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Onizuka Air Force Station Redevelopment

September 2011 closure will affect the remaining military, federal civilian and contract employees.

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Since 1960 the Onizuka Air Force Station (AFS) in Sunnyvale has been an important, high security military communication station and operational support for NASA Mission Control. The Department of Defense slated Onizuka Air Force Station (AFS) for closure through the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC) and its military mission will be transferred to Vandenberg Air Force Base. The 18+ acre site contains 507,457 square feet of space in 33 outdated buildings, including the “Blue Cube,” and is located at Mathilda Avenue just north of State Route 237 and U.S. 101. Earlier realignments reduced Onizuka’s workforce by nearly 3,000 jobs, and the September 2011 closure will affect the remaining military, federal civilian and contract employees.

On April 6, 2006 the Department of Defense formally recognized the City Council of Sunnyvale as the Local Redevelopment Authority (LRA) for planning the conversion of Onizuka AFS to civilian use. During the official review and screening process the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) requested a portion of the property (2.41 acres) for offices and parking and two community-based homeless service providers requested 7.2acres to address the needs of Sunnyvale’s homeless residents. These proposals leave only 9.4 acres – half the area of the original site – for planning and reuse.

In 2007-2008 the LRA, with resident input from the Onizuka Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC), identified and completed preliminary market and feasibility analysis for five conceptual land use options. Based on this analysis, in December 2008, the LRA adopted the Onizuka AFS Redevelopment Plan which proposed a multi-tenant Auto Center as the preferred reuse for the entire site. The Auto Center was selected for its possible benefits to the community, its retention of existing auto dealerships, and for the future revitalization of El Camino Real. The auto center option also created the least traffic and other environmental impacts of the reuse options considered.

The LRA submitted the Final Redevelopment Plan, a mandatory homeless assistance submission and its property conveyance recommendation to the Air Force in December 2008. The recommended “economic development conveyance” from the Air Force to the City would allow the proceeds of the property’s sale and development to be used to off-set City costs such as compensating VA and homeless housing providers for withdrawing their interests so that the facility may be developed as a single parcel.

During 2009-10 conceptual refinements to improve the Auto Center’s feasibility were completed and presented to the LRA on September 28, 2010. The LRA reviwed the Onizuka Auto Center Refinement Summary Report and discussed the findings. The LRA moved to continue the item to the October 5, 2010 LRA hearing. On October 5, the LRA provided direction to staff to amend the Redevelopment Plan to pursue alternative land uses for the Onizuka AFS site consistent with the Moffett Park Specific Plan and existing MP-I zoning for the property, with the exception of office uses. They asked staff to further evaluate possibly PBC uses such a branch library, education facility, public health care facility, city park or law enforcement/emergency operations center. Further, they asked staff to investigate the feasibility of a data center and possibly adapting the Blue Cube for such a use. The Air Force has also expressed an interest in the analysis of a data center to assist their property appraisal, so there is mutual benefit in such an analysis for both parties.

Your Participation in this Process is Welcome

During the two-year process of analyzing reuse options and preparing the Final Redevelopment Plan, the LRA relied upon the valuable advisory opinions of residents, public agencies and private sector interests who participated in the deliberations of the Onizuka Citizen Advisory Committee. The LRA is grateful for the assistance of the many CAC volunteers who participated in the formulation of the Final Redevelopment Plan.

Interested residents, developers, auto dealers, and consultants, who would like to be informed of the progress of this important project, are invited to be included in the email list for notifications. Simply e-mail a request to the LRA at the contact information to the left.

Homeless Assistance

In planning the reuse of Onizuka AFS, the 1994 Base Closure Community Redevelopment and Homeless Assistance Act requires the City to “balance” homeless resident needs with other economic and development needs. The Act mandated that the City conduct a local screening process to identify other development needs – as seen by other government and community-based service agencies. The public notice process resulted in two non-profit homeless service agencies submitting “Notices of Interest” for six acres of the facility for housing construction to address Sunnyvale’s homeless needs, wich is estimated at 299 persons.

In evaluating these two homeless proposals, the LRA weighed numerous factors, including community needs and objectives set forth in the May 2005, City of Sunnyvale 2005-2010 Consolidated Plan. The LRA also weighed the proposals’ financial feasibility, surrounding area impacts, and its “no cost” property conveyance which overcomes the major obstacle to housing in the region.

Finally, the LRA held public hearings, facility tours and staff interviews. In all, the balancing process involved ten public hearings of the CA C. At the conclusion of this process, the LRA found that a no-cost homeless conveyance was needed to balance local homeless needs with other community needs. The LRA approved the two proposals with a key condition: at its own discretion the LRA may withdraw the two claims and compensate the agencies for property at other locations. Any LRA action to remove the parties depends upon the property being conveyed in such a way that the proceeds of the property’s sale or development could reimburse these costs. This ensures that the proceeds from the federal property – not the community – pay the cost of compliance with federal mandates and that the closure of Onizuka AFS benefits Sunnyvale’s homeless population and the community at large.

The LRA approved a legally binding agreement to achieve this balance when it approved the Final Redevelopment Plan for Onizuka. The Homeless Assistance Plan, submitted to the Air Force in December 2008, can be accessed through the link below.

Homeless Assistance Plan

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