News

Santa Clara County Fire will take over firefighting service on a portion of NASA Ames

Santa Clara County fire services will soon be responsible for a portion of the NASA Ames Research Center, following a land retrocession. File photo by Michelle Le

Santa Clara County will soon be responsible for taking over firefighting on a portion of the NASA Ames Research Center, replacing services that the federal government historically had provided.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday, Sept. 27, to create a new fire protection zone on a portion of NASA Ames property, allowing the county to take over fire services as well as generate a revenue stream to support those services.

“I think this is the federal government saying, ‘We don’t want to be in the business of providing these services, as these are services that are typically provided by local government,’ to which the county is saying, ‘Fair enough, but we don’t want to be in the business of picking up the cost for your services,’” said Supervisor Joe Simitian, whose District 5 includes NASA Ames.

The new Zone 3 is roughly 1,400 acres and includes much of the Moffett Federal Airfield. Highway 101 runs along the south section of the new zone, which borders Mountain View city limits to the south and west, and Sunnyvale city limits to the south, east and north.

The new fire protection Zone 3 is outlined in black. County supervisors approved the creation of the new zone on NASA Ames land at its Sept. 27 meeting. Image by Malea Martin with map courtesy Santa Clara County.

Previously, the Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection District did not provide services to NASA Ames because it was under exclusive federal jurisdiction, according to a staff report. But because of an anticipated increase in private mixed-use development on its property, NASA Ames indicated its intent to retrocede some of its land.

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

Retrocession means the land would come under concurrent federal and state jurisdiction. It also means that the local government, in this case Santa Clara County, becomes responsible for providing services there.

But doing so comes at a high cost, with an even higher cost anticipated once new developments are built out. Those potential developments include a 90,000-square-foot Google office building, a 2,100-apartment complex and 100,000 square feet of retail and services over the next 15 to 20 years. In addition, University of California, Berkeley plans to build 200 housing units and 1.3 million square feet of research and development, academic, medical, conference and retail space, according to Supervisor Simitian's office.

“If you construct a 90,000 square foot office building, that’s going to generate several hundred occupants and a building that would require fire services,” Simitian told the Voice.

In order for the county to provide these higher-level services after the retrocession occurs, the Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection District asked the board to authorize the creation of Zone 3. By creating a new zone, the fire district can collect taxes from those living and working there, which can fund the fire services the county will have to provide.

The county also wanted to ensure that people who live in Zone 3 are the ones paying for the services there, so that non-Zone 3 residents aren’t essentially subsidizing them through their tax dollars, the staff report said.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

“We want to make sure that the folks and facilities that occupy the land at NASA Ames in the years to come are kept safe and secure, but we want to make sure that service is paid for by the beneficiaries of the service,” Simitian said. “We want to keep everybody safe, and make sure everybody pays their fair share.”

The resolution to create Zone 3 passed unanimously at the Sept. 27 meeting.

Malea Martin
Malea Martin covers the city hall beat in Mountain View. Before joining the Mountain View Voice in 2022, she covered local politics and education for New Times San Luis Obispo, a weekly newspaper on the Central Coast of California. Read more >>

Follow Mountain View Voice Online on Twitter @mvvoice, Facebook and on Instagram @mvvoice for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Santa Clara County Fire will take over firefighting service on a portion of NASA Ames

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Tue, Sep 27, 2022, 1:53 pm

Santa Clara County will soon be responsible for taking over firefighting on a portion of the NASA Ames Research Center, replacing services that the federal government historically had provided.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday, Sept. 27, to create a new fire protection zone on a portion of NASA Ames property, allowing the county to take over fire services as well as generate a revenue stream to support those services.

“I think this is the federal government saying, ‘We don’t want to be in the business of providing these services, as these are services that are typically provided by local government,’ to which the county is saying, ‘Fair enough, but we don’t want to be in the business of picking up the cost for your services,’” said Supervisor Joe Simitian, whose District 5 includes NASA Ames.

The new Zone 3 is roughly 1,400 acres and includes much of the Moffett Federal Airfield. Highway 101 runs along the south section of the new zone, which borders Mountain View city limits to the south and west, and Sunnyvale city limits to the south, east and north.

Previously, the Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection District did not provide services to NASA Ames because it was under exclusive federal jurisdiction, according to a staff report. But because of an anticipated increase in private mixed-use development on its property, NASA Ames indicated its intent to retrocede some of its land.

Retrocession means the land would come under concurrent federal and state jurisdiction. It also means that the local government, in this case Santa Clara County, becomes responsible for providing services there.

But doing so comes at a high cost, with an even higher cost anticipated once new developments are built out. Those potential developments include a 90,000-square-foot Google office building, a 2,100-apartment complex and 100,000 square feet of retail and services over the next 15 to 20 years. In addition, University of California, Berkeley plans to build 200 housing units and 1.3 million square feet of research and development, academic, medical, conference and retail space, according to Supervisor Simitian's office.

“If you construct a 90,000 square foot office building, that’s going to generate several hundred occupants and a building that would require fire services,” Simitian told the Voice.

In order for the county to provide these higher-level services after the retrocession occurs, the Santa Clara County Central Fire Protection District asked the board to authorize the creation of Zone 3. By creating a new zone, the fire district can collect taxes from those living and working there, which can fund the fire services the county will have to provide.

The county also wanted to ensure that people who live in Zone 3 are the ones paying for the services there, so that non-Zone 3 residents aren’t essentially subsidizing them through their tax dollars, the staff report said.

“We want to make sure that the folks and facilities that occupy the land at NASA Ames in the years to come are kept safe and secure, but we want to make sure that service is paid for by the beneficiaries of the service,” Simitian said. “We want to keep everybody safe, and make sure everybody pays their fair share.”

The resolution to create Zone 3 passed unanimously at the Sept. 27 meeting.

Comments

There are no comments yet. Please share yours below.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.