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Policy Info: Brownfield Hazardous Substance Cleanup (AB 440)

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Brownfield Hazardous Substance Cleanup AB 440 helps cities, counties, and housing authorities clean up brownfield sites. As one of The Reynolds Group’s specialty, this legislation was widely used by RDAs to clean up brownfield sites and restore them to their economic capability.

Background

The Polanco Act has been used by Redevelopment agencies (RDAs) to clean up and develop sites burdened with environmental contamination. The Act allowed RDAs to access a property to assess the environmental contamination and then develop a cleanup plan in coordination with the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) or the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB).

If the responsible party failed to clean up the site, the RDA could elect to clean up the property through the DTSC or RWQCB approved plan. Upon completion, the RDA could then sue the responsible party for the cleanup cost. Ownership of the property by the RDA was not a requirement. In addition, the act gave immunity from liability to RDAs and subsequent property owners of sites cleaned up under the approved plan.

The Act has also aided developers and RDAs to secure financing for a known risk bearing contaminated property.

What Does AB 440 Do?

The RDAs have been dissolved for several years now with no clear successor to the Polanco Act authority in sight. AB 440 essentially renews the Polanco Act by granting the powers described above to cities, counties, and successor housing agencies.

Furthermore, the Polanco Act was restricted to contaminated sites within the redevelopment project areas. This bill lifts that restriction and allows cities, counties, and successor housing agencies to use the Polanco Act anywhere within their jurisdiction.