in Crecent Park. I now live just over the border in The Willows. I am not an Atherton millionaire but I am a pilot and learned at the Palo Alto airport when I was 17. I am not currently an active pilot since I have to boys, 5 and 7 year old.

Reading the comments about both PAO and Surf Air at San Carlos show that those who are commenting know nothing about pilots, their aircraft, and flight operations. Before they spend so much time complaining they should walk over to the airport and meet the folks. They'd find young pilots who aspire to flying careers spending all their hard-earned cash for flying time. They'd find family people (men and women) who have a passion for flying and are very grateful for their older aircraft that they can afford to fly with their families.

I won't try and refute all the inane arguments - I'd simply invite those who are complaining to come down and meet their neighbors and take an introductory flight.


Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 26, 2014 at 10:53 am

Native Palo Altan - I don't get your point here? Are you saying there is no standard that anyone is suppose to follow on how their planes are maintained to support current regulations on noise control?
If those people are leasing a spot for their plane -- indicating that PAO is their home base - then they should be accountable for following some type of guideline regarding noise abatement - and turning right out of the departure flight path.
IF a plane is not properly maintained then it is an insurance liability to the owner, the airport, and the people below.
When you get your car smog checked that is part of a set of rules of the road as to whether your car should be on the road -or not.
So what is your point? A nice guy gets to make more noise?
Have you noticed that there are more houses then 25 years ago? That flood control in the Baylands is a major issue? We have to keep pace with the increased development in the area as it is now - not 25 years ago.


Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2014 at 11:56 am

Never hurts to add a few facts to the myths. Privately-owned aircraft are required to have a thorough inspection every year that includes complying with safety notices (called "Airworthiness Directives"). Unlike auto recalls, Airworthiness Directives are mandatory. In addition inspection and safety checks on the plane before every flight are instilled in pilots from day one of flight training.

There's a bit of a misconception about left turns. Departing aircraft are requested to turn right 10 degrees on takeoff to 500 feet before starting any on course turns. From 500 feet departures can turn left, right, continue straight or reverse course depending on what the pilot requests and the tower authorizes.


Posted by resident 1
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 27, 2014 at 1:42 pm

Anonymous - so the control tower knows who is reversing pattern over 500 feet? I suspect that it is the same people all of the time. When I went over to talk to the PAO they indicated that they had less noise because the planes were over the bay or uninhabited shore. I can see reversing into the air over the city if there is a police problem or some other emergency - but people just cruising around or commuting need to exercise some thought as to what they are doing and impact to people below. I suspect that some planes on the weekend are checking out the football games at SU.
I am still going to check up on some white plane that goes down south over the houses.


Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Oct 27, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Dumbarton-Left and Dumbarton-Right are the standard departures from Palo Alto Airport. That is, take off and veer right 10 degrees for the climb and go straight all the way past the Dumbarton auto bridge before turning left for the coast or right for the east bay. By that time you're at 1200 to 1500 feet.

Planes staying "in the pattern" for practice will turn right at about Cooley Landing and make the circuit that anybody who hikes out there becomes familiar with. Altitude should be 800 feet.

Other departures are possible and arrivals come into the mix and everything reverses when the wind changes, but in any case, between 7 am and 9 pm everyone must ask for clearances from the control tower and follow instructions.

Regarding sightseeing over Stanford Football games, that's a Federal Offense unless authorized.

@Mark Dinan -- you're clearly in a position to observe noise abatement violations. If they were more frequent, maybe I cound stumble upon one sometime and hear the exchange with air traffic control. And as far as I know, helicopters also need local ATC clearance to do anything under 1500 feet within 3 miles of the airport.


Posted by ilocsob
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 28, 2014 at 7:45 pm

"
> Every financial report for decades has shown that the airport is profit making.

This is false. The Santa Clara County Airport Administration can not account for the financials for several of the airports before fifteen years, or so. Some of the data made it to the computer, but before that time--there just isn't anything that qualifies as an audit trail that has any reliability.
"

Again, you're on the wrong track. This behavior by the county first came to light in the late 1980's, which actually is "decades ago". Just because it's not on a website or the county claims they can't find it doesn't mean it didn't happen. In fact that's a common way to avoid embarrassing questions, and given SC's egregious behavior over the decades fits them to a T. Some of us have been around long enough to remember what went on.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 31, 2014 at 2:33 am

> Posted by The Shadow Knows - a resident of Crescent Park


You make a lot of unwarranted attacks Shadow ....


> @ CrescentParkAnon -
> I'm sure you never fly out of San Jose, San Francisco, or Oakland airports ?

Either way, what would it matter?


> Do you have any concern for the noise impacts created by those operations on their adjacent neighborhoods?

Again, what would it matter. Should I also be fighting the people who live under Heathrow airport in the UK. But to answer, of course I have concern for any environmental pollution anywhere that is forced on people anywhere. In this case airplane noise is best discussed and handled locally ... do you disagree?

Why do get to assume automatically that I don't care about other neighborhoods, and then when you don't know call me a hypocrite?


> Hypocrisy is a funny thing sometimes..........

Name calling? Calling me a hypocrite based on nothing, a bunch of implicit questions you assume my answers to that are irrelevant to the issue anyway. Rude and not helpful.


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