Governor Jerry Brown passes bill that renews the Polanco Redevelopment Act* to give local government the ability to clean up and develop sites that suffer from environmental contamination.
Earlier this month, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 440 (Gatto), a bill authorizing local agencies to exercise the Polanco environmental remediation powers previously enjoyed by redevelopment agencies (RDAs) prior to their termination in 2012.
Unlike RDAs which were empowered to use eminent domain powers to take control of blighted areas, under the new law, local agencies have a right of entry to such properties. However, such power extends to all blighted property within the purview of the local agencies and is not limited to the former redevelopment areas, which gives the local agencies broader jurisdictional authority. The new legislation becomes effective January 1, 2014 and will be codified as Health and Safety Code Section 25403.
AB 440 represents a significant step in regaining certain abilities that were eliminated with California redevelopment agencies. A void developed with regard to a local agency’s ability to undertake any sort of brownfield redevelopment, because the tools required to clean-up the properties had been taken away.
Thanks to AB 440, local agencies now have the tools that lay the groundwork for private sector investment. The new law gives local agencies the right to:
i) obtain environmental information from property owners,
ii) compel cleanup of blighted property and;
iii) recover the full costs of remediation from the polluter.
Importantly, the law immunizes local agencies, subsequent owners of the property, and their lenders from environmental liability arising from previously existing contamination after the completion and approval of remediation actions undertaken under the new law.
AB 440 gives us hope that property thought to be destined for quarantined, can be remediated and put back into the marketplace in a positive way.
*The Polanco Redevelopment Act (California Health & Safety Code, §§ 33459 eq seq.) gave California redevelopment agencies the power to clean up environmentally polluted properties, restoring them to productive use.
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