California Redevelopment Agencies

Earlier this week, the Governor signed two trailer bills, ABX1 26 and ABX1 27 that essentially eliminated the State of California’s various redevelopment agencies (RDAs). The RDAs are are to be shut down permanently on October 1, 2011 unless the various government agencies that established the RDAs agree to reduced funding. This is expected to be challenged in court by the California Redevelopment Association and the League of California Cities on the grounds that these two trailer bills violate the State Constitution and Proposition 22.

My personal opinion, aside from the fact that I do some work that is paid out of RDAs, is that the redevelopment agencies have done a tremendous amount of good for the various cities and local agencies that utilize them throughout the state. Numerous blighted properties have been taken over, cleaned up, and returned to beneficial use. These uses include community benefits such as parks and public spaces, and as tax revenue generating commercial properties. This is still my opinion, but this is a major mistake and will lead to unchecked blight in neighborhoods and will slow the economic recovery even further.

Brownfield Funds Available

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced that $1.4 million is being awarded for cleanup efforts at contaminated California sites known as brownfields. Both the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and City of Sacramento were chosen to receive the grant funds. A brownfield is a parcel of land where hazardous substances or pollutants are a barrier to its successful redevelopment or reuse.

The DTSC will receive $1 million of the grant and the City of Sacramento will receive $400,000 for redevelopment of blighted commercial property within the city.

Orphaned Site Cleanup Fund

The Underground Storage Tank (UST) Orphan Site Cleanup Fund Program (OSCF) administered by the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) through the federal stimulus program, the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (The Stimulus Package) is now accepting applications from eligible applicants that meet established requirements and are ready to move forward with cleanup activities. The RWQCB will accept pplications for the OSCF program on an on-going basis. The SWRCB has provided a Downloadable OSCF application.

OSCF Application

Program Information

Additional Program Information

Economic Stimulus Package

The U.S. House of Representative’s version of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the economic stimulus plan includes A number of programs directed toward the redevelopment of Brownfield sites.  The specific direction of these funds includes:

• Superfund Hazardous Waste Cleanup: $800 million to clean up hazardous and toxic waste sites that threaten health and the environment. EPA has 1,255 sites on its National Priority List, selected based on a hazard ranking system. There are many Superfund sites ready for construction, but not funded due to budget shortfalls and over 600 sites with ongoing construction that could be accelerated.

• Leaking Underground Storage Tanks: $200 million for enforcement and cleanup of petroleum leaks from underground storage tanks at approximately 1,600 additional sites. There are an estimated 116,000 sites with the potential to contaminate important water supplies.

• Closed Military Bases: $300 million for cleanup activities at closed military installations allowing local communities to redevelop these properties for productive use. The Department estimates that there is a $3.5 billion environmental cleanup backlog at bases closed during previous BRAC rounds.

• Brownfields: $100 million for competitive grants for evaluation and cleanup of former industrial and commercial sites – turning them from problem properties to productive community use. Last year EPA was only able to fund 37% of Brownfields applications.

Federal, state and Local programs are already in place to receive these funds and have been lacking funding for some time now.  I would expect that the revitalization of these programs and this influx of funding will go a long way to making many redevelopment projects on impacted properties pencil out a lot more often.   These programs could also help alleviate some of the funding issues associated with obtaining a loan on impacted or Brownfield properties, whether that loan is for a purchase, a bridge loan, or a construction loan.

Additionally, a “Buy American” policy requires that iron and steel used in construction and repair projects funded under the bill be produced in the United States unless found to be prohibitively expensive.

Tesla Motors Will Use a Brownfield Site for Their New Plant

It appears as though Tesla Motors will be shopping for a brownfield site with an existing building for thier new Model S sedan plant.  The electric automaker had formerly planned to use a vacant property in Silicon Valley for the plant, but with the cost of construction rising, the demand for vehicles falling, and the availability of Department of Energy funding for the purpose of brownfield revitalization; they are moving in a whole new direction.

Tesla Abandons Plan for Calif. Plant

Electric car maker will look for a new site after failing to secure loan.

Tesla has scrapped plans to build an electric car plant in Silicon Valley, saying Jan. 31 that it will opt for an abandoned factory elsewhere in order to win a low-cost federal loan.

Tesla announced in October that the dismal economy had effectively slammed the door on its hope of getting $100 million in venture capital money to build a Model S sedan plant in San Jose.

Construction of the factory, about 20 minutes from Tesla’s headquarters in San Carlos, Calif. was scheduled to begin in mid-2009.

Tesla had picked an 89-acre lot on which to build a 500,000-square-foot plant to pump out four-door, all-electric sedans.

It would have been the first time the vacant lot was used for heavy industry.

Tesla is competing with other car makers for low-interest loan money the U.S. Department of Energy has available to fund development of “brownfield” sites, factories or plants no longer in use.

Tesla wants a $250 million loan to build a sedan plant.

“We cannot do anything that may jeopardize securing the federal loan,” said Tesla senior communications manager Rachel Konrad. “That’s one of the reasons we are now planning to develop on a brownfield site instead of the greenfield site in San Jose.”

Tesla is in “late-stage” negotiations with another site for its Model S sedan plant and expects to begin production in 2011 as originally planned, according to Konrad.

Tesla says that in March it will unveil a Model S car its Hawthorne, Calif., design studio.

The Model S car is a five-passenger sedan run by a lithium-ion battery pack that is expected to power the car for about 240 miles  per charge. The car has an estimated price of $60,000.Copyright, Agence France-Presse

Feb. 2, 2009

City of San Bernardino Economic Development Agency Awarded $400,000 EPA Brownfields Grant

The Economic Development Agency (EDA) of the City of San Bernardino has been awarded $400,000 in grant funding from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop an inventory of potential and actual Brownfields sites contaminated by hazardous substances and/or petroleum, to conduct environmental site assessments, and to support community outreach activities.
A Brownfields site is defined as an abandoned, idle, or under-used industrial or commercial facility where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination. The goal of the EPA grant is to identify and address environmental contamination issues so that Brownfields properties can be readied for reuse and redevelopment. For the property to be eligible for remediation grant funding, there can be no financially viable responsible party connected to the
Brownfields site.
EDA is currently soliciting sites to include in this grant funded program, and is accepting public comment and site nominations for Brownfields sites within the grant’s predefined study area of the City until 4:00 p.m. Friday, September 12, 2008. The study area of the City is bounded on the North by 9th Street, on the West by Pepper Street, on the South by Mill Street, and on the East by Tippecanoe Avenue (see map).

A public meeting to present the work plan and receive public comment and site nominations is scheduled for Monday, July 28, 2008 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Economic Development Agency Board Room.

Public Meeting:
Date: Monday, July 28, 2008
Time: 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Where: Economic Development Agency of the City of San Bernardino
EDA Board Room
201 North “E” St., Suite 301
San Bernardino, CA 92401

Another way to comment on the grant work plan and/or to nominate potential
Brownfields sites is to contact:
Kathleen Robles, Project Manager at:

Economic Development Agency of the City of San Bernardino
201 North “E” St., Suite 301
San Bernardino, CA 92401
Phone: 909-663-1044
Fax: 909-888-9413

Comments/nominations are to be received by 4:00 p.m., Friday, September 12, 2008.

New Groundwater Incentive Program

The Sate Water Resources Control Board has launched a new program to provide low-interest loans for projects that benefit the State of California and local entities.

The specific types of projects that the program will support include:

  • Construction of wastewater treatment and water recycling facilites;
  • Implementation of nonpoint source projects and programs;
  • Development and implementation of estuary comprehensive conservation and management plans; and
  • Storm water treatment projects.

The SWRCB will be holding workshops at four different locations throughout California during the month of Januay.

More information can be found on the attached flyer: SWRCB Flyer