Economic engines prepare for success

The City Council is scheduled March 12 to change a long-standing practice that would add height to future downtown buildings and maintain the economic integrity of San Jose International Airport (SJC).

The city first grappled with the issue in 2007.

After a year-long study and input from SJC staff, airlines, airport commissioners and downtown stakeholders led by SJDA, a recommendation emerged to follow the Federal Aviation Administration’s U.S. Standard for Terminal Instrument Procedures (TERPS), which designates the initial climb area for airplane departures and, in this case, focuses on 13 percent of the SJC flights that take off south over downtown.

Using FAA standards, the maximum height of buildings in the downtown core would gain 0 to 35 feet, and buildings on the west side of downtown, where Google plans to build a large campus, would add 70 to 150 feet of height.  In the Diridon area, the potential taller buildings could result in an additional 8.6 million square feet of space, valued today at about $4.4 billion, for downtown’s burgeoning economic engine.

Meanwhile, only a few of the long-haul flights out of SJC would be impacted.  Affected flights could respond to weight issues by requesting another runway, off-loading passenger and/or cargo, making a refueling stop, changing aircraft or canceling the flight.

In no case is passenger safety a factor.