U.S. EPA announces $1.1 million in Brownfields grants to promote economic redevelopment in Los Angeles

EPA, LASAN, BOE, LA River, Taylor Yard

On June 5th, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Director for the Land, Chemicals, and Redevelopment Division for the Pacific Southwest Jeff Scott announced that the City of Los Angeles and the National Council for Community Development have been selected to receive $1.1 million in EPA Brownfields funding through our Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup (MAC) Grant Programs. The grants are part of the $64,623,553 million awarded nationally to 149 communities. EPA Brownfield funds aid economically disadvantaged communities in Opportunity Zones and other communities throughout the country, to assess and clean up abandoned industrial and commercial properties.

“A revitalized LA River is an integral part of LA’s Green New Deal,” said City of Los Angeles Board of Public Works President Kevin James. “New parks and expanded recreational opportunities along the river will improve the quality of life of all residents and visitors alike, and in partnership with the EPA, we can ensure that the LA River of the future will be cleaner and greener.”
 
“We thank the EPA for investing in LA Sanitation & Environment, and for entrusting us with this important work,” said LA Sanitation and Environment General Manager and Executive Director Enrique C. Zaldivar. “This project will bring about improved water quality for the Los Angeles River and our other watersheds, as well as enhance our biodiversity.”
 
The City of Los Angeles will receive $500,000 to clean up the Taylor Yard River Park brownfields site, which is located in an Opportunity Zone. The site, encompassing 12.5 acres within a 42-acre former railyard property, was first developed and used as a railyard in the 1930s. The site is currently contaminated with metals, arsenic, and volatile and semi‐volatile organic compounds. As part of the redevelopment of the site into green space, solar-powered LED lighting will be installed along trails and in parking areas. The city has secured several sources of funding, including a $2 million State Coastal Conservancy grant and $6,952,770 in proceeds from the sale of a multipurpose easement for the site to a conservation authority. In addition, the city is in the final steps of approving $1,035,000 in Capital Improvement Expenditure Program funds to support assessment, remediation, and redevelopment of the site.

Background
A brownfield is a property for which the expansion, redevelopment or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant. There are estimated to be more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S. As of May 2019, under the EPA Brownfields Program 30,153 properties have been assessed, and 86,131 acres of idle land have been made ready for productive use. In addition, communities have been able to use Brownfields grants to leverage 150,120 jobs and more than $28 billion of public and private funding.
 
In 2018 Congress reauthorized the statutory authority for the Brownfields Program. The reauthorization included changes to the program to expand the list of entities eligible for Brownfields grants, increase the limit of individual Brownfields cleanup grants to $500,000, and add grant authority for Multipurpose grants. These important changes will help communities address and cleanup more complex brownfield sites.
 
The 2019 National Brownfields Training Conference will be held on December 11-13 in Los Angeles, California. Offered every two years, this conference is the largest gathering of stakeholders focused on cleaning up and reusing formerly utilized commercial and industrial properties. EPA cosponsors this event with the International City/County Management Association.