Golden Gate University Law Review


In order to meet the challenges posed by significant increases in population, the recycling of brownfields is essential. Recycling brownfields can also promote infill development which will, in turn, optimize population densities and can serve to reduce negative aspects of sprawl. Infill development can revitalize existing communities as idle or underutilized properties in urban centers will be used for residential, commercial and public purposes (schools, parks, hospitals). However, there exists a delicate balance in California, where urban density has increased, there is increased competition for buildable sites, particularly for public facilities, i.e., schools. The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) developed a number of early initiatives to address brownfields problems, and, where available, complemented them with other related State mechanisms. Both legislative and administrative reforms were the cornerstones of these early tools. Additionally, DTSC views all types of cleanup projects as a potential reuse opportunity and seeks to work cooperatively with parties to meet this objective while ensuring that cleanups are conducted in an environmentally sound manner. This article will examine the origins of DTSC's brownfields programs, highlight key new programs enacted or proposed under the Administration of California's Governor Gray Davis (Davis Administration) and examine emerging brownfields issues for the State. This article presents an analysis which is in large part based on the authors' direct observations, interactions and interpretations.