Facilitating Infill & Residential Development Workshop
On Monday November 27th, the Center for Creative Land Recycling or CCLR organized a workshop in Redwood City that tackled how local governments can work together to streamline environmental assessments, clean up and redevelopments of residential projects. CCLR opened the workshop introducing the organization and explaining what a brownfield is exactly. CCLR is the only national nonprofit dedicated to sustainable infill redevelopment, a type of development that invests in vacant or under-used land within existing urban areas and communities which, for various reasons, have been passed over in the normal course of urbanization. CCLR provides services such as workshops, technical assistance, policy and research and consulting. CCLR’s expertise is in cleaning up and redeveloping vacant or contaminated site called “brown fields” and focuses on land recycling, the reuse of any property deemed abandoned, vacant, or underused, for redevelopment using federal, state and local tools to revitalize blighted areas.
Ignacio Dayritt of CCLR pointed out in a map of San Mateo County (see above) that most PDAs, or Priority Development Areas, are aligned with brownfield sites, developable areas that have or are suspected to have contamination. Given the lack of available land close to existing infrastructure, these PDAs are especially critical in addressing the severe housing shortage. The Baylands site is a designated PDA, one of the few places identified by Bay Area communities as areas for investment, new homes and job growth and the foundation for sustainable regional growth.
After introductions and some opening remarks from San Mateo County representatives that underscored the importance of infill development during the housing crisis, the workshop transitioned to a diverse panel discussion. The panel included representatives from the public sector, legal, private and nonprofit development, and regulatory agency for environmental cleanups. The speakers shared their stories on the complication and high-risk involved in developing a brownfield site, but also emphasized the need for these types of developments in the Bay Area, and the many benefits that come with brownfield redevelopment: direct generation of local tax revenue, water quality improvement, neighborhood revitalization and property value increase.
Other topics from the discussion included the various tools available to communities such as free assessments for certain projects, given the importance of early characterization of the site, as well as risk management systems to ensure the safety of those occupying the site, such as ongoing monitoring and institutional controls. If interested in learning more about CCLR and their efforts visit www.cclr.org