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Group Forming to Address Palo Alto Airport Impacts on Quality of Life

Original post made by Aviation Limits, Midtown, on Feb 1, 2016

If you are bothered by low flying, loud prop planes and helicopters, (GA aircraft) you are not alone! These are not commercial airliners, but at least as loud and more polluting--not environmentally friendly modes of transportation. We have seen too many low propeller planes over schools, our parks, and our homes, and helicopters barely clearing the neighborhood treetops or hovering while we walk the baylands.

We may have found a number for Palo Alto Airport or emailed complaints, but to no avail. Nothing is improving, even though PAO is owned by our city. If you are frustrated with the City Gov't's pro-airport stance, including the plan to take FAA funds for airport improvements and to expand operations, then it is time for you to join this group.

Just send an email to [email protected] and you will be informed of our first organizational meeting. More aviation growth is not what this region needs!


Comments (132)

Posted by Problem Solver
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 1, 2016 at 6:57 pm

That land ought to serve all of Palo Alto, not a select wealthy few. To begin, that nice long runway would make a dandy parking lot.


Posted by Jetmen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 1, 2016 at 9:25 pm

Maybe even more disturbing than the noise from Palo Alto Airport (PAO), is how blithely the PACC has gone about selling off current and future governance of the airport to the FAA, in exchange for AIP grants, which can only be used to further the FAA's agenda of expanding PAO's capacity.

One also has to wonder how the council's obsequious behavior in negotiating the transfer of PAO "sponsorship" from Santa Clara County, colored the FAA's decision to build three noisy "nextgen" aircraft superhighways over Palo Alto.

Was the council blinded to the moral hazard in this deal, by the lure of FAA funded airport expansion serving as a catalyst for gentrification east of 101?


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 1, 2016 at 9:50 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"the lure of FAA funded airport expansion serving as a catalyst for gentrification east of 101?"

Please explain this non sequitur.

If, as you espouse, airports are a horrible thing then how can PAO be a catalyst for gentrification?


Posted by Mary
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 2, 2016 at 9:00 am

It's about time someone addressed this issue. Thank you. The Palo Alto Airport is a taxpayer funded playpen for wealthy people - most of whom are not even Palo Alto residents. The majority of non-PAO using residents of Palo Alto put up with the noise and pollution of aviation hobbyists but are expected to subsidize this nuisance source with taxpayer funded city staff time . There are plenty of uses that the PAO land could be put to that are more consonant with the values of the majority of Palo Alto residents (more parkland at the Baylands - all of which would be immensely quieter as a consequence of no more airpland noise).

Let's get started on the pobably long road to closing the airport.


Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows

on Feb 2, 2016 at 10:47 am

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Posted by Andrea Wolf
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 2, 2016 at 12:55 pm

@Aviation Limits

When you are walking the baylands you are in the flight path for the airport! Of course there are planes overhead. Why is your "hobby" of walking the baylands more important than someone else's "hobby" of flying a small aircraft? By the way, many people who are private pilots are not rich. They simply use their disposable income on one thing - their small aircraft. Personally, all the restaurants in town bother me - I don't eat at them and I have no interest in them. They bring car traffic to town and I don't like that. However, I would not dream of starting a petition to get rid of Palo Alto's restaurants. In case you are missing my analogy, let me speak plainly, for many in this town eating out is a hobby. It's not my hobby and I wish Palo Alto didn't have so many restaurants, but I accept it as part of living in a community. Many of the general aviation pilots that I know rarely to never eat out. Why? Because they are not rich and they choose to spend their money on their planes.

Palo Alto has had a general aviation airport since the late 1920's - at that time it was located near the present day Stanford Stadium. Between 1934 and 1936 a the current Palo Alto Airport was built at it's new location by the Bay. Are you aware that the modern pilot of a small aircraft is the heir to the Wright Brothers? We would not have airplanes at all if there hadn't been individuals that wanted to fly. Do you honestly believe that all those people who developed the technology to fly were just doing it to improve transportation? Some people actually like to be alone with their thoughts and up in the air. Furthermore, it is possible for our community's young people to go out to the airport and learn how to fly, this skill can lead to employment. Isn't giving young people a place to acquire skills that could ultimately lead to a job something we can all support?

As far as the alleged problem of helicopters bothering this community, are you aware that many of the helicopters that fly in and out of the Palo Alto Airport are emergency helicopters refueling after transporting a patient to or from the Stanford Hospital? Would you rather that these people be transported by car, thereby delaying necessary treatment and causing more traffic in the area?

Lastly, I would like to comment to you "Mary" that your idea of getting rid of the airport is equivalent in my mind to telling everyone in our community to stop riding a bicycle. After all now that we have cars we don't "need" bicycles. Many people in this area bicycle in the hills as a "hobby." These cyclists can be dangerous to pedestrians and annoying to drivers of cars, it's unnecessary in this day and age to ride a bicycle, and some of those bicycles are so expensive that only a "rich" person could buy them.

Maybe if we all treated each other's interest's with a bit more respect we could all get along better. For myself, I am fine putting up with an excess of restaurants and bicycles in this area, perhaps you could show the same respect and stop attacking general aviation.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2016 at 4:38 pm

I hope all of you who complain about the Palo Alto airport serving non-Palo Alto resident hobbyists, never use Shoreline Park, Shoreline Amphitheater, Shoreline movie theaters, San Antonio or Menlo Safeway, and various other recreational activities in neighboring cities? Or would you prefer each city to have its own airport serving its own residents only?

Palo Alto airport is a regional airport. It is not just for Palo Altans.

We would be a lot better off if we started serving the flying community better by having some better facilities near the airport.


Posted by Alice H.
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 2, 2016 at 4:49 pm

The Palo Alto Airport was founded in 1936. If you purchased your house before that date, you have every right to complain about the noise of the aircraft. If you purchased/rented your house in any of the years following, you should have done due diligence and found out that there was an airport before you moved in. The same applies to freeway noise if you live close to 101.


Posted by Aviation limits
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 2, 2016 at 8:23 pm

Hmmm...let's vote on restaurants and bicycles vs. prop planes as a benefit to the community. Which causes more harm?

GA prop plane supporters cannot argue with the facts:

Most of those using PAO are not residents of East PA or PA, the cities most impacted by the frequent disruptions of planes and helicopters.

Prop planes overhead entertain the few in them, and perhaps those who enjoy the noise and intrusion over their properties. The rest suffer pollution of all types, with no benefit at all.

The "Benefits" Myths:

1. Airport Day. A joyous community event, or advertising for flight schools and propaganda? We have an aviation museum and an airport in San Carlos. Planes to be seen everyday, and planes to charter or lease for a ride if that pastime is so desirable.

2. Flying students who will one day pilot commercial jets--really? Show the stats. The Air Force Academy does a bang-up job of training pilots. Most riding circles over the Baylands are fun seekers--it's not as though one has to learn to fly a plane to get a job.

3. Rescue and Angel Flights: How many a day....two or fewer? Reason enough to keep a whole airport running 365 days, 24/7? it is a false choice since Stanford could put fuel on the ground at Stanford and let helicopters refuel and wait for a helipad there. SQL and RHV and Moffett would land any non-emergency medical planes just fine.

4. The emergency preparedness myth: Be real. The runway will not likely survive the earthquake any better than roads out on the bay mud. Helicopters can land in a field or parking lot.

5. Airport businesses pay taxes to PA! Wow, is that the kind of business we need? A few people flying in an airplane for pleasure/sight-seeing is like joy-riding in cars--environmentally degrading, darn selfish, and unnecessary. That operation is in the red, anyway, so the business tax revenues Would end up back at PAO supporting operations.

6. PAO is our history and must be preserved at all costs. Well, the history books show the airport was already booted from Stanford Ave to its current location. New turns to history are made every day. The effects on student learning at the Stanford campus grade school and lead contamination issues were facts that sent the airport to the Baylands.

Now we know the value of Baylands for our community and should consider why an airport is right for the environment. It should be a relic of the past: like leaded gas cars, and dirty industry inside city limits. Cities learn, and outgrow some ways of the past that are incompatible with the quality of life and values new generations hold. It is time for this city to ask if we NEED to support an airport. The questions and facts need to be aired in public and through open dialogue with our citizens, not under the advice of a few aviation proponents who write the report with no community input. Where is democracy and transparency when it comes to seeing the truth about PAO?





Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2016 at 8:41 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 2, 2016 at 8:53 pm

Totally agree, and have thought so for a very long time now. Airplane noise has gotten to the point they do not even bother to try to minimize it.


Posted by Too Bad
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 2, 2016 at 10:26 pm

"If you purchased/rented your house in any of the years following, you should have done due diligence and found out that there was an airport before you moved in."

So you can't complain about your neighbor's garage band practicing at 3 AM if they prove they were doing it before you moved in, right?


Posted by Overbuzzed
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 2, 2016 at 10:33 pm

"If, as you espouse, airports are a horrible thing then how can PAO be a catalyst for gentrification?"

Because a gentrified East Palo Alto would have the political clout to kabosh the low altitude cowboy overflights which its formerly impoverished and powerless populace has been forced to tolerate.


Posted by Alice H.
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 3, 2016 at 7:41 am

@Too Bad - Well, there's a difference. The band practicing at 3 am is probably breaking the law. These planes are not.

Regarding complaints about "hobbyists" who use the airport - I'd close down the golf course. I don't play golf. I consider it a waste of space and a waste of water resources. But, then again, the golfers mights want to close down the dog park I use three or four times a week because they don't have dogs and consider the space better used for batting practice for Little Leaguers. And on, and on, and on.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2016 at 7:50 am

It is reasonable to assume that a house with a garage will not have bands playing in them at 3.00 am. It is reasonable to assume that an airport will have planes.

Those against Palo Alto airport had better be very careful with anything in town they don't use as the same argument can be made about most amenities.


Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows

on Feb 3, 2016 at 8:52 am

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.


Posted by Too Bad
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 3, 2016 at 7:09 pm

"The band practicing at 3 am is probably breaking the law."

I doubt very much there is a law against band practice per se. You can call the cops if it annoys you, but they have no legal basis to go beyond advising the musicians they are annoying a neighbor, in which case the band members tell the officer they had been practicing long before you moved in, so you have no right to complain.

You see, you aver they can establish the priority right to pollute your bedroom with noise, just like airplanes establish a right to fly and make noise over all our houses. So grin and bear it.


Posted by Kate
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 4, 2016 at 8:26 am

@Too Bad

It is true that there is no law against band practice at 3am, but there are rules governing the decibel level allowed in residential areas (City of Palo Alto Noise Ordinance 9.10.030, Web Link


Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 4, 2016 at 11:26 am

"The Air Force Academy does a bang-up job of training pilots."

False. Academy grads start flight school after graduation and commissioning. Flight school is run by USAF, not the USAFA.


Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 4, 2016 at 3:57 pm

"The Palo Alto Airport was founded in 1936. If you purchased your house before that date, you have every right to complain about the noise of the aircraft."

You're mixing apples (people) and oranges (airport, property). Let's try to sort them out.

Oranges (airport, property) first. Since my house and my neighbors' houses were built well before 1934, your logic says airplanes from that airport have no right to fly over our properties without our permission. You'll help us enforce that, right?

Now the apples (people). My neighbors and I bought our houses at various times. Some inherited them, so the chain of ownership goes way back. Some of us have been here since before some of those pilots began flying out of PAO, and some not. Your logic says that the pilots who were flying out of PAO BEFORE my neighbors bought their houses have the inherent right to fly over those neighbors' houses. Then per your logic, pilots who began flying out of PAO AFTER my neighbors bought their houses lack that right and must get permission before overflying their houses, avoiding overflight until they have it. You'll help us enforce that, right?

If that seems dizzying, well, it's your own logic.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 4, 2016 at 4:06 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

There is nothing in aviation law that suggests or requires "first rights" to determine who may fly where.

PAO was built by local government pursuant to the will of the people.

PAO is maintained by both local government and grants from the FAA (via the Airport Improvement Grant program).

The law has long ago established that the FAA has sole control over airplane operations both in flight and on the controlled portion of any airport.


Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 4, 2016 at 7:56 pm

"PAO was built by local government pursuant to the will of the people."

And it can and should be shut down the same way.


Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 4, 2016 at 8:57 pm

"There is nothing in aviation law that suggests or requires "first rights" to determine who may fly where."

Then let's bury "The airport was there first" fallacy for all time.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 4, 2016 at 11:52 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Do not confuse that fact that "There is nothing in aviation law that suggests or requires "first rights" to determine who may fly where" with the fact that someone who buys a home near an airport does so in full recognition of the fact that the home is near an airport.


Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 5, 2016 at 9:58 pm

"Do not confuse that fact that "There is nothing in aviation law that suggests or requires "first rights" to determine who may fly where" with the fact that someone who buys a home near an airport does so in full recognition of the fact that the home is near an airport."

But you just stated that the airplanes have no "first rights" to fly anywhere. In a succinct phrase you repudiated a basic tenet of private pilot arrogance. Welcome to the bright side.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 5, 2016 at 10:01 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The law has long ago established that the FAA has sole control over airplane operations both in flight and on the controlled portion of any airport.


Posted by Mary
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 7, 2016 at 11:00 am

The airport is run by the City at great expense of staff time and effort and the City is at risk for losses incurred there. Many PA residents find the nuisance noise from the airport objectionable. Most users of the airport are non-PA residents (most of the planes are owned by wealthy Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley, etc. residents.) So the effort to close the airport is eminently reasonable.

The comparisons to dog parks and golf courses are inapt. The City has the right to close these city-provided amenities also - but there aren't widespread complaints about them. If you're bothered by them, start a group like MIdtown. You'll probably face a lot less opposition than Midtown: Aviation hobbyists are a wealthy and influential elite who vigorously support their privilege.

Similarly the argument that the airport has been here since 1936 has little weight. The City had for many years a Sea Scouts facility in the Baylands, but it was closed a decade or so ago when conditions changed and the people decided environmental considerations outweighed the Sea Scouts interests.

Sure the airport offers some benefits - like emergency access, but it's perfectly reasonable to conclude that costs, financial risks and noise outweigh the benefits. Seems like many residents feel this way. I do. Let's talk about closing the airport.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 7, 2016 at 12:05 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Mary - Now that the City has taken over ownership and responsibility for the Palo Alto Aiport the airport will, moving forward, be paid for by user fees and rental income.

Web Link

"
The City of Palo Alto took over operation of the Palo Alto Airport from the County of Santa Clara in August 2014. The Airport Fund Capital Improvement Program (CIP) accounts for activ- ities related to the construction and replacement of the Airport's infrastructure necessary to operate and maintain the airport. The Palo Alto Airport is a federally obligated airport which receives federal funds for airport operations and capital improvement projects. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) established grant assurances to which airport operators must adhere in order to receive federal funds. For detailed information on the maintenance and oper- ations of the airport, please refer to the Adopted Operating Budget.
For the Fiscal Year 2016-2020 CIP, expenditures of $496,000 are included, with $472,000 for Fiscal Year 2016. It is important to note that the FAA provides grants to public agencies for the planning and development of public-use airports and reimburses 90% of the cost of eligible projects. Staff intends to continue applying to the FAA for grant eligible capital improvement projects to ensure a safe and well-maintained airport. Staff will also apply for State grant matching opportunities when available."

"AIRPORT FUND
Description
The Palo Alto Airport serves as a general aviation reliever airport to the Bay Area’s major air carrier airports. It is the third busiest airport in the Bay Area averaging 180,000 annual operations; open 24 hours each day, 365 days annually; and has a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) staffed air traffic control tower.
Accomplishments
 City Council approval of all agreements for the Airport’s transfer from the County to City effective August 2014.
 Defunded the Temporary Airport Terminal CIP and saved a total of $140,000 by having in- house staff update the terminal building to a comfortable and safe condition and
installed Wi-Fi for staff and visitors.
 Completed and received FAA approval for the Airport Layout Plan (ALP).
 Grant was awarded by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for PAO runway/taxiways rehabilitation project. The project was completed and addressed non-standard conditions identified in the recent ALP update to ensure compliance with FAA standards and improved airfield safety.
 Submitted a Five Year Airport Capital Improvement Plan to FAA and State Division of Aeronautics (Caltrans). This plan addresses the needed pavement rehabilitation and safety enhancements of the airport and identifies the need to fund an Airport Master plan for the future planning of the airport.
Initiatives
 Continue to seek grant opportunities from the Federal Aviation Administration.
 Begin design of the apron reconstruction project.
 Develop an Airport Business Plan.
 Evaluate and prepare Request for Proposal for the two major fixed based operators.
396 PUBLIC WORKS • CITY OF PALO ALTO FISCAL YEAR 2016 ADOPTED BUDGET
Goals and Objectives
GOAL 1
Operate a safe and viable airport as an enterprise fund while controlling expenses and generat- ing sufficient revenues.
Objectives:
 Begin developing request for proposal to contract with fixed based operators, tenants, and lessees.
 Annually submit updated Five-Year Airport Capital Improvement Project (ACIP) work plan to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as required for eligibility for grant funding.
GOAL 2
Provide high quality, cost-effective oversight of the Airport’s capital improvement plan.
Objectives:
 Submit grant applications to FAA for multi-phase projects that ensure efficiency and airfield safety.
Key Performance Measures
PERCENTAGE OF TIE-DOWNS LEASED
PUBLIC WORKS
Goal
To maximize vacant tie down spaces.
Objective
To increase tenant occupancy by providing a safe, aesthetically pleasing and profitable airport.
FY 2013 Actual
FY 2014 Actual
FY 2015 Adopted
FY 2015 Estimated
FY 2016 Adopted
Percentage of tie-downs rented.
N/A
N/A
N/A
63%
68%
Description
The City of Palo Alto operates and maintains the Palo Alto Airport and provides airport users with safe transportation options with a high level of airport services. The airport has at total of 510 tie-down spaces. Of these, the City administers 350 tie-down spaces for aircraft storage that can be leased directly from the City.
Purpose
Utilizing the available spaces will increase revenue and will provide funding to revitalize the Palo Alto Airport without changing or increasing the current airport footprint. Tie-down and apron areas that are in disrepair are not available for leasing and unsightly. Providing a safe, well maintained and attractive airport will appeal to the tenants, pilots, visitors, outside agencies, residents and the flying community at large.
Status
Airport staff are responsible for maintaining 102.4 acres of airport facilities, infrastructure and equipment; and managing over 200 current tenant leases. In FY 2015 the percentage of leased tie-downs is at 63%.
PUBLIC WORKS • CITY OF PALO ALTO FISCAL YEAR 2016 ADOPTED BUDGET 397
PUBLIC WORKS
Workload Measures
Budget Summary
FY 2013 Actual
FY 2014 Actual
FY 2015 Adopted
FY 2015 Estimated
FY 2016 Adopted
The FAA defines workload measures for airports with air traffic control towers as the number aircraft operations (sum of landings and takeoffs).
N/A
N/A
N/A
180,000
181,000
FY 2013 Actuals
FY 2014 Actuals
FY 2015 Adopted Budget
FY 2016 Adopted Budget
FY 2016 Change $
FY 2016 Change %
Dollars by Division
Airport Administration
65,334
417,278
421,840
713,548
291,708
69.2%
Airport Operations
180,923
48,950
541,272
194,315
283,043
52.3%
CIP Airport Fund
—
—
—
628,884
(1,116)
—%
Total
246,257
466,228
963,112
1,536,747
573,635
59.6%
Dollars by Category Salary & Benefits
Healthcare
5,250
26,247
53,886
69,451
15,565
28.9%
Other Benefits
2,254
5,702
10,156
6,296
(3,860)
(38.0)%
Pension
6,153
33,105
58,229
83,362
25,133
43.2%
Retiree Medical
—
—
9,636
9,872
236
2.4%
Salary
28,485
131,084
231,487
389,920
158,433
68.4%
Total Salary & Benefits
42,142
196,139
363,394
558,901
195,507
53.8%
Allocated Charges
108,892
112,999
56,660
257,406
200,746
354.3%
Capital Improvement Program
—
—
180,000
628,884
448,884
249.4%
Contract Services
94,596
105,792
306,500
7,500
(299,000)
(97.6)%
Facilities & Equipment
—
—
15,000
16,500
1,500
10.0%
General Expense
627
51,298
4,900
5,900
1,000
20.4%
Rents & Leases
—
—
5,000
5,000
—
—%
Supplies & Material
—
—
31,656
56,656
25,000
79.0%
Total Dollars by Expense Category
246,257
466,228
963,112
1,536,747
573,635
59.6%
398 PUBLIC WORKS • CITY OF PALO ALTO FISCAL YEAR 2016 ADOPTED BUDGET
Budget Summary
PUBLIC WORKS
FY 2013 Actuals
FY 2014 Actuals
FY 2015 Adopted Budget
FY 2016 Adopted Budget
FY 2016 Change $
FY 2016 Change %
Revenues
Charges for Services
—
—
501,022
40,000
(461,022)
(92.0)%
From Other Agencies
—
—
—
126,000
126,000
—%
Net Sales
—
—
—
554,580
554,580
—%
Operating Transfers-In
—
—
560,000
304,150
(255,850)
(45.7)%
Other Revenue
—
—
84,300
93,500
9,200
10.9%
Permits and Licenses
—
—
159,500
—
(159,500)
(100.0)%
Rental Income
—
—
—
134,500
134,500
—%
Return on Investments
3,981
3,896
4,500
1,700
(2,800)
(62.2)%
Total Revenues
3,981
3,896
1,309,322
1,254,430
(54,892)
(4.2)%
Positions by Division
Airport Administration
1.00
1.00
2.00
2.96
0.96
48.00%
Airport Operations
—
—
—
0.50
0.50
—%
CIP Airport Fund
—
—
—
2.42
2.42
—%
Total
1.00
1.00
2.00
5.88
3.88
194.00%
Staffing
FY 2013 Actuals
FY 2014 Actuals
FY 2015 Adopted Budget
FY 2016 Adopted Budget
FY 2016 Change $
FY 2016 Salary
Management Analyst
—
—
1.00
1.00
—
96,976
Manager Airport
1.00
1.00
1.00
1.00
—
146,621
Manager Maintenance Operations
—
—
—
1.00
1.00
133,922
Sub-total: Full-Time Equivalent Positions
1.00
1.00
2.00
3.00
1.00
377,519
Temporary/Hourly
—
—
—
2.88
2.88
179,712
Total
1.00
1.00
2.00
5.88
3.88
557,231"

***************************

As for closing the airport the City has a binding contract to keep the airport open until at least 2035 so are you proposing that the airport be closed in 2036?


Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 7, 2016 at 12:26 pm

@Peter, re binding contracts, we've discussed this before and I'm still unclear whether Palo Alto can just give back all the money (prorated or amortized amounts) and whether anyone has a handle on what that amount would be. With the proper rezoning, I'm sure developers would happily cough up the funds. Oregon Expressway could be extended to a second Dumbarton crossing and we could resume last century's plans to fill in the bay and satisfy ABAG until they turn around and ask for more.


Posted by Mary
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 7, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Mr Carpenter's cut and paste barrage is an example of the obfuscatory and dilatory tactics of the Aviation interests. Musical is right: whatever the status of alleged agreements with the FAA, there are ways to address contractual issues once the CIty makes a determination that the airport should be closed.

Those like Mr. Carpenter would have us believe that FAA contracts are an absolute bar to closing the Airport. This just is not so. Contracts can be renegotiated and there are ways to come up with funds to satisfy any monetary obligations attendant to closing the airport as Musical alludes to.

The first thing to do is to have the open discussion about whether the people of Palo Alto want to close the airport or not. Obfuscations from Atherton residents do not help this process - which is surely Mr. Carpenter's purpose.

I think we should close the airport. Once the city has reached consensus on that, we can discuss the best way to go about it.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 7, 2016 at 12:59 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Any contract can be renegotiated however the FAA has no incentive to renegotiate the PA Airport AIP grants since any money returned to the Federal government would, by law, go to the Treasury Department not the FAA.

With regard to alternative developments of the current airport site recognize that it is in a well established flood plane and the established BayLands Master Plan precludes any commercial or residential use for that site.

Web Link

So what is the rationale for spending tens of millions to payback the AIP grants, millions to renegotiate current airport tenant leases and hundreds? of millions to remove the existing taxiways and runways ( asphalt is classified as a hazardous substance) so that the site can be used, at best, for some non-revenue generating activity like birdwatching?


Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 7, 2016 at 1:16 pm

Don't ALL the existing airport leases expire in 2017?


Posted by Mary
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 7, 2016 at 1:18 pm

Lots of people raised objections to closing the Yacht Harbor and The Sea Scouts facility (and most of these people were from Palo Alto.) But the Harbor was closed because the people of Palo Alto thought bird watching and other environmental friendly activities were more consistent with the City's vision for the Baylands than were sailing activities.

An Atherton aviation advocate's alarums about - and assertions of impossibility of - closing the airport ,even before we have a discussion of it, should rightfully be viewed skeptically by the citizens of Palo Alto who are - just like they were with the yacht harbor - the ultimate decision makers.

There are many ways to address the nuts and bolts of closing the airport once the decision is made.


Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 7, 2016 at 1:54 pm

Read about the yacht harbor tactics here: Web Link


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 7, 2016 at 1:56 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"There are many ways to address the nuts and bolts of closing the airport once the decision is made."

Actually you cannot make any intelligent decision unless you know the costs of that decision.

In this case it would cost something like $100 million? in new expenses with zero offsetting revenues. That is not "nuts and bolts".


Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 7, 2016 at 2:05 pm

The airport is effectively closed from now until midnite.
Webtrak is amusing.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 7, 2016 at 2:12 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Yep. Note helicopter over the stadium:

2009 AMERICAN EUROCOPTER LLC AS350B3
Rotorcraft
(7 seats / 1 engine) DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
WASHINGTON , DC, US


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 7, 2016 at 2:16 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

And I wonder what kind of paylod this plane, which is circling the stadium at 6400 ft., is carrying and which agency is operating it:

1991 FAIRCHILD SA227-DC (C26B)
Fixed wing multi engine
(25 seats / 2 engines) AIR CERBERUS INC
ARLINGTON , VA, US
(Corporation) Experimental


Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 7, 2016 at 2:23 pm

Don't ask. Don't tell.

I was at the Ferry Building yesterday afternoon.
Interesting array of eyes on the rooftops.
Caltrain was a zoo, standing room only.

Heading out now hoping to glimpse the Blue Angels.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2016 at 4:24 pm

For all those petitioning to close the airport, where do I sign to keep it open?

All those people who see no purpose for it had better not use any facilities in Mountain View, or Sunnyvale, or Menlo or RWC, or even San Francisco.

Can't understand why people are so negative about a regional facility. I suppose you would like to close Stanford University too since it brings in too many out of towners and too much traffic.

Get off your high horses and start putting your energy into something more worthwhile, please.


Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 7, 2016 at 9:09 pm

"So what is the rationale for spending tens of millions to payback the AIP grants, millions to renegotiate current airport tenant leases and hundreds? of millions to remove the existing taxiways and runways ( asphalt is classified as a hazardous substance) so that the site can be used, at best, for some non-revenue generating activity like birdwatching?"

It's a cheap price considering the value of the 100+ acres the airport presently sequesters for the costly noisy polluting pleasures of a privileged moneyed few. Perhaps our Congressional rep will attach a small rider to reduce or eliminate the federal price tag, if one indeed exists. We can pillory the irresponsible city council members who created the mess at our leisure.

In the short term, the toxic asphalt runway (provisionally accepting the allegation of such) could provide a dandy parking lot for Downtiwn and CalAve workers. For the long term, we need the public recreation area that real estate now occupies, even with some birdwatching. Proper asphalt disposal isnot rocket science.


Posted by Mary
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 8, 2016 at 9:31 am

The environmental case for closing the airport is very strong. Having close to 200,000 noisy small plane flights per year over the wildlife rich Badlands is inconsistent with high value uses of the area - like birdwatching, among other pursuits that are accessible to those of us without the wherewithal to use private planes. There is a natural tension between the Badlands Master Plan's primary goal of preserving the area for environmental reasons and the airport operations to which the Plan pays uneasy lip service.

The EPA and analogous State agencies are a potential source of funding for whatever costs the city might incur for closing the airport. One thing Palo Alto is very good at is obtaining Federal and State funding. There's little doubt if City employees were directed to turn their attention away from obtaining FAA funds for the airport to securing money to return the airport average to a natural state - perhaps with an educational facility - the net cost to the City would be very low.

Atherton aviation interests may try to obfuscate the issue - claiming the impossibility of closing the noxious facility that is PAO - but once Palo Altans have a will to do something sensible about the issue, a way will follow.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 8, 2016 at 9:39 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

A wonder if any of the proponents of closing Palo Alto Airport are going to actually do something like:

1 - Place a ballot measure before the voters to authorizng the spending of millions of dollars to convert the airport to non revenue producing land,

2 - Petition the Council to spend of millions of dollars to convert the airport to non revenue producing land.

I doubt it because both of these actions involve really hard work and having answers regarding the costs as well as the benefits.


Posted by Mary
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 8, 2016 at 9:57 am

"A wonder if any of the proponents of closing Palo Alto Airport are going to actually do something like:

1 - Place a ballot measure before the voters to authorizng the spending of millions of dollars to convert the airport to non revenue producing land,

2 - Petition the Council to spend of millions of dollars to convert the airport to non revenue producing land.

I doubt it because both of these actions involve really hard work and having answers regarding the costs as well as the benefits.'

People said the same thing about the Yacht Harbor. It's now closed, and the Baylands are environmentally better for it.

Airport advocates are on the wrong side of history. The environment is much more important to Palo Altan's than the hobbies of rich Atherton residents. And while Mr. Carpenter is right that it will take effort to fight the moneyed aviation interests who will fight to keep their privilege intact, they'll lose in the end - just as the Yacht Harbor interests (who are much more sympathetic) did. Recall that this thread was started by a citizen who's forming a group to combat the rich and powerful self-interested aviation lobby.

Time is on the side of those wanting to protect the environment, not those who want to continue despoiling it.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 8, 2016 at 10:09 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The leadership of my former Palo Alto Planning Commissioner colleague Emily Renzil was crucial to the voters' decision to close the Yacht Harbor.

I don't see anyone of Emily's intelligence, stature, skill and dedication who is prepared to provide the same intense level of leadership for an attempt to close the airport.

Why - because the facts do not support such an action. The yacht harbor was closed because of the need to continually dredge the channel between the harbor and the Bay and the environmental impact of such dredging - the airport never needs to be dredged.


Posted by Mary
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 8, 2016 at 10:20 am

Recall that a year ago, Peter Carpenter was saying that no one in Palo Alto had the energy and skill to combat the SFO overflights that torment many Palo Altans. But Palo Alto citizens (who began organizing on this site) formed the very effective lobbying group Skyposse (Web Link that has succeeded in getting the City Council heavily interested in the issue and has got our local congressional representatives to pay attention to the issue and start to take action.

Now he's saying that Palo Alto has no one capable of taking on his Atherton partners in environmental crime who want Palo Alto to keep operating their airport playpen at great expense to Palo Alto's beloved Baylands.

I know which way I'm betting on how this will turn out.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 8, 2016 at 10:36 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Recall that a year ago, Peter Carpenter was saying that no one in Palo Alto had the energy and skill to combat the SFO overflights that torment many Palo Altans."

Actually I never said that and I challenge you to post any proof of your statement.

I have always cautioned those interested in change to both ascertain the facts and understand the relevant laws.

And with regard to closing the Palo Alto Airport feel free to prove me wrong.


Posted by Mary
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 8, 2016 at 11:05 am

Here is Peter Carpenter belittling the efforts of the people who ultimately were instrumental in forming Skyposse in 2014:

"So far you have a total of three people.
Who are you going to petition?
What are you going to petition them for?
How many petitions have been drafted?
How many signatures have been obtained?

Citizen action is a wonderful thing but it seldom successful..." Web Link

You can find a lot more of Mr. Carpenter's denigration of citizen efforts to fight SFO noise at the link.

I guess we'll see whether he's right that the current activists who favor the environment over PAO airplane hobbyists know what they're doing or not.

Like I said, I know which way I'd bet....


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 8, 2016 at 11:48 am

"Citizen action is a wonderful thing but it seldom successful..."

Mary - you interestingly left out the rest of my sentence:

"Citizen action is a wonderful thing but it seldom successful without a large base of support, smart leadership and clear goals. One of the particularly interesting aspects of citizen action in Palo Alto is getting a significant number of residents to agree on the same goals and the same wording for an petition or initiative."

Sky Posse claims that Palo Alto is disproportionately impacted by ground level airplane noise. However careful scientific measurements have shown that Menlo Park (under the MENLO intersection) gets more ground level airplane noise than does any measured Palo Alto site. And no measured Palo Alto site gets more ground level airplane noise than does my neighborhood in Atherton. So given those facts what happens to Sky Posse'e special pleadings?

And I have stated: "I have always cautioned those interested in change to both ascertain the facts and understand the relevant laws. "

And feel free to prove me wrong regarding closing the Palo Alto Airport. Remember to get your facts straight first or you will be in the same dilemma as is Sky Possee.


Posted by Mary
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 8, 2016 at 12:00 pm

When asked to choose between the environment and activities of the rich which despoil the environment, Palo Altans have always chosen the former. Witness the Yacht Harbor.

Anyone who pretends otherwise either is clueless about Palo Alto politics and values, or is disingenuous.

I don't think Mr Carpenter is clueless about the power of environmental appeal in Palo Alto. This may explain why he is so insistent that efforts to close PAO are futile and unworkable.

Once the choice is presented to Palo Altans as between wealthy aviation hobbyists vs the environment, the outcome is pretty much beyond doubt.

I think I know where I'm betting on the outcome...


Posted by 100 Acres for the People
a resident of University South
on Feb 8, 2016 at 12:17 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 8, 2016 at 12:59 pm

"He's worried sick he'll have to park his airplane in San Carlos,"

Once again knowing the facts is important.

My last flight out of PAO was on 13 November 2006.

My wife and I donated our airplane to Lighthawk amost ten tears ago.

It is called "Put your money where you mouth is".

Lighthawk used this very unique airplane for its environmental protection work:

Web Link


Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2016 at 1:37 pm

Mary

The same arguments can be made for closing SFO and returning it for birdwatching and other environmental reasons.

I wasn't here when the yacht harbor was here, or the Sea Scouts. But I would like to have been able to use those facilities, such a shame they are gone.

I wish they would do something to improve the facilities at the Baylands, some signs, some proper restrooms, some maps for visitors, reopening the board walk and the interpretive center. If you are so keen to get better facilities for birdwatching and Baylands use, why don't you put your energy into getting those facilities improved for all of us and for other visitors to town?


Posted by Andrea Wolf
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 8, 2016 at 2:20 pm

@ Mary

1. There are many things that can be said regarding Peter Carpenter's comments, but, in my opinion, one of the first things that should be acknowledged is that he is willing to post under his own name. Mary, why aren't you willing to post your full name?

2. I am neither wealthy nor inflential, but I am an aviation enthusiast. It would be nice if you could acknowledge that not all aviation lovers are rich.

3. It is concerning to me that more and more Palo Alto seems to be moving in the direction of creating a city that has nothing for children/young people/young adults other than the schools. You are correct that we have eliminated Sea Scouts, additionally, Palo Alto no longer has a bowling alley. Many people are against the golf course - never seeming to notice that quite a few young people use it. By the way, not all Palo Altans have enough money to belong to a private golf club. These are the people who use the municipal golf course. It sounds like you believe that your priority for "quiet" at the Baylands should supersede everyone else's interests. I don't understand that.

4. I assume that your family has never needed "life flight" emergency services. However, part of the price of living close to a world class hospital facility is that we have emergency helicopters overhead. If this airport closes I suppose that all that helicopter traffic could be diverted to the San Carlos airport, but what happens when someone like you in San Carlos decides that they want to close that airport? Are you looking to close all of the regional airports and just leave open SFO and San Jose? It would be interesting to see a report on how that would affect our quality of life here in Palo Alto. I wonder what the unintended consequences and unforeseen outcomes would be from shutting down all of the peninsula's smaller airports?


Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 8, 2016 at 3:49 pm

"I assume that your family has never needed "life flight" emergency services. However, part of the price of living close to a world class hospital facility is that we have emergency helicopters overhead. If this airport closes I suppose that all that helicopter traffic could be diverted to the San Carlos airport, but what happens when someone like you in San Carlos decides that they want to close that airport?"

Andrea: Maybe you will be the first to clear up a long standing puzzle for me: why do those helicopters need a 2400+ ft long runway?


Posted by Mary
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 8, 2016 at 6:57 pm

According to the Airplane Pilots and Owners Association, the average plane owner has an income of $223,443. This is good money, even around here. The average private pilot has an income of 132,221. Still pretty good money. Most of the planes berthed at PAO are not owned by Palo Alto residents, but by residents of wealthier towns like Atherton, Woodside, Los Altos Hills and Portola Valley.

The notion that life flights into Stanford depend on PAO is readily debunked. The life flight helicopters don't need a runway to operate, and fuel can be readily stored at Moffet or on the hospital grounds. Similarly Moffet provides a better connection point for fixed wing aircraft to transfer patients to helicopters than PAO since it can handle a wider range of aircraft.

Palo Alto controls the airport. Whether we want to keep it open is a choice between the aviation hobbyists (which all available evidence points to as wealthier than the typical Palo Altan) and the environment at the Baylands.

Clearly some people in Palo Alto side with the aviation interests who are also well represented among the wealthy of Atherton and Los Altos Hills. But I don't think they're on the side of most residents.

A quiet, non-polluted Baylands that prioritizes the environment over the hobby of wealthy out of towners is more in tune with the vast majority of Palo Alto residents.

The Yacht Harbor had its supporters too. But eventually the will of the people prevailed. My guess is that the same scenario will eventually play out for the airport too.


Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 8, 2016 at 9:23 pm

Well then, can ANYBODY tell me why those medicopters need a 2400+ ft runway at PAO? The question needs to be answered by the airport advocates if they want to use those helicopters to justify their ultra-expensive taxpayer-supported playground. Any takers?


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 8, 2016 at 9:29 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

There are many justification for a community like Palo Alto having an airport - Life Flight support is just one of them.

So it is a false dichotomy to say that only helicopter usage can justify an airport.


Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 8, 2016 at 9:44 pm

Mary.

I question your statement about the idea of most people in Palo Alto being against the airport. How on earth can you say that? Have you actually polled the people in Palo Alto?

I would guess that the majority of residents don't really have much of an opinion one way or the other. As with most surveys, the way questions are asked can greatly influence the way they are answered.

As an example here is a series of questions that would get the desired answer you are looking for. Do you value the open spaces in Palo Alto? Do you value the fact that we are on the southern edge of the San Francisco Bay? Do you value the fact that the San Francisco Baylands are a rich environment for flora and fauna? Do you think that the City of Palo Alto should endeavor to do as much as possible to keep the Baylands wildlife in as natural state as possible? Do you think the Palo Alto airport should be closed?

The above questions would obviously get the result you are hoping for.

However, the alternate point of view could be reached with something like these questions. Do you think that Palo Alto is a community that values innovation and entrepreneurship? Do you think that every opportunity to encourage innovators and entrepreneurs in our community? Do you think that Palo Alto is a great place for young people to learn new skills? Do you think that Palo Alto should encourage young people to be innovators and entrepreneurs? Do you think that any facility that gives young people opportunities to achieve great innovation and encourage their ideas should be improved to state of the art levels.? Do you think that keeping facilities that encourage innovation and new ideas are a valuable asset to the community? Do you think that making improvements to the Palo Alto airport make sense?

As you can see, these series of questions can make an undecided resident be easily influenced to the way you want them to answer. When looking at the series of questions, a survey taker would ask the series of questions but only report on the last question. In such a situation, the outcome can easily be decided by the previous questions.

I doubt very much if there are many people in Palo Alto who have strong opinions, but if you take the time and effort you can come up with any response you desire.

I strongly suggest that you don't waste your time and effort on this. If you value the birdwatching opportunities of the Baylands, the time and effort should be spent on getting the facilities that are crumbling away and turning them into something much more rewarding for us all.


Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 8, 2016 at 9:54 pm

"There are many justification for a community like Palo Alto having an airport..."

Are they the same ones as for building an airport in Atherton?

Above all, I want to thank you for documenting in this thread the extravagant taxpayer subsidues the FAA pours into this hobby. It is ironclad support for my statement in my prior post, and it saves me the effort of compiling them myself for the closure campaign. And (big added advantage) I am reasonably sure you will not dispute them


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 8, 2016 at 9:58 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" documenting in this thread the extravagant taxpayer subsidues the FAA pours into this hobby."

Once again knowing the facts is important.

ALL of the FAA AIP grant money comes from aviation fuel taxes so what the FAA gives to PAO it got from airplane owners, not from other tax revenues.

[Portion removed.]


Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 8, 2016 at 10:49 pm

"ALL of the FAA AIP grant money comes from aviation fuel taxes so what the FAA gives to PAO it got from airplane owners, not from other tax revenues.

Next uninformed statement?"

All my alleged uninformation on this topic is from a single source:

"Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 7, 2016 at 12:59 pm

[snip]

So what is the rationale for spending tens of millions to payback the AIP grants"

Tens of millions in fuel taxes? That's a lot of airplane driving at our little PAO. It certainly shows the extreme wealth of the pilots flying out of there. But to be fair, may I invite you to document in detail the precise origins of those tens of million$? I think most originate from taxpayers other than general aviation.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 8, 2016 at 10:57 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" may I invite you to document in detail the precise origins of those tens of million$?"

Paying back the AIP grants would be a result of the City failing to meet its contractual obligation incurred as a result of accepting those AIP grants in the first place. Each grant has a 19-20 year commitment so closing the airport would mean paying back all of those grants.

The money comes from the Aviation Trust Fund which is funded by aviation fuel taxes.

[Portion removed.]


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 8, 2016 at 11:00 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As previously posted:

Web Link

None of this money comes from "taxpayers other than general aviation.".


Posted by Joe
a resident of Ventura
on Feb 9, 2016 at 1:30 am

The link to the FAA PowerPoint proves you are wrong! The pie chart on page 7 shows that for 2014, taxes on passenger tickets and the tax on international passengers totaled $12.5 billion dollars out of a total revenue of $13.5 billion dollars. General aviation, and fuel taxes by themselves only contribute a small fraction of the total revenue. So, you are clearly incorrect in claiming that general aviation is paying it's way for in the AIP grant program. The chart on page 8 shows that the flying public, not general aviation, is paying a large and growing portion of the trust fund revenue. Revenue from fuel taxes has been flat for the last 15 years.

The point about closing PAO is pretty simple. If the airport can fund itself, as was promised by airport supporters when the city voted to take over the facility, great. If the business plan for the airport depends upon millions of dollars in FAA grants that obligate the city to run the facility essentially forever, then that's a cost that needs to be included as well. If the airport can't make money based upon an honest accounting of costs, it's toast.

Based on the numbers, if opponents want to get the airport closed, start a ballot measure repealing the city manager's unilateral authorization for approval of AIP grants.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 9, 2016 at 7:40 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

All AIP money comes from the Aviation Trust Fund.

Not all Aviation Trust Fund money goes to AIP.

PAO gets a tiny fraction of AIP grants.

Most AIP grants go to larger airports having commercial air service.

No general tax revenue goes into the Aviation Trust Fund and therefore none goes to the AIP program.


Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 9, 2016 at 8:31 am

More than 90% of the trust fund revenue comes from taxes that are paid by the public, not general aviation or fuel taxes. You said: "The money comes from the Aviation Trust Fund which is funded by aviation fuel taxes." You are wrong!

Unlike Palo Utilities which pays the City rent for land, the Palo Alto Airport pays the City nothing in rent.

Unlike the golf course, the city incurs an ongoing obligation spanning decades by accepting federal airport grants.

Palo Alto Airport should pay rent to the city. Furthermore, airport maintenance shouldn't be funded by AIP grants. Instead, a fee should be collected for each airport operation (i.e. takeoff and landing). This better fits your "new-millennium-I-only-want-to-pay-the-government-for-stuff-I-use-and-buy-me-tailer-park" attitude that airport supporters have.


Posted by Mary
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 9, 2016 at 9:00 am

Bill is correct. A complete and proper accounting for the all costs and risks borne by the city because of the airport would show what money sink it is for us.

And for what? The airport is a playpen for wealthy hobby-flyers, most of whom aren't even Palo Alto residents. It's been spewing toxic lead and noise over the Baylands for decades - harming the environment and making the use of this precious resource by the majority of residents much more unpleasant than it should be. Moreover - as the crash of a Palo Alto Airport flight into an East Palo Alto daycare facility a few years ago proves - it presents an unacceptable danger to those on the ground who live near it. Even more than the buzzy small plane flights that rob us of sleep and annoy us at all hours of the day which was the complaint of the poster who started this thread, these are reasons we should close the airport with all possible speed.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 9, 2016 at 9:51 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"we should close the airport with all possible speed."

If you feel strongly about this then you should do what it takes to put a ballot measure before the voters and be prepared to fully disclose the costs to the City of such an action.

Recognize that your elected City Council has already taken explicit actions to keep the airport open for the foreseeable future.

Recognize that your alleged environmental impact of the airport is dramatically less than that which was caused by the continual dredging required to keep the yacht harbor open.


Posted by Mary
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 9, 2016 at 11:43 am

Given Mr. Carpenter's gross underestimation of the efforts that ultimately led to the formation of the now influential anti-SFO air traffic Skyposse group, I doubt anyone forming a new group will take seriously his advice on how to deal with the nuisance producing, environment destroying facility at the Palo Alto Airport.

I think we already know what the position of wealthy Atherton aviation enthusiasts is on their airport playpen. Why their representatives here continue their efforts to meddle in Palo Alto matters is no mystery : they're getting a free ride courtesy of the taxpayers of Palo Alto and feel threatened when Palo Altans point that out. Whether they have any influence other than to muddy the discussion is questionable.


Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 9, 2016 at 12:21 pm

"Recognize that your elected City Council has already taken explicit actions to keep the airport open for the foreseeable future."

The initiative process is a tool to rectify city council goofups.


Posted by No noise problem. Period.
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 9, 2016 at 12:30 pm

Mary- sky posse influential? After how many years they are still not even close to reaching their goal of 2500 signatures on their petition. There is no documented problem with airplane noise in Palo Alto. But thanks Mary for revealing the true goal of sky posse- to either shut down SFO or divert all air traffic to,fly over other cities.


Posted by Bremen Marston
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 9, 2016 at 12:45 pm

"There is no documented problem with airplane noise in Palo Alto."

I heartily agree.


Posted by tt
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2016 at 1:52 pm

"There is no documented problem with airplane noise in Palo Alto."
Come on, do you even spend the time googling before making such comment?


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 9, 2016 at 1:58 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"There is no documented problem with airplane noise in Palo Alto."

The claim that Palo Alto is disproportionately impacted by ground level airplane noise compared to other communities simply is not true.


The carefully done ground level noise studies confirm that the highest ground level noise is at the MENLO intersection in Menlo Park and that the Palo Alto measured ground level noise is the same as the measured ground level noise in the Lindenwood section of Atherton.



Posted by No noise problem.period
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 9, 2016 at 2:02 pm

Tt- documented does not mean the anecdotal comments on this forum, nor the postings on the sky posse website. Documented means real scientific studies that measure the actual noise levels in Palo Alto and compare it to other cities.
So, no, there is NO documented airplane noise problem in palo alto


Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 9, 2016 at 2:50 pm

Just last night City Council approved a $237,500 budget to address the "noise problem". Freytag & Associates -- Web Link -- will do the assessment and mitigation study (looks like they asked for $95K of the budget). Unclear whether Palo Alto Airport traffic will be studied or explicitly filtered out.

Here's the RFP that went out last September:

The City of Palo Alto is seeking proposals from qualified firms to assess the history of air traffic patterns over the Northern California (NorCal) Metroplex so as to identify the evolution of the traffic volume, altitudes, and speeds that have occurred and to determine the above as a function of location within the San Francisco Bay Area, model the noise impacts of this traffic and how that noise has evolved and analyze the official published route structures and flight procedures over time and identify all changes that have occurred in these routes and significant procedure changes since 1990.

Consultant shall identify potential alternate flight routes and/or operational procedures that would reduce noise impacts and/or more equitably distribute noise, and to assess impact of these measures on fuel cost, efficiency, and safety. Consultant shall be required to have an understanding of existing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airways and Standard Arrival Route (STAR) and Standard Instrument Departure Route (SID) to the various airports in the NorCal Metroplex.

Services are required to analyze a database of National Offload Program (NOP) data, and to prepare reports and graphical outputs that allow an understanding of this traffic history in a form that can be easily communicated to government officials and the public.


Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 9, 2016 at 3:39 pm

"So, no, there is NO documented airplane noise problem in palo alto"

Awww c'mon. Where ya been? The fact that Palo Alto's got an airplane noise problem is extensively documented in these forums on the ultimate authority: the citizens impacted by airplane noise.

All other "documentations" are merely expensive makework for the consultants who generate them. You cannot disappear a noise problem by waving numbers at it.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 9, 2016 at 3:49 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"the fact that Palo Alto's got an airplane noise problem"

The claim is that Palo Alto is disproportionately impacted by airplane noise compared to other communities is simply untrue.

" airplane noise problem is extensively documented in these forums on the ultimate authority: the citizens impacted by airplane noise. "

Anecdotes are not data and they do not constitute scientific facts.

It is a fact that some Palo Alto residents are bothered by airplane noise but that is not sufficient justification to simply move that noise to another community.


Posted by tt
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2016 at 4:02 pm

"The claim is that Palo Alto is disproportionately impacted by airplane noise compared to other communities is simply untrue."

do you have any fact based on scientific studies to support that?


Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 9, 2016 at 4:26 pm

"The claim is that Palo Alto is disproportionately impacted by airplane noise compared to other communities is simply untrue."

OK then, we'll gladly join with allies from other communities. Now consider this:

"Anecdotes are not data and they do not constitute scientific facts."

Then:

"It is a fact that some Palo Alto residents are bothered by airplane noise ... [continued below]"

Bravo! You got it right on the second try.

" ... but that is not sufficient justification to simply move that noise to another community."

Now we get to the real issue: if the noise leaves Palo Alto, it might migrate to Atherton. The horror, the horror... .

But, well, why just move the noise? Kill it. Why not shut down all general aviation airports in the Bay Area? Then no community has to suffer from their needless racket and hazards.


Posted by Mary
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 9, 2016 at 6:21 pm

It's impossible to know what the air traffic noise deniers here mean by "documented noise problem." What is copiously documented is that Palo Alto suffers disproportionately from SFO air traffic overflights compared to other Peninsula cities. In fact, along with part of East Palo Alto and a sliver of East Menlo Park, most cross Peninsula SFO bound traffic passes over our City and not over other towns.



I am sure the airplane noise deniers will come up with their usual list of distractions (e.g. the well known Atherton noise denier on this site always wants to count the over water, thinly populated parts of Redwood CIty and San Carlos), but for those untutored in this matter, just search these forums. Or go to the Skyposse website: it is well documented that all three cross Peninsula landing patterns for SFO converge over Palo Alto.

But this thread is about PAO... and the strong case that environmental concerns outweigh the hobbies of Atherton air enthusiasts who think of it as their private playpen. Nobody is advocating closing SFO. But plenty of us think there's a good case for closing the Baylands destroying Palo Alto Airport. Moreover, while we Palo Altans don't have much say in hte operation of SFO and we have no say over San Carlos Airport, we have complete say in the goings on in our City.


Posted by About the petition and more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2016 at 6:34 pm

Hi No noise,

"....After how many years they are still not even close to reaching their goal of 2500 signatures on their petition. There is no documented problem with airplane noise in Palo Alto. But thanks Mary for revealing the true goal of sky posse- to either shut down SFO or divert all air traffic to,fly over other cities."

I joined Sky Posse last year and the petition was originally intended to collect a couple of hundred signatures to see if there was more than a handful of people concerned. Change.org had a goal thing which is how the 2,500 may have been set and probably nobody thought the petition would come close to that.

The petition keeps getting signatures after Sky Posse has long instead been informing the public about how complaints about jet noise matter more.

Sky posse focus is pretty clear on their website. To address what is in the petition. An alarming change in the quantity and altitudes of planes going to SFO, San Jose flights and the cumulative amount of traffic over town.

As far as diverting traffic to other communities, that is what has happened to Palo Alto.

The Sky Posse petition states things pretty clearly Web Link


"Aircraft noise is increasing at an alarming rate over our communities. This has a significant impact on our quality of life, including disruption of sleep. The FAA is instituting a new air traffic control system called NextGen, which concentrates flight paths over our homes and schools. Over the past 15 years, SFO arrivals have increased 23%, but flight paths have shifted, increasing flights over Palo Alto 185%, from 70 to 200 arrivals per day. With six airports routing traffic over Palo Alto and neighboring communities, it is critical to monitor and apply best practices to abate aircraft noise.

Furthermore, in 2000, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and then-Mayor Gary Fazzino, announced an agreement with the FAA and SFO to route flights at a minimum altitude of 5000 feet over Palo Alto in an effort to reduce noise, but planes are now flying much lower. Oakland, San Jose and San Carlos airports are also increasing traffic over our communities with flights as low as 2000 feet.

We ask you, our elected officials, to exercise your full influence and resources to address this problem. In addition to your working with the airports conducting traffic here, we ask you to appeal urgently to Congress, the FAA, and air traffic control to work effectively with communities on noise abatement."


Posted by About the petition
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2016 at 6:41 pm

By the way, the concentration of traffic due to new Nextgen procedures is a national issue.

You can find some interesting links about this on the sky posse twitter Web Link


Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2016 at 7:01 pm

When the CofPA entered into a contract with the FAA to receive AIP grant funds they ceded their right to collect taxes and to regulate the airport in any meaningful way.

Palo Alto's first AIP grant was for $1.6M, and was used to repave the runway (with asphalt). For this $1.6M, CofPA ceded their right to tax aviation fuel for 20 years ($80,000/year).

According to Wikipedia:

"As of 2011, aviation gasoline (most often used to fuel small General Aviation aircraft) is taxed at 19.4¢/gal. As of 2007, jet fuel (called "kerosene for aviation" by the IRS) is taxed at 21.9¢/gal unless it is used for commercial aviation (airlines such as American Airlines and United Airlines and small chartered commercial jets). Because such commercial operations are subject to the federal transportation tax, they are subject to a reduced fuel tax of 4.4¢/gal."

Back of the envelope estimate... last year Palo Alto airport had close to 200,000 operations (take-offs or landings). If the average take-off used 20 gallons of fuel purchased at PAO, that is 20 x 100,000 = 2,000,000 gallons of fuel sold (your mileage may vary).


Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 9, 2016 at 9:29 pm

"last year Palo Alto airport had close to 200,000 operations (take-offs or landings). If the average take-off used 20 gallons of fuel purchased at PAO, that is 20 x 100,000 = 2,000,000 gallons of fuel sold (your mileage may vary)."


20 gal is about 2 hours of puddle jumper flying time, not unreasonable for a weekend jaunt. But you seem to have counted twice. One usually fuels up prior to takeoff, but not subsequent to landing.

So that's a million gallons of avgas/yr, taxed at $0.194/gal, yielding $194k in taxes per annum. It would take 51.5 years to accrue the first $10 million of the "tens of millions" Mr. Carpenter claims PAO pilots will contribute via the AIP. I must reluctantly concede his claim is not credible prima facie.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 10, 2016 at 7:07 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

My claim is not that the exact dollars generated by fuel tax by PAO operations are returned to PAO by AIP grants but rather that the entire cost of PAO IAP grants has been covered by aviation fuel taxes paid nationwide. In fact PAO gets MORE back from the AIP program than it pays into that program.


Over the last 20 years PAO has received approximately $10 million in AIP grants.

With those grants came contractual obligations.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 10, 2016 at 7:13 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

""The claim is that Palo Alto is disproportionately impacted by airplane noise compared to other communities is simply untrue."

do you have any fact based on scientific studies to support that?"

Yes, Dr.Tom Rindfleisch has conducted a series of careful ground level noise observations at sites in Palo Alto, Menlo Park and Atherton. Sky Posse, I and a few others have both reviewed his methodology and his initial data. When that data is published it will serve as a superb basis for an intelligent discussion of the ground level airplane noise "problem".


Posted by Disproportionality
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 10, 2016 at 8:24 am

One way to look at proportional disruption resulting from commercial flights to SFO is to compare Palo Alto's disruption to other cities in the torus centered around SFO and just covering Palo Alto.

Note that this torus does not include Atherton; Atherton is inside its inner circle.

Other cities in the torus for the most part have far less of this disruption than Palo Alto.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 10, 2016 at 8:40 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The complaint is about airplane ground level noise. No one is complaining about simply seeing planes overhead.

There is more airplane ground level noise at the MENLO intersection (which is in Menlo Park) than at any measured Palo Alto site simply because the planes are lower over MENLO than when they are over Palo Alto and ground level increases dramatically when planes are at lower altitiude.

Similarly there is as much ground level airplane noise at my Lindenwood neighborhood than there is at any Palo Alto measured site because while there are fewer flights over Lindenwood the flights that do pass over are lower than the ones flying over Palo Alto.


Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 8:45 am

> In fact PAO gets MORE back from the AIP program than it pays into that program.

The fact is that the Palo Alto Airport is subsidized by taxes on the general public, primarily through ticket taxes and airport fees added to the cost of their air travel. The FAA's AIP grant program then turns around and enforces restrictions on the City, limiting the City's ability for local control of airport operations.

So the effective, true cost of the Palo Alto Airport is borne by residents of the City even though they aren't the primary users of the facility.

I'm glad you agree that the user's of the Palo Airport aren't paying their fair share of the costs.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 10, 2016 at 9:38 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I'm glad you agree that the user's of the Palo Airport aren't paying their fair share of the costs."

I never said that.

"The fact is that the Palo Alto Airport is subsidized by taxes on the general public,"

The general public does not pay any airplane taxes - only users of the airport system pay such taxes. It is a concept called Use Taxes.

PAO is a reliever airport and as such it benefits the larger airports and therefore receives support from the larger system.

I challenge you to show that a single Federal non-aviation generated tax dollar goes into the AIP program.


Posted by About the petition and more
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2016 at 9:54 am

Mr. Carpenter,

From what you have commented, it sounds from your comments that you are under the "sound shadow" described in the article about Sky Posse Los Altos Team – more simply known as SPLAT –
Web Link

There are all sorts of terms used, noise on the ground, noise overhead.

The biggest problem we have is the frequency of flights. Sometimes every minute. Does this have to do with noise levels, I am not sure. If someone taps a pencil every minute and does not make much noise does it still bother me? If it interferes with my work or concentration, I would say it does.

My understanding about "disproportional" though and what Sky Posse has pointed out is that the growth in traffic is disproportional to the growth in overall traffic (see petition numbers 23% vs 185%). The changes over Palo Alto and other communities have not been because of normal growth in airport operations but rather taking as many airplanes as possible through a few unsuspecting places, and lowering the altitudes.

What is anyway also true is that the metrics the FAA uses are from 1979? Perhaps you can shed light about the way they work but aren't they a metric for predicting annoyance? If that is the case, the noise metrics the FAA uses are a very poor predictor of annoyance, as evidenced by the rise in complaints mentioned in the current article.


from the sky posse website

"
PALO ALTO IS DISPROPORTIONATELY AFFECTED

Our community is under the convergence of 3 of the 4 approach routes into SFO, with traffic descending above Palo Alto from the North, South, and West. Few, if any other communities at these distances from SFO, OAK, or SJC experience this level of traffic on a daily basis. As airplanes have been flying at lower altitudes and there are more flights, these approaches are more invasive. In addition, traffic congestion causes increased duration of noise when planes make turns to extend their routes over our neighborhoods as they line up for the final approach to SFO."


Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 12:01 pm

"My claim is not that the exact dollars generated by fuel tax by PAO operations are returned to PAO by AIP grants but rather that the entire cost of PAO IAP grants has been covered by aviation fuel taxes paid nationwide. In fact PAO gets MORE back from the AIP program than it pays into that program. Over the last 20 years PAO has received approximately $10 million in AIP grants."

My point exactly. This confirms that general aviation at PAO is not a locally-financed activity, but is a taxpayer-subsidized hobby.


Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 12:05 pm

"The general public does not pay any airplane taxes - only users of the airport system pay such taxes. It is a concept called Use Taxes."

You're catching on. Millions of taxpayers use the airport system annually via United, Delta, Southwest, etc., and they pay the fuel tax that subsidizes the general aviation hobby.


Posted by Jetman
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2016 at 2:27 pm

There is a lot of legal and financial sleight-of-hand involved in the AIP grant scam.

CofPA and PAO are two separate entities. CofPA owns the land under the airport, but is only the "sponsor" of PAO.

The FAA only considers CofPA a "sponsor" of PAO, because when the CofPA accepted AIP grant funds, the CofPA signed a contract ceding most normal rights of ownership to the FAA.

When the CofPA applies for an AIP grant, they are applying for money that will only be awarded if it advances the FAA's agenda of integrating PAO into the "nextgen" NorCal Metroplex by expanding PAO from a GA airport, into a "reliever" airport (an airport capable of "relieving" SFO and SJC of unprofitable air traffic).

When the FAA gives CofPA an AIP grant, they are essentially giving a grant to themselves. The CofPA's primary role as "sponsor" is to disguise the true nature of the transaction.

As the "sponsor" of PAO, the CofPA also gets to waste administrative and legal resources applying for AIP grants, and waste administrative and public works resources managing the construction projects funded by the AIP grants... and lease the land under the airport to FAA/PAO for free.

Follow the money.


"Definition of Airport Categories"
FAA ~ October 20, 2015 Web Link

"Nextgen Metroplex – Northern California"
FAA ~ January 27, 2016 Web Link


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 10, 2016 at 4:37 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The total user generated fees (including aviation fuel taxes and passenger taxes) paid into the Aviation Trust Fund in FY 2014 was $13,513 million.

The total Grants-in-aid for all airports paid out in FY 2014 was $3,259 million.


Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 4:49 pm

"The total user generated fees (including aviation fuel taxes and passenger taxes) paid into the Aviation Trust Fund in FY 2014 was $13,513 million."

Key words: "including aviation fuel taxes and passenger taxes"

There, it's definite: in 2014 general public taxpayers shelled out $3.259 billion dollars to subsidize general aviation hobbyists, at the rate of 24 cents on each tax dollar.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 10, 2016 at 5:22 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The total Grants-in-aid for ALL airports paid out in FY 2014 was $3,259 million.

A majority of those funds went to airports that service commercial carriers not to general aviation airports.

Keep digging.


Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 6:06 pm

> A majority of those funds went to airports that service commercial carriers not to general aviation airports.

Your statement makes no sense. General aviation, especially in Palo Alto, is a heavily subsidized hobby paid for by others who aren't using PAO or any general aviation services. Yet, PAO's obligations are shared by all residents spanning decades. Your claims otherwise are completely false.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 10, 2016 at 6:23 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"General aviation, especially in Palo Alto, is a heavily subsidized hobby paid for by others who aren't using PAO or any general aviation services."

And what is your evidence for this claim?


Posted by Mary
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 10, 2016 at 6:49 pm

Bill's numbers make total sense to me. Anyone who thinks General Aviation pays its own way in the US really has difficulty with math.

But even apart from the subsidy/financial issues, the airport should be closed. The environmental effects on the Baylands, noise and lead pollution effects on nearby neighborhoods, and safety risks to those on the ground weighed against hobby time for wealthy diletantes - mostly from cities other than Palo Alto easily make the case against continued operation of the airport.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 10, 2016 at 7:06 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Bill's numbers make total sense to me."

This simply proves that some people are not paying attention - Clue - Bill did not post any numbers.

Bill stated, without any evidence ""General aviation, especially in Palo Alto, is a heavily subsidized hobby paid for by others who aren't using PAO or any general aviation services."


Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 7:42 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 10, 2016 at 10:40 pm

Odd. I'd never heard general aviation called a hobby. Model and radio controlled airplanes and now light drones are hobbies and can be purchased in hobby shops. Google "hobby" with aviation and I just find it's the name of a Southwest Airlines hub in Houston. I guess some people here keep trying to use the term as a slur. I don't get it.

And what's with the wealth angle? Must be fashionable to attack the wealthy. I've never seen any of our billionaires out at the local airport. Steve Jobs had a G-5 down in San Jose, but I don't think he had a pilot license. You can learn to fly for much less than the cost of a new car. Yes it's expensive, but I see new cars in every driveway on my street. People spend more on wine.

You can say PAO is subsidized by SFO and SJC, but without the smaller airports the bigger ones would have more light aircraft traffic. Same as we subsidize public transit to relieve traffic. I'd suggest that Palo Alto airport users and residents and businesses do more than their share of commercial travel, so we are just getting our own money back.

I believe that the City of Palo Alto will see a financial surplus from the airport, though not as much immediately as we could make by selling it to the highest bidder.


Posted by Nature Lover
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 11, 2016 at 7:48 am

Airport impacts on quality of life is the topic on this forum. Personally I can say that I used to walk at Baylands on the weekends very often during the last 20 years. There used to be an occasional interruption of GA planes during the walks. However now it is non-stop air traffic, including helicopter flight schools, many more small planes and larger commuter type planes. The Plan for Baylands was to set aside Land at the Bay to preserve this environmentally fragile spot for the public and future generations to enjoy. The peacefulness and beauty has been usurped by the Airport and hobbyists. The noise was occasional and livable 15 years ago. Now, it is a nightmare and I rarely go there for a walk. For newcomers to Palo Alto, they are amazed at all of our beautiful parks.....but haven't the background experience of enjoying Baylands without the intrusive , constant rumbling of planes taking off and landing. Denying the problem does not make it go away.
Palo Alto Baylands for the PEOPLE!!!
P.S. I wish all the Aiport Supporters would reveal their connections to the Airline Companies, conflicts of interest and financial paybacks that they personally receive from keeping PAO one of the busiest General Aviation airports in the country.


Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 11, 2016 at 11:41 am

Everything is more busy than before.

Except annual operations at PAO were around 250,000 in the early 1980s. 240,000 in 1990. 214,000 in 2003. 200,000 was the current level cited in the Dec 2006 PAO Master Plan Report. Today's annual number is more like 190,000.

Traffic into SFO is another subject.


Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 11, 2016 at 1:44 pm

> I'd suggest that Palo Alto airport users and residents and businesses do more than their share of commercial travel, so we are just getting our own money back.

Hey, don't include me or other non-GA airport tax dollars in your numbers. As I've said before, we have no interest in supporting your hobby at PAO.

Somebody said PAO has collected $10 million in AIP grants. So, roughly PAO general aviation users would have needed to purchase about $130 million dollars in domestic commercial tickets to generate enough to cover the cost of the AIP grants for PAO. At an average 2015 commercial ticket price from SFO or SJC of $400, that's 300,000 tickets. It's simply not possible that your "getting your own money back" and not relying on subsidies from the rest of us.

I'm sorry to tell you, but the "reliever airport" argument is a 30 year old and no longer valid. The days of lots of smaller airports feeding bigger ones passed after 9/11. There are only about 100 airport that do the vast majority of commercial travel in United States today. Folks just find it more convenient and cheaper to drive to large hub airports rather than negotiating multiple security checkpoints and dealing with small regional airlines.

The FAA statistics show PAO with about 170,000 operations (takeoffs/landings) over the last few years. The PAO business plan says the vast majority of those operations are folks doing flight training. Making an argument that those type of operations should remain at PAO given both complexity of the airspace and the necessity of shifting the flight patterns of SFO and SJC to reduce noise isn't possible. Residents could probably live with a PAO that does 85,000 operations a year, but at that point the financial subsidies required by PAO means the airport would no longer be viable.

So, there's certainly a realistic scenario where reducing aircraft noise, consolidation in the airline industry and reduction of the hobby flying could leave Palo Alto residents stuck with an expensive white elephant. By accepting AIP grants, the City is only prolonging the future financial drain that the PAO will likely become to the residents of Palo Alto.


Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 11, 2016 at 2:05 pm

It seems Peter Carpenter has definitively shown us how general aviation for the few at PAO is subsidized by a great many taxpayers who are not part of the GA scene. That's enough to go with.


Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 11, 2016 at 4:16 pm

$10 million in Federal grants? Palo Alto is about 0.02% of the Federal population, so about $2000 of that money came out of our collective Palo Alto pockets, like 3 cents per person, over what, 20 years?


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 11, 2016 at 4:17 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It would be very interesting to see how we would all do if everything that was subsidized by others disappeared - like the highways, Stanford Dish trails, SFO, Federal flood insurance, California earthquake insurance, Medicare, etc.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 11, 2016 at 4:48 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" I wish all the Aiport Supporters would reveal their connections to the Airline Companies, conflicts of interest and financial paybacks that they personally receive"

None, none and none.


Posted by Mary
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 11, 2016 at 5:15 pm

We're not talking about highways, SFO, Stanford trails or Medicare or anything else that the City of Palo Alto does not control, operate or subsidize.

It is true that Palo Alto does provide services and amenities to its residents, some of which are also available to non-residents. But one would be hard pressed to point out another amenity the City provides that is so disproportionately used by non-residents. The heavy proportion of subsidized services going to non-residents is compounded by the fact that so many of these residents come from Atherton, Woodside, Los Altos Hills and other wealthy communities. It's one thing when East Palo Alto residents use Rinconada Park for a picnic. It's quite another when Atherton venture capitalists use PAO for leisure flying with their rich buddies. Why do you think the most active supporter of keeping PAO open is an Atherton resident?

And there are no other Palo Alto provided amenities that have such a negative impact on non-users who are forced to contend with the noise and lead pollution of small planes, the safety hazard posed by small plane overflights (exemplified by the crash of a Palo Alto Airport flight into an East Palo Alto Daycare center), and the greatly diminshed ability to enjoy city parks and recreation areas (as described by those who say the Baylands is virtually unusable because of the almost 200,000 flights per year out of PAO.)

It really is time to look into ways to close the airport.


Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 11, 2016 at 5:27 pm

>> . . . disproportionately used by non-residents

Uh, University Avenue?


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 11, 2016 at 5:32 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Why do you think the most active supporter of keeping PAO open is an Atherton resident?"

As frequently posted the last time I flew from PAO was Nov 2006. And then my wife and I donated our airplane to Lighthawk where its unique capabilities were used for environmental protection efforts.

I support keeping PAO open because I actually have more first hand experience about this airport than any other of the above posters having spent 20 years as a City Council appointee on the Joint Community Relations Committee for PAO including ten years as Chair of the JCRC. During my tenure as Chair I personally talked to EVERY individual who complained about PAO flight activity.

[Portion removed.]


Posted by Mary
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 11, 2016 at 5:53 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 11, 2016 at 5:58 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Posted by Mary
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 11, 2016 at 6:20 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2016 at 6:48 pm

Mary seems to know a lot of facts.

She knows the addresses of who uses the airport, and whether or not they are wealthy. She also appears to know that they use it just as a hobby or to have some fun with bodies.

Or is she just guessing? Or perhaps just wishful thinking? Or perhaps just a teeny bit envious?

I have asked before and it has not been answered. Why don't those who wish to watch birds at the Baylands and has other environmental concerns doesn't advocate for the improvement of the park for all? The boardwalk, the interpretive center, maps for the trails, signs and guidelines as to where a trail may end or how long it may take to hike, better bathroom facilities, would all be worthwhile causes for someone who advocates concern for the condition of the Baylands.


Posted by Mary
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 11, 2016 at 7:03 pm

As most regular users of the Baylands would attest, the most important improvement for any kind of nature activities would be to eliminate the constant noise emanating from the airport.

The last time the issue was assessed by the city - several years ago, over two thirds of the airplanes berthed at PAO were owned by out of towners. As any rational person might intuit, residents of wealthy towns own more of the planes at PAO than residents of less wealthy towns. [Portion removed.]


Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 11, 2016 at 7:05 pm

"It would be very interesting to see how we would all do if everything that was subsidized by others disappeared - like the highways, Stanford Dish trails, SFO, Federal flood insurance, California earthquake insurance, Medicare, etc."

I'll just take mine as a cut of the government handouts to expensive hobbies that need massive taxpayer subsidies. Now, I've been admiring a certain classic Porsche... . You don't suppose... .


"Palo Alto is about 0.02% of the Federal population, so about $2000 of that money..."

Marvelous what one can do with a calculator, but the real skill is to do something that makes logical sense.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 11, 2016 at 7:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"As most regular users of the Baylands would attest"

An assumption without verification.

" As any rational person might intuit"

An assertion without verification.

"The last time the issue was assessed by the city - several years ago, over two thirds of the airplanes berthed at PAO were owned by out of towners."

Please provide the source for this assertion.


Posted by Fact Checker
a resident of Mayfield
on Feb 11, 2016 at 7:15 pm

"" I wish all the Aiport Supporters would reveal their connections to the Airline Companies, conflicts of interest and financial paybacks that they personally receive"

None, none and none."


An assertion without verification.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 11, 2016 at 7:20 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

""" I wish all the Aiport Supporters would reveal their connections to the Airline Companies, conflicts of interest and financial paybacks that they personally receive"

None, none and none.

As an elected official for the last 11 years I have filed Form 700s each year so verification is both easy to confirm and was done contemporaneously.

I challenge any other poster on this topic to produce comparable verification.

PS - And I use my own name !!!


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Feb 11, 2016 at 7:36 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is verification of the plane that we donated to Lighthawk:

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link


Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 11, 2016 at 9:13 pm

[Post removed.]


Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 11, 2016 at 11:00 pm

Most of the apartment buildings berthed in Palo Alto are owned by out of towners. But it seems that all the units are occupied by residents.


Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 11, 2016 at 11:14 pm

"Most of the apartment buildings berthed in Palo Alto"

That's for another thread. This one concerns the airport.


Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 12, 2016 at 12:47 am

People were annoyed that aircraft being rented by Palo Altans were owned by foreigners.


Posted by AviationLimits
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 18, 2016 at 4:39 pm

I am inviting those here who have expressed interest in LIMITING and /or SHUTTING DOWN PAO to please email [email protected], so I can invite you to our first meeting: Mary, Plane Speaker, Overbuzzed, Roger Overnaut, Joe from Ventura, Bill from Barron Pk, Curmudgeon from Downtown North, Jetman, and Nature Lover; we need your your ideas and energy! It is clear that we have excellent neighborhood representation just counting those who have posted here.

[Portion removed.]

We have a long battle ahead--let's get started!



Posted by Helicopter
a resident of Ventura
on Mar 3, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Don't know if it's from the local airport, but does anyone know if the half-hour of hovering helicopter around Park and Lambert this morning can be prevented in the future?

It appeared to be functioning as a large, leaf blower to clean up the area under it.

And it was quite loud.


Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 3, 2016 at 4:02 pm

Blame developers. Not our airport.

PAPD 9:04am tweet: "The helicopter near Oregon/Page Mill is assisting with a private construction project, and will be done by 10 a.m."

Odd the helicopter did not show up on WebTrak or Flightradar24.


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