Our Founder and Executive Director, Dr. Gel Cortez, submitted this letter to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on our organization’s behalf earlier today.
We unequivocally stand with the hundreds of community members, nonprofit agencies, and grassroots organizations in a unified demand to immediately close the Reid-Hillview Airport in Eastside San Jose!
We will join everyone in testifying at tonight’s Board of Supervisors Meeting on the issue.
August 17, 2021
The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors
70 W. Hedding Street
San Jose, CA 95110
RE: Reid-Hillview Airport agenda item 37
On behalf of the members, youth, and families of L.E.A.D Filipino a San Jose-based nonprofit, I write in support of Item 37 on the August 17, 2021 Board of Supervisors agenda that calls for the closure of Reid-Hillview Airport as soon as January 1, 2022. I and many of our members, youth, and families reside in the Eastside of San Jose.
No level of toxic lead emissions belongs in neighborhoods and communities. The belief that we should continue to make accommodations for the Reid-Hillview Airport at the expense of youth and families – the majority being people of color and minority groups is baffling and misguided.
During a time of need, most especially in the larger context of addressing integrative community health, racial equity, and the region’s housing shortage, we demand the immediate closure of Reid-Hillview Airport.
There are more than 12,000 children who live within a one-and-a-half mile radius of Reid-Hillview Airport. More than 17,000 residents, just under one-third of the population, living within the same one-and-a-half-mile radius of the airport are from working class communities of color.
The toxic effects of lead have been widely accepted for decades. Lead paint has been banned in the United States since 1978. Leaded gasoline in cars and trucks has been banned since 1996. And yet, in 2021, in the heart of Silicon Valley, thousands of children, most of them from lower income households and communities of color, are exposed to toxic lead fumes from private planes flying out of Reid-Hillview almost every day.
The new report from Dr. Sammy Zahran at Colorado State University and his team that concludes that “under periods of high piston-engine aircraft traffic, children proximate to Reid-Hillview Airport experience an increase in (blood lead levels) on par with the children of Flint (Michigan) during the (Flint Water Crisis)” is both a deep cause for alarm and a call to action for the Board of Supervisors.
This is an environmental justice issue and an equity issue. The airport is surrounded by neighborhoods where almost half of the residents have only a high school diploma or less, and more than three-quarters of them speak a language other than English at home. At Donald J. Meyer Elementary School, which is located immediately adjacent to the end of the airport’s runway, more than 88% of students are considered socioeconomically disadvantaged and qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.
What is even more appalling is that these same neighborhoods on the Eastside of San Jose have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic in our county. The ZIP code that surrounds Reid-Hillview on three sides, 95122, has the highest rate of COVID cases per 100,000 people in Santa Clara County. The total number of cases in that single ZIP Code is 8,267, more than the total in all of Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Cupertino, and Saratoga combined.
We stand with the grassroots groups, civic organizations, nonprofit agencies, and community leaders and urge you to approve Item 37 on tonight’s agenda.
Dr. Angelica Cortez
Founder & Executive Director