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Morgan Hill
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October 16, 2021

Spirit of compromise needed on SM airport

It looks like both sides of the South County Airport issue are
headed toward a Little Arthur Creek-style standoff.
It looks like both sides of the South County Airport issue are headed toward a Little Arthur Creek-style standoff.

Whoa. We don’t need another decades-long, lawsuit-laced debate – like the still-unresolved tussle on whether to allow equestrian uses at Little Arthur Creek – about the county airport in San Martin.

Santa Clara County officials – who at one point considered closing San Jose’s Reid-Hillview Airport and moving all those customers to San Martin – compromised and decided to keep that facility open but to direct most general aviation growth to the South County Airport. That decision didn’t please many San Martin residents, who adamantly oppose any expansion of the two-runway facility just west of U.S. 101.

Now, as the county finally prepares to move forward with 20-year-old plans to build 100 hangars at South County Airport, some neighbors are threatening a lawsuit to require the county to conduct a full-blown environmental impact analysis.

County officials counter that nothing has changed since a 1982 analysis was done, making the estimated $100,000 expenditure for an environmental impact report a waste of taxpayer funds. They want to make a “negative declaration” – essentially stating that the proposed hangars would have little or no negative impact on the environment.

We urge both sides to sit down, find some common ground and compromise for the sake of county taxpayers and South Valley residents. No one – other, perhaps, than those who would do anything to delay or prevent any move toward airport expansion – wants an expensive legal battle every step along the way.

We’re not talking about seeing eye-to-eye on abortion or finding Osama bin Laden. Surely the anti-expansion forces – who cite worries about noise, pollution and aesthetic impacts from the hangars – and the county can find a way to address those concerns without adding excessive delays or costs to the project. We can do this.

Both sides, from neighborhood activists to county leaders, need to take a long, hard look at the big picture before deciding the right course of action is mule-like stubbornness – digging in their heels and refusing to budge. There has to be a reasonable compromise – one that gives each side something it wants, and forces each side to accept something it doesn’t like – and we urge everyone involved to find it.

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