Smart Area-Wide Planning: A comprehensive City-wide plan enabled regulators to focus on the most-contaminated sites and minimized liability for new owners.
The City of Emeryville was created by industrialists in the late 1800s who wanted to avoid the taxes and regulations of Oakland and Berkeley. The city was home to paint manufacturers, heavy equipment makers, and scrap yards. Today, Emeryville has transformed itself from an industrial and manufacturing community to one featuring mixed-used, commercial and residential uses.
The City strategically used U.S. EPA brownfield grants to characterize and assess their environmental concerns on an area-wide basis. This led to their area-wide plan approach to groundwater and soil issues, enabling the state regulators to shift their attention to the most contaminated sites and allowing the City to assume regulatory authority for low-risk sites. This was accomplished via completion of a memorandum of agreement by which the City essentially gained authority to process environmental sign-off for soil and groundwater investigation and cleanup. Interested parties were provided with simple “look-up” tables for cleanup numbers and pre-approved procedures for mitigation of soil problems.
The City is now home to Pixar Animation Studios, a new regional Amtrak station, and thousands of new biotech and cleantech jobs.