California Communities Will Receive Brownfields Assessment and Cleanup Grants to Help Build A Better America While Advancing Environmental Justice
SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing a $6,321,123 million investment in California to revitalize communities across the state by cleaning up contaminated and blighted properties and redeveloping them for productive reuse. Nine California communities have been selected to receive over $4.3 million in EPA Brownfields Assessment and Cleanup grants, and two high-performing Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund programs will receive $2 million to expand their work. The grants are supported by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides a total of $1.5 billion to advance environmental justice, spur economic revitalization, and create jobs by cleaning up so called “brownfield” properties — contaminated, polluted, or hazardous sites slated for revitalization through a specialized EPA program.
“Today’s announcement breathes new life into California communities by turning contaminated properties into economically productive community resources,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “Thanks to the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, EPA is significantly increasing our investments in California communities, providing assistance to areas long overburdened and underserved.”
“I am pleased to see nine projects across California receive Brownfields grants from the Environmental Protection Agency,” said United States Senator Alex Padilla. “These grants will build capacity in local communities to advance sustainable projects that clean up and redevelop some of their most contaminated properties. This funding will help revitalize long vacant or contaminated sites, making our neighborhoods cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous.”
EPA’s Brownfields Program also delivers on the Biden Administration’s Justice40 Initiative, which directs at least 40 percent of the overall benefits from federal investments in climate and clean energy to disadvantaged communities. EPA is committed to meeting and exceeding this goal. Approximately 86 percent of the communities selected to receive funding as part of today’s national announcement will support historically underserved areas.
EPA’s funding supports California communities’ efforts to address the economic, social, and environmental challenges caused by brownfields by stimulating economic opportunity and environmental revitalization. Projects range from cleaning up former lumber mill sites to assessing downtown properties for affordable housing and commercial reuse.
Two communities are selected to receive nearly $900,000 to clean up former lumber mill sites, both projects building on former EPA investments. The City of Arcata is selected to receive $369,783 for cleanup at the Little Lake Industries Mill facility, providing both economic reinvestment in this light industrial area and ecological benefits to waterways that drain to Humboldt Bay. The Sierra Institute for Community and Environment is selected to receive a $500,000 Brownfields Cleanup grant to continue cleanup of properties at the Crescent Mills Former Louisiana Pacific Mill facility. This project supports redevelopment of the property into an operation which will generate value-added wood products out of low-value woody material, with benefits accruing to forest restoration and fire risk reduction efforts.
Seven communities are selected to receive over $3.4 million for the identification, assessment, and cleanup and redevelopment planning of brownfield properties, as well as community engagement. They are:
The San Diego State University Research Foundation is selected to receive $500,000 to work with National City to focus on a 158-acre district at the city’s core identified as the Downtown Specific Plan Area. Priority properties include a former education center, a vacant lot in a former industrial neighborhood, and a former welding shop. The project will support new housing and commercial development close to transit.
The City of South Gate is selected to receive $500,000 to focus on the Gateway District, Tweedy Boulevard Corridor, and Hollydale Village neighborhoods. Priority properties include a 3-acre former shipping and distribution center, the former Mondo Chrome facility, and an 88-acre former General Motors assembly plant. This project will support new mixed-use transit-oriented development and new affordable housing.
The City of Bakersfield is selected to receive $500,000 to focus on the city’s downtown area. Priority properties include a 17-acre former corporate headquarters and several vacant and infill development sites. This project will support new affordable housing and transitional housing for residents experiencing homelessness.
The Fresno Metropolitan Ministry is selected to receive $500,000 to focus on the Blackstone Avenue Corridor, the city’s primary commercial corridor. Priority properties are located in the southernmost portion of the corridor, an area that has experienced substantial disinvestment resulting in many vacant, abandoned, and underused properties. This project will support a mix of housing, retail, office, and active public spaces in a pedestrian/”complete street”‐oriented environment.
The Spanish-Speaking Unity Council of Alameda County, Inc., a neighborhood-based social equity development corporation, is selected to receive $451,340 to focus on several neighborhoods in East Oakland. Priority properties include an 8,000-square-foot mixed-use building, a 13,000-square-foot vacant lot, and three large residential buildings. This project will support development and preservation of affordable housing.
The City of Grass Valley is selected to receive $500,000 to focus on the city’s South Auburn Street and Bennett Street Corridors and the Southern Grass Valley Sphere of Influence/Annexation Areas. Priority sites are several mine-scarred properties adjacent to residential communities. This project will support the long-term development of housing, parks and recreation, community space, sustainable “fork-to-table” programs and economic development.
The City of Tulelake is selected to receive $500,000 to focus on Tulelake’s Downtown area, with priority properties including the historic Marcha Theater and the Old Tulelake Hardware and Sporting Goods Store. This project will support the redevelopment and revitalization of community-serving institutions, such as a cultural/entertainment center and professional/medical building.
Two high-performing Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Funds are also selected to receive funding to expand their existing programs. The City of Fresno is selected to receive $1 million to focus on cleanup of downtown properties contaminated with hazardous building materials. Humboldt County is selected to receive $1 million to fund cleanup of brownfield properties throughout the county, particularly those impacted by former timber and rail operations.
A full list of the applicants selected for funding is available here: Brownfields Applicants Selected.
Since its inception in 1995, EPA’s investments in brownfield sites have leveraged more than $35 billion in cleanup and redevelopment. This has led to significant benefits for communities across the country. For example:
- To date, this funding has led to more than 183,000 jobs in cleanup, construction, and redevelopment.
- Based on grant recipient reporting, recipients leveraged an average $20.43 for each EPA Brownfields dollar and 10.3 jobs per $100,000 of EPA Brownfield Grant funds expended on assessment, cleanup, and revolving loan fund cooperative agreements.
- In addition, an academic peer-reviewed study has found that residential properties near brownfield sites increased in value by 5% to 15% because of cleanup activities.
- Finally, analyzing data near 48 brownfields, EPA found an estimated $29 million to $97 million in additional tax revenue for local governments in a single year after cleanup—2 to 7 times more than the $12.4 million EPA contributed to the cleanup of those brownfield sites.
For more on Brownfields Grants: Types-brownfields-grant-funding.
For more on EPA’s Brownfields Program: Brownfields Program.