Blog: What is Land Recycling?
The Center for Creative Land Recycling (CCLR) is a national nonprofit founded in 1996 by the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit land conservation organization. CCLR’s mission is to help communities transform by sustainably and equitably restoring underutilized properties to productive reuse. We recently invited Brisbane residents to hear and engage with CCLR’s Executive Director, Sarah Sieloff, on “Land Recycling 101” presentation and discussion. Here’s what we learned!
What is land recycling?
Land recycling is the act of re-using abandoned, vacant or underused properties. A subset of land recycling is infill development, or development that takes place within an existing community and leverages the available transit, water, sewage, electrical and other infrastructure.
What is brownfield, and what are the benefits of its
Many areas across the country that were once used for industrial and commercial purposes now sit abandoned or underutilized, and are prime candidates for land recycling. Some of these properties are contaminated, while some have never been tested but are assumed to have environmental problems. These properties are brownfields defined by the U.S. EPA as “real properties, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.” Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment.
How is site-specific remediation managed?
Remediation is guided by robust regulatory oversight at the state level. Regulatory agencies provide comments when site-specific project files are submitted. Among remediated sites, CCLR is not aware of known adverse health or environmental impacts.
How does site cleanup occur?
There’s two general categories of regulatory involvement: (1 ) Emergency or state-directed i.e. a Superfund site, which are the nation’s most contaminated land, and include environmental emergencies, oil spills and natural disasters (the Baylands is not a Superfund site) and (2) Non-emergency: Interim cleanup or Voluntary cleanup (the Baylands is in this category)
What are some cleanup standards?
Some tools include Engineering Controls which include podium design to close pathways from ground to living areas; capping the contaminated soil or fencing to prevent access; and venting systems to disperse vapors. Institutional Controls, on the other hand, are government tools such as deed restrictions, which include an inspection schedule.
Ms. Sieloff presented several case studies, including one of a residential project in Emeryville over 40 years old, long before regulations were in place.