Types of Brownfields Projects

The Citywide Brownfields Program (Program) divides brownfields projects into several types, using factors such as: former use of the property, intended new use of the property, number of parcels involved, and urgency of clean-up efforts. These types often overlap, and many projects fit into more than one category.

For instance, many parcels may have originally been identified as part of an Area Wide Assessment, and become an individual, parcel-specific project because an owner or prospective buyer decides to move ahead with development when the Program identifies a possible funding source for their brownfield site. Or parcels may have several types of contamination because of multiple types of historic uses (i.e., petroleum products from a gas station on-site, and solvents from historic use as a dry cleaning establishment), or may even be affected by contamination which originated off site (i.e., a nearby landfill or underground storage tank) but which has migrated into soil or groundwater beneath the site. Each project is unique, and may have features which do not fit entirely within the category in which it is listed.

The Program can provide varying types of assistance, depending on individual project requirements, and on project eligibility for specific resources. Some owners come to us for guidance through City, State and Federal regulatory and permitting requirements, and help identifying appropriate funding sources. The Program also receives grants from State and Federal sources for brownfields investigation and clean-up, in order to revitalize disadvantaged neighborhoods.

These grants can be used to pay for Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs). A Phase I ESA searches historical records of land uses on the site and nearby sites to determine the likelihood that a particular property may be contaminated. If the property is determined to have a high likelihood of contamination, a Phase II ESA may be performed. A Phase II ESA tests soil and water beneath the site to determine the actual presence or absense, and the extent, of contamination.

Below are descriptions of the types of brownfields projects the Program assists. Current, on-going projects are listed under the type of project in which they best fit. Please click on the links below to read about what’s happening right now. Completed projects are listed under the Success Stories pages – please take a look there for some of the many Program projects which have been returned to their communities for enjoyment as parks and recreation areas, or cleared for economic redevelopment and revitalization!

On Call Technical Assistance Sites

On Call 400

The purpose of on-call technical assistance is to determine preliminary site conditions and issues, current regulatory standing, and possible approaches for addressing the probable brownfields issues on specific sites. The Program offers staff expertise, legal and engineering technical assistance, and outside expert consultant resources to assist City Council, Mayor’s Office and City departments as well as non-profit organizations and private property owners.


Area-wide Site Assessments

area wide site assess 400The Program has been awarded several US EPA grants to conduct site inventories to identify brownfields sites in specific neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are considered a priority for redevelopment due to having a higher percentage of vacant, abandoned, and/or nuisance parcels, combined with having fewer economic resources to redevelop these problem sites. These projects include conducting Phase I and Phase II environmental site assessments for some sites. 

As part of the area-wide assessments, smaller parcel-sized site-specific projects are often identified and investigated, and some of these may be remediated if necessary. These smaller parcel-sized projects are listed in the category the individual project best fits into.


Economic Development Sites

Brownfield Types Economic 400Economic Development Sites are larger multi-acre sites which historically contained industrial facilities and manufactories. Many of which are now potentially contaminated and vacant Development of these sites generates jobs and boosts economy. 


Park Sites  

Brownfield Types Park 400The City of Los Angeles has made the creation of open space a priority because it provides citizens with opportunities for recreation and interaction and noticeably improves the environment. These projects can help to meet the region's open space needs and provide important greening-linkages to existing natural amenities, such as the Los Angeles River, and to transportation corridors, such as bus and light rail stops, freeways, bikeways and hiking trails. The Program works collaboratively with the Department of Recreation and Parks and other City, departments to identify and obtain funds to address contamination at existing parks sites to develop new parks on former brownfields sites, including former gas stations and landfills.


Former Landfill Sites

Brownfield type landfill 400 Former landfills present particular brownfield challenges, including the need for long-term, on-going monitoring of groundwater, and long-term (30 years or more) venting of methane gas produced as the underground waste decays. New laws and regulations put in place since many of these landfills were closed restrict new development of these sites due to gas production and ground surface settling, and many were not required to keep the kinds of extensive records that would be required today to help identify future issues with possible redevelopment. The Program works closely with the City's Local Enforcement Agency to manage such issues when former landfill sites become available for redevelopment.


Former Gas Stations

Brownfield Types gas 400The City has many former gas station sites that are abandoned, vacant or economically underutilized. Usually a contributing factor is the presence of Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) formerly used to store gasoline and vehicle lubrication. State law required that these tanks be upgraded or removed by 1998. Former gas stations may now be vacant for a variety of reasons including: the owner cannot afford the cost of removing USTs or the contamination they may have caused, the owner fears discovery of contamination that they will then have to remove, or owners have decided it is in their best interest to do nothing at this time. Some of these gas stations may even have closed and been abandoned years before the new state laws were passed, when USTs were not required to be removed.

The presence of USTs is a barrier to most re-use transactions due to regulatory and financial uncertainty. Therefore, former gas station sites, even if currently being utilized for other types of economic activity can become a neighborhood nuisance in the future if USTs are not removed and possible contamination addressed. The Program goal is to inform owners of the programs that are available to help cover the costs of removing USTs and contamination, facilitate removal of USTs, assist owners in addressing contamination, and help identify appropriate redevelopment uses for these sites.

For more information please see our GAS STATION GUIDE 

Emergency Sites

Brownfield Types emergency 400The Program is available to assist City agencies when emergencies arise that involve contaminated properties. There may be cases when the public brings contamination issue to the attention of the City which needs to respond quickly to address community concerns.


Miscellaneous Sites

Brownfield Types Misc 400These projects may span several categories, or not fit into any of the other categories. Often they are one site-specific element of a larger Area-Wide Assessment or Economic Development Projects.



For more information on the Citywide Brownfields Program please contact:
sanBrownfieldsLA@lacity.org or LASAN Solid Resources Citywide Recycling Division at (213) 485-2260.