The Foothill-DeAnza Board of Directors met in closed session to decide what to do in light of resistance to its acquiring land at Cubberley in Palo Alto. It was announced shortly afterwards that the Board has voted to pursue acquiring land at Onizuka under a Public Benefit Conveyance as part of the Feds’ Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. Under that program, FHDA would essentially get the land for free, with the Feds requiring FHDA to pay for site demolition. FHDA is interested in acquiring 8 acres or more for a new education center. The available land at Onizuka is 9 acres, with the possibility of an additional five acres if some arrangements can be made with two homeless housing providers (and the City is already working on possible alternate sites for those providers).
Mayor Hamilton and I were present at the open session to provide comments and participate as appropriate. Lacking Palo Alto as a candidate, FHDA examined Onizuka and a 10-acre parcel on Kifer in Sunnyvale as their next best options before settling on Onizuka. The Board cited several reasons for the decision – first and foremost the reduced cost of a Public Benefit Conveyance, the proximity to 101 in light of all other facilities being near 280, proximity to bus and light rail access, and proximity to a rapidly-growing community. The Board also specifically commended Sunnyvale city staff for being extremely accommodating and responsive to FHDA during this process (something that our staff has become very well-known for).
This is not a done deal. It still requires the approval of the City’s Local Redevelopment Agency and the Feds. But this is a big step forward. There are a lot of opportunities here for partnerships between FHDA and the many high-tech companies literally next door to the location, and this has the potential to be a significant asset for Sunnyvale.