News

NASA wants GSA to dispose of Hangar One, Moffett airfield

Another twist, as government agency may decide what to do with 'excess' property

Derailing restoration plans for Hangar One and causing anxiety over Moffett Field's future, the head of NASA wants to assign the General Services Administration to determine the fate of Moffett Field.

NASA administrator Charles Bolden says Hangar One and the runways at Moffett Field are "excess to the agency" and therefore should undergo a review by the General Services Administration, according to an April 6 letter to Congresswoman Anna Eshoo. The GSA may decide to give the property to another government agency, such as the Federal Aviation Administration or nearby cities.

The GSA's involvement is not yet a done deal, however, and Eshoo is trying to get the White House to stop the move.

Eshoo says that the local community has confirmed its support for existing plans for the airfield and Hangar One several times in recent years and is therefore "disheartened by the news and skeptical about the practicality of such a review," she said in a letter on Wednesday to the Moffett Field Restoration Advisory Board.

The RAB will meet and discuss the situation this evening at 7 p.m. at the Mountain View Senior center, 266 Escuela Avenue.

"The local community has been working with NASA Ames, Navy, regulators, and other stakeholders for more than 15 years, a sometimes contentious but ultimately constructive process that has resulted in a clear understanding among all of the parties," writes RAB member Steve Williams on his blog. "But NASA headquarters wants to start that process over with yet another bureaucratic federal administration, the General Services Administration."

Bolden's announcement came as a response to Eshoo's continued push to have NASA headquarters sign off on H211's proposal to save Hangar One, which the community has struggled to do over the last decade. But because there is no "mission" for Hangar One, Bolden says it cannot be leased in the long term to the founders of Google, who through their private plane operator H211 LLC have offered to restore the iconic structure, priced by NASA at over $45 million.

So far Bolden has only singled out Hangar One and the Moffett runways as areas that could be surplussed, so there is still some question as to what area will be under review, said Bill Berry, RAB co-chair and former NASA Ames administrator.

"There are still a lot of jobs that go along with the airfield," including cargo flights for Lockheed and Space Systems Loral and used by the National Guard and the Air Force, said City Council member Jac Siegel. "NASA headquarters and NASA Ames are not on the same page. We are not real happy about that at all."

"Because NASA has determined that these properties no longer have a mission need and are therefore excess to the Agency, NASA's enhanced use lease authorities are not available for these properties," Bolden wrote on April 6 responding to Eshoo's request for such a lease for H211. "Given this determination, we believe a process under GSA's expertise and array of authorities will best address the interests of the community, NASA, and the federal government at large for these properties."

In his last letter to Eshoo, which is also signed by GSA acting administrator Daniel Tangherlini, Bolden does not use the word "excess" to describe Moffett, possibly indicating that he will be leaving that to the GSA to determine during the review. A final determination could take years, Berry said.

If NASA does give up Moffett, Siegel said the city of Mountain View could be given half the airfield, including Hangar One. The Federal Aviation Administration could have first dibs, however, though Siegel says another airport at Moffett would be a hard sell when San Jose airport is at only 65 percent capacity.

"We are definitely in line to possibly get half of that airfield," Siegel said. "That property out there would actually become Mountain View. That is something we need to prepare for."

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Federal Recreational Committee
a resident of Shoreline West
on May 10, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Keggar!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 10, 2012 at 3:15 pm

The headline of this story is misleading. The GSA hasn't made a decision to dispose of Hangar 1 yet.

I sure hope they do. Tear it down already.

There is still a lot of military left on Moffett. Is the plan to have all that move out as well? I don't know what we'd do with half of that place. It's got to be polluted after all those years of military use.

Another couple decades yelling at the Feds for more money to clean it up. Awesome.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tina
a resident of Whisman Station
on May 10, 2012 at 3:18 pm

summertime airshows?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by SaveHangarOne
a resident of Cuernavaca
on May 10, 2012 at 4:41 pm

Did anyone ever give Google an answer to their generous offer to reskin the hangar?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by OMG, NO!
a resident of Whisman Station
on May 10, 2012 at 6:59 pm

I HATE THIS IDEAS, BUT --

Someone who doesn't have to live with the mess it will cause will look at a map and say something like "Let's turn Moffett Field into a commercial airport. It's near freeways. It has a light-rail connection. There can be a shuttle to the planned High Speed Railroad. It has a railroad spur. It's close to major business headquarters. There are no tall buildings in the flight path. It looks like it can handle bigger planes than San Jose. In its current situation, Moffett Field is a severely underused community resource. With proper development, it could become a major Bay Area multimodal transportation hub and raise property values in and taxes for the cities that surround it."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Doug Pearson
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 10, 2012 at 8:26 pm

OMG, NO! has resurrected one of the first ideas for what to do with Moffett Field when the Navy left (turn it into an airport) and pointed out a number of advantages.

Here are a number of disadvantages:

Noise. Regular, frequent airline landings and takeoffs will subject Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto and even Santa Clara to more noise, more frequent noise, and noise at more times of the day than were common during the Navy's heyday. Such a move, taken to its logical conclusion, could mean closing SJC and moving noise and air pollution from a large part of San Jose to the cities surrounding Moffett Field. There are a number of advantages of that to San Jose, but I doubt they would consider them worth the cost of losing their downtown airport.

Cost. The cost to develop this idea would far exceed the cost of re-skinning Hanger One and probably involve tearing down the hanger anyway. The developers would say they would bear the cost but I'd be very surprised if the cities didn't wind up contributing big bucks some way or other--most likely in reduced tax income.

Global Warming. To avoid drowning a significant part of the runways, both would have to be lifted a meter or two--at least--at immense cost. Japan actually did this for an airport in a bay near Tokyo. Now they have discovered that the great weight of all that land fill is sinking the airport, while the sea level is rising. Or, the other end of the runways would have to be extended across 101 into the neighboring Sunnyvale golf course and industrial park. Reconstruction of 101 to put it under the runways (and the light rail and railroad spur), as well as the Mathilda, 237, and Ellis interchanges would also be very expensive. And, the buried 101 would be below sea level with additional operational costs to keep it dry.

Airport design. But just lifting or extending the runways is not enough. Current airport design best practices would put much greater distance between the two runways to allow maximum traffic in bad weather, requiring much more land than is available. San Francisco wanted to solve that problem with more Bay land fill and was rightly shot down.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 10, 2012 at 10:20 pm

"Derailing restoration plans for Hangar One and causing anxiety over Moffett Field's future, the head of NASA wants to assign the General Services Administration to determine the fate of Moffett Federal Airfield and Hangar One."

--------------------

This is a classic case of "passing the buck"...

One wonders if the Navy and then Nasa painted itself into a proverbial corner after 15 years of negotiation and discovery, and decided this was the most cost effective, and risk/responsibility avoiding way to get out of the situation.

Still, if Mountain View were to retain ownership of this land, it would be a good opportunity for redevelopment and open space.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 10, 2012 at 10:25 pm


"Someone who doesn't have to live with the mess it will cause will look at a map and say something like "Let's turn Moffett Field into a commercial airport. It's near freeways. It has a light-rail connection. There can be a shuttle to the planned High Speed Railroad. It has a railroad spur. It's close to major business headquarters. There are no tall buildings in the flight path. It looks like it can handle bigger planes than San Jose. In its current situation, Moffett Field is a severely underused community resource. With proper development, it could become a major Bay Area multimodal transportation hub and raise property values in and taxes for the cities that surround it."

----------------

All very valid points, IF one were starting from scratch and didn't have a newly built airport just minutes away that is less than 70% of capacity.

There's simply not a good economic reason to sink so much money into something we don't need now, and may never need in the future...sort of like High Speed Rail.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rodgrr
a resident of Sylvan Park
on May 11, 2012 at 10:26 am

We don't need a second airport, San Jose Airport is working well with a new terminal, we do need housing close to jobs which should reduce the impact on the highways which are overloaded.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dike
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 11, 2012 at 11:44 am

@Doug Pearson: They wouldn't have to raise the runways. They could just build a dike. Or build two dikes to mitigate the problem if one fails. Two dikes would still be cheaper than lifting hundreds of acres of land.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steve Ly
a resident of another community
on May 12, 2012 at 11:15 am

It's a disgrace how the Obama administration ignores the Bay Area community and the Congressional delegation of his own party. He could order NASA to accept the proposal to re-skin the hangar, which should have been done by now. It's a national disgrace that NASA and the NAVY have been blowing off fixing Hangar one


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of another community
on May 13, 2012 at 7:25 pm

A hanger for a blimp that crashed 75 years ago? Tear it down already.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by zparvez
a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Do whatever - just NO AIR TRAFFIC!!!
Get Google planes and National Guard out of there! They have no regards for the communities and the people. They fly in and out and do touch and go's really late at night. ENOUGH!


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