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A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section

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Downtown San Jose building height limits come with price tag

By Eli Wolfe, San Jose Spotlight, October 4, 2021

“Airlines flying out of Mineta San Jose International Airport have lost an estimated $2.8 million in combined revenue due to a 2019 policy that raised the height limit for towers being built in San Jose by up to 35 feet downtown and 150 feet in the Diridon Station area.

“The loss occurs because Federal Aviation Administration safety guidelines force airlines to fly with a reduced number of passengers depending on the height of buildings. […]

“A new policy passed [in September] in San Jose will force developers to pay fees if their cranes exceed the downtown height limit, impacting the operations of nearby airlines. Money from the fund will be used to compensate passengers bumped from flights, with airlines having the discretion to refund fares, pay for a hotel or both.

“Fred Buzo, San Jose director for SPUR, said it’s too early to tell whether the 2019 policy is going to have a long-term detrimental impact on the airport, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as one potential confounding factor.

“When it comes to the crane fee, funds won’t be collected for the first six months of use. If cranes are still up after this period, developers must pay tens of thousands of dollars, although fees may be reduced if they’re working on multiple projects. [Scott Knies, executive director of the San Jose Downtown Association] said this will help the airlines, but he’s concerned with how it could potentially hamper development in the future.”

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