High rent forces USGS to move to Moffett Field

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For 62 years, the U.S. Geological Survey has conducted all earthquake and flood monitoring from its Menlo Park campus, until now. (KGO-TV)

For 62 years, the United States Geological Survey has conducted all earthquake and flood monitoring from its Menlo Park campus, until now.

Rising rents have prompted the agency to move in with NASA at Moffett Field.

For everyone, rent costs on the Peninsula are out of this world. And it's no different for the USGS. They're now paying the federal government $7 to $9 million a year in fair market rent in Menlo Park, costs that are projected to double.

"We can stay in our existing facility and more of our funds go to paying rent here, the opportunity cost goes up, or we can co-locate with NASA Ames, Carnegie Mellon, and other partners at Moffett Field and then the money we would have paid for rent goes to science," said Jonathan Stock, USGS Innovation Center director.

Moving 435 employees out of this sprawling campus of eight-plus structures will be a Herculean task. Offices will start moving out in 2017. Laboratories will take years to re-locate. Some of the cost savings will be invested in next generation instrumentation to continue developing an earthquake early warning system and to monitor climate and sea level changes.

Projects and people will not be cut. And collaborating with NASA scientists means covering everything from satellites to the center of the Earth.

"In the end we'll have the ability to do science from orbit to the core," Stock said.

"When you can put space scientists, earth scientists, geologists and water chemistry people all together, I think they'll get a lot of great science done," said USGS graduate student volunteer Joseph Murray.

Still researchers are sentimental about leaving behind the campus that's been home since 1954.
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