Google may move planes from Moffett to San Jose


After plenty of difficulty in dealing with their federal government landlords at Moffett Field, Google's leaders are nearly set to build a facility for their planes at Mineta San Jose International Airport.

A San Jose City Council vote in April is set for the plan recommended by airport director Bill Sherry. It beat out two other proposals for the 29 acres along Martin Avenue and would place an $82 million facility at the airport in a partnership between Signature Aviation and Google's leaders, represented by Blue City Holdings, San Jose, LLC. The 270,000-square-foot facility is designed to achieve LEED gold status and would serve other private planes besides Google's fleet, which include several Gulfstream jets and two former airliners made by Boeing.

The plan comes after NASA and the White House did not embrace a proposal in late 2011 for Google's executives to restore and lease Hangar One at Moffett Field for their fleet, an endeavor estimated to cost over $45 million.

"They are doing this because NASA didn't say yes," to restoring Hangar One, said Lenny Siegel, a member of the San Hangar One committee. "This is an indication that the proposal got rejected."

The proposal for Hangar One from H211 LLC - the company formed to operate the Google fleet at Moffett -- was considered a blessing by those who had been fighting to preserve Hangar One for years and could not get Congress, NASA or the Navy to fund its restoration. The iconic structure was recently stripped to its bare frame in an environmental cleanup.

"I think this is a the equivalent of a great gift falling out of heaven right in our laps." said Congresswoman Anna Eshoo at the time. "There is not any other option on the table today to preserve Hangar One."

The proposed terminal would apparently be a boon for the San Jose Airport, which will see $2.6 million a year in a 50-year lease, plus as much as $700,000 a year in taxes and fuel fees.

"We're pleased that the evaluation process for the development of Mineta San Jose International Airport's West Side is now complete, and the recommended outcome will prove to be incredibly prosperous for SJC, the City of San Jose, and Silicon Valley," said Sherry, San Jose airport director of aviation, in a statement.

The airport's $1.4 billion upgrade to the terminal area, completed in 2010, opened up a significant amount of land on the west side, he said.

"Now, our focus must be the proposed private development and $82 million investment of the West Side by Signature Flight Support, to support the private aviation needs of local high-tech and other companies, most notably the personal aircraft of the principals at Google," Sherry said.

Since 2007, Google's leaders have housed the fleet at Moffett Field, paying $1.3 million a year to rent Hangar 211 from NASA, which has struggled to pay for airfield operations. But the deal has been controversial one, drawing bad publicity.

Critics have called it favoritism for Google's executives, who are able to use a federal airfield usually reserved for used by the government and government contractors. The lease has been justified though the use of Google planes for NASA's research, including the gathering of data from the atmosphere and observing meteor showers, but it is unclear how often of how consistently the planes are used that way.

Siegel said H211 is still interested in using Moffett, possibly in addition to San Jose's airport. But he and former NASA Ames administrator Bill Berry expect Hangar One and the Moffett runways to be declared excess property by NASA soon. Siegel says the community should be ready for such a move by creating an advisory board on possible future uses for Moffett.

H211 director Ken Ambrose did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


Like this comment
Posted by Ron
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 8, 2013 at 2:33 pm

Well, that's it. That money offer is gone. No one else is going to come up with it, least of all the government. So the hanger is coming down. It is just a matter of when. In my opinion it is an icon for the Silicon Valley no less that the GG Bridge or Seattle Space Needle are for their cities. Sad, but I really don't see any other options on the horizon.

Like this comment
Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on Feb 8, 2013 at 2:47 pm

The Hanger could be such an awesome mixed use space if developed, museum, live/work, events. I really want to go see what happens with The Great Park in Irvine.

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 8, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Hangar One is a SV icon. They are fools not to accept the Google proposal.

Like this comment
Posted by kman
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 8, 2013 at 4:54 pm

I worked at NASA and I would not call it an icon, you can't even get to it like GGB or space needle. All it is is a giant barn that is an eye sore.

Like this comment
Posted by Randy
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2013 at 5:27 pm

More brilliant action, or non-action by your federal government.
Lets see...
"from NASA, which has struggled to pay for airfield operations."
Yet nobody can decide how to say YES to something that would preserve an icon and fund the airfield.
Just brilliant...

Like this comment
Posted by Oscar
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 8, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Thank heavens!!!! So glad those loud noisy planes will be based in San Jose and not right next to my house..thank you thank you thank you...

Like this comment
Posted by Lori
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 8, 2013 at 8:52 pm

Too bad that NASA and Google could not work it out. As for the neighbors that don't like living next to Moffett, I am not sympathic since Moffet was there LONG before any house was ever built and you moved in then began complaining about noise. You should have bought somewhere else.

Like this comment
Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 8, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Comparing Hangar 1 to the Golden Gate Bridge or the Space Needle is just silly.

And what is "mixed used" anyway? I have been out to the hangar in the last couple months. That is one depressing looking place. All buildings around it are in need of attention. I don't know who you think would want to use that space and god knows what they would do in there.

Google is probably moving for that same reason. They want to build a nice terminal. It would be a waste to build it in the middle of an abandonded Navy base.

I'll be the first to say it's sad to see it go. But I don't want to pay one dollar of my money to keep it around. It's time to say goodbye.

Like this comment
Posted by Oscar
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 9, 2013 at 8:07 am

@ Lori
Google was not here when I bought. Google planes were not here when I bought. The military planes did not buzz my house like the planes are doing now. If you lived out here, you'd know what I'm talking about.
I think moving out to San Jose is a great idea. It's probably easier and more cost effective for google to maintain their planes and hanger inan already built airport. Better for everyone, all around.
& the hanger is an eyesore.

Like this comment
Posted by Anna S.
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 9, 2013 at 9:18 am

If you think one or two Google exec planes a day are annoying and noisy, how are you going to like it when the feds sell the airfield to a commercial operator who will permit huge numbers of Fedex planes to take off and land every day?

If I were you, I'd be kicking up a fuss.

Like this comment
Posted by Mr. Nice
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 9, 2013 at 10:03 am

Anna S. You should get your facts right, we voted on measure F several years ago to prevent air cargo carriers to use Moffett. [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

Like this comment
Posted by Myself
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 9, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Oscar, I have no idea who you are, but I totally agree. Who needs planes flying over our houses and rattling the paintings off the wall at 2 AM?

Like this comment
Posted by Greg Nelson
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 9, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Amazing misinformation in comments here.
1. Noisy planes complained about are more than likely the Air Sea Rescue Unit still stationed at Moffett. They by necessity operate 24/7 and they are prop planes, very noisy. I've NEVER heard them at 2 AM and I live within a mile of Moffett. Doubt very much the whined about noise (especially at 2AM) is from the Google Boys' jets.
2. North Whisman Station must be at least 2 miles from Moffett Field - hard to imagine residents hear planes' noise. You should be far more concerned IMO about the toxic waste under your homes.
3. NASA administrator Bolden has written off Hanger One restoration by declaring it excess property - a procedure that will likely take 10 years to achieve, effectively wiping his hands of responsibility. What a jerk!
4. Save Hanger One group and Congresswoman Eshoo have worked tirelessly for many years
to restore Hanger One to its iconic stature, Bolden has effectively roadblocked their efforts.
5. No fan of Google Boys, yet at least they've made a serious effort to preserve this icon.

Like this comment
Posted by sue muller
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2013 at 8:02 am

The Hanger is our history, I live in Orchard Gardens, have since 1980, near the, soon to be gone, Blue Cube. I see more cars and building five stories or more as a real issue, to fill the space. Open space, the planes, helicopters, and other in coming are not a problem for me.Google being there was a great solution. This air field could be used in an emergence.
That land is fill, liquid in an earth quake. I am 25 feet from sea level,they are at or below, I think, at some levels. It is also home to wild life.

Like this comment
Posted by Patty
a resident of Castro City
on Feb 11, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Tear it down. It's so ugly. Me and my girlfriends look at it each day, and can't believe how ugly it is. In fact, my friend Rebecca said it was so ugly, she couldn't do pilates the other day, because she kept thinking about it. As you can see, it's very bad, because it's preventing people from going about their important daily business. Tear it down.

Like this comment
Posted by gcoladon
a resident of Slater
on Feb 12, 2013 at 2:11 pm

gcoladon is a registered user.

@Patty, thank you for the excellently absurd argument, that made my day.

Like this comment
Posted by LoveYourDNA
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 12, 2013 at 2:31 pm

It's sad to see NASA struggle and the airfield go away. I'm always ambivalent about "progress"...

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 12, 2013 at 3:15 pm

As long as they're only moving their airplanes! The Mountain View city machine has become hugely dependant on Google money. When Google realizes how much farther their money goes with a different municipality, all of Mtn View will suffer.

Like this comment
Posted by Myself
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 13, 2013 at 10:44 am

To Greg:
1. These are definitely jets.
2. I'm on Easy St.

To Steve:
1. Google pays zero taxes to Mountain View. If we had another company there they well might.

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 14, 2013 at 3:04 pm

I'll call BS on that last statement. Google supports the city financially, and in a HUGE way. A portion of county property tax is returned to the city, there are city utility taxes, and their fees to the planning department must be staggering. Not to mention Google's generous support of city projects. It's always rewarding to contribute to them!
The only thing missing would be sales tax, maybe the city should charge them an 'in lieu' fee for shirking their responsibility.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Shoreline West

on Jun 5, 2017 at 9:07 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Nobu Palo Alto eyes next-door expansion
By Elena Kadvany | 5 comments | 3,320 views

Are We Really Up To This?
By Aldis Petriceks | 4 comments | 1,808 views

Couples: Cultivate Love, Gottman Style
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 560 views


Top restaurants to check out

Mountain View Voice readers have officially decided. See which local restaurants and businesses can now claim the title — Best Of Mountain View 2017.

View Winners