“This is a shining example of how multiple agencies can work together to transfer this facility, and provide the local community with the facilities it needs for a new life,” said Steve Mayer, Air Force BRAC Transition Coordinator.
This concludes a very long process and a significant victory for the City of Sunnyvale. When I was elected to office, the city had been muddling through various options and had settled somewhat reluctantly on the concept of an auto mall. But the lack of a good plan, hesitance on Council, and a very slow-moving city caused Sunnyvale to request delay after delay, and we were in danger of losing the property entirely.
Shortly after that, our new City Manager met with officials from Foothill-De Anza, developed the concept of a satellite campus in Sunnyvale, and brought it to the council, where it was met with unanimous approval and active support.
This was followed by a bit of a waiting game, as FHDA had selected the Cubberly location in Palo Alto as their preferred choice, with Onizuka second. Once Palo Alto brushed off FHDA, Mayor Hamilton and I went to the FHDA Board to lobby them to pursue Onizuka, which they gladly agreed to. At that point, when the city and FHDA had a common goal and vision and the will to accomplish this, and when we all presented the Air Force with a proposal that exactly matched their goals for the property, the entire process took off very rapidly.
There were any number of challenges that we faced in making this all happen. Very few people have any experience with the “Base Realignment and Closure” (BRAC) process, and we had to identify and hire a DC legal firm to take us through this, something that former City Attorney David Kahn handled very well. We had to respect claims on the property made by affordable housing providers, which was a challenge since that property is entirely unsuitable for housing to begin with. We accomplished that by transferring their claims to the Armory site, freeing up Onizuka for FHDA. And then we just had to work through one of the more complicated federal processes.
The only disappointing outcome of this is that Councilmember Swegles wasn’t here to see it happen. More than any other elected official, Councilmember Swegles worked on Onizuka in trying to find a good use for the property. I’m sure he would be very pleased to see this outcome. It’s a testament to our City Manager and former City Attorney, and to what happens when multiple agencies collaborate towards a common and worthwhile goal.