NASA shocked local congress members in April by refusing to approve the offer from Google executives to pay to re-skin Hangar One because they no longer believe Moffett is useful or needed. They declared it surplus and proposed turning the future of Moffett Field over to the General Service Administration, which handles disposition of Federal property.
This was totally unexpected. In February a delegation from Sunnyvale spoke to the number two man at NASA and he gave no indication declaring Moffett surplus was being considered. He spoke only of continuing review of the offer for Hangar One re-skinning. Loss of Moffett will have a huge negative impact on this area, economically and from a safety and security standpoint.
Activities at Moffett refute the claim that it is un-needed and is surplus. In 2003 NASA finalized a plan for future uses at Moffett and Ames including research and educational facilities which won the GSA award for Best Innovative Policy.
In 2006 NASA Headquarters approved a 20 year business plan and land use analysis for the site. In 2010 NASA approved a 50-year lease with the California Air National Guard, and in 2011 NASA Headquarters reviewed and concurred with the Master Plan.
In December 2011 Congresswoman Eshoo and 20 other congress members urged NASA Headquarters to approve the Hangar One re-skinning plus long term lease with H221 LLC, the organization representing Google founders Page and Brin and chair Schmidt.
Letters supporting continued use of Moffett Field and re-skinning Hangar One per the H221 LLC offer were sent to NASA by the cities of Mountain View and Sunnyvale, historic preservation organizations including the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation and National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Secretary to the Air Force.
Lockheed and Space Systems/Loral sent letters stating that Moffett Field is essential for their shipment of spacecraft and space-related hardware and that loss of the airfield would have significant national security impacts. The response on April 6 from Charles Bolden, head of NASA, was a letter saying Moffett is no longerneeded and is surplus. Therefore no leases can be signed.
Objections to this position were rapid. General Baldwin, Adjutant General of the California National Guard, cities of Mountain View and Sunnyvale, Congresswoman Eshoo and 10 other congress members, the National Trust of Historic Preservation, and 3 other historic preservation organizations sent formal letters opposing NASA’s actions declaring Moffett surplus and rejecting re-skinning Hangar One.
NASA Ames and Moffett support over 8400 jobs and $1.3 billion in annual economic output, including $124 million/year in lease payments to NASA. FEMA stores emergency supplies and equipment at Moffett and identified it as Base Support Installation, meaning its’ essential for moving materials and personnel responding to emergencies. The California Air National Guard uses it as a base for rescue and emergency responses.
Congresswoman Eshoo transmitted the actions of NASA headquarters and other pertinent letters dating from January 2011 to April 2012 to the Moffett Field Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) on Wednesday May 9, just before our scheduled meeting Thursday. RAB members were extremely unhappy at the NASA action that is unwarranted and ignored reality and past history. A strong letter of concern and disagreement was authorized by the RAB and will be sent to NASA headquarters by May 17 after RAB members and Sunnyvale and Mountain View staff and councilmembers review it.