Congressional candidates weigh-in on USGS properties

Doesn't include candidates who didn't return the Post's message seeking comment.

Daily Post Staff Writer

Whoever gets elected to Congresswoman Anna Eshoo’s seat will be a leading voice on the future of two federally owned properties on the Peninsula: a 15-acre USGS campus in the middle of Menlo Park, and the sprawling Moffett Field east of Highway 101 in Mountain View.

Both properties have a history of scientific innovation but are currently underused.

The federal government has tried to sell off the USGS site at 345 Middlefield Road, but nobody bid on it at an auction. Moffett is 100 times the size and has a lot of moving parts, including research and military activity.

So the Post asked all 10 candidates: If you are elected, what would you do with these properties?

Supervisor Joe Simitian said Menlo Park City Council will decide the fate of the USGS site at 345 Middlefield Road. He said he wants to make sure that “maximizing revenue” for the federal government doesn’t crowd out local perspectives.

Former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo also wants to defer to the local interests. He said he would look into expanding the GeoKids day care center at USGS and repurposing the laboratories for educational purposes.

Former Menlo Park Mayor Peter Ohtaki said the federal government should donate some land for affordable housing and pursue “live-work-play mixed uses” at Moffett Field. That’s a better idea than putting dense housing in neighborhoods, like the state has tried to do, he said.

Former Marine Peter Dixon said he used to live at Moffett Field. He said he would “leverage Pentagon support” to revitalize both sites, “which can and should be providing thousands of quality homes.”

Assemblyman Evan Low said he wants to continue Eshoo’s work to maintain Moffett Field as a federal educational and emergency services hub.

At the USGS site, Low said it makes sense to explore both housing and other options, “with an eye toward ensuring that any development is compatible with the surrounding community.”

Former Saratoga Councilman Rishi Kumar said planning at Moffett Field should account for sea level rise, which means leaving some open space. Some acreage should be used as affordable housing for teachers, firefighters, and police officers, and some should be used for “innovation centers.”

Stanford graduate student Joby Bernstein had two similar priorities: innovation and affordable housing.

“I want to ensure these campuses can continue to lead in scientific advancements,” he said.

Attorney Ahmed Mostafa said he would advocate for affordable housing. “Not even the federal government is immune to the extreme unaffordability that our communities have been facing for decades,” he said.

Palo Alto Councilwoman Julie Lythcott-Haims didn’t respond by the Post’s deadline.

Greg Tanaka said he would promote “a dynamic, mixed-use development,” including affordable housing and educational facilities.

At Moffett Field, he wants to transform the area “into a beacon of technological innovation and education.”