Brownfields Success Sites
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Alameda Street Widening
Two Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESA) were conducted in January 2014 at the site, located between Anaheim Street and Harry Bridges Blvd for southern and northern sections. The assessments counted historical oil wells that were advanced sufficiently near the alignment to result in potential environmental impairments.
At least three sets of oil collection tanks were located sufficiently near the alignment to be recognized environmental conditions. Emissions or seeps resulting from incomplete abandonment may also occur at these former well locations. The earliest historical land use documentation from 1913 shows the presence of rail lines, accompanied near Anaheim Street by a parallel main rail line. Potential contaminants of concern include Crude oil and various types of refined petroleum products, metals from older drilling muds and oil field brines, asbestos.
The proposed project is to widening Alameda Street, and provide additional northbound and southbound through-lanes and to provide a northbound free right-turn lane from northbound Alameda Street to eastbound Anaheim Street. The strip of property is 30 feet wide and approximately 3,700 feet long. Based on the results of this Phase I ESA, additional soil, soil vapor and groundwater sampling is recommended along the alignment to verify the extent of known impacts. Widening Alameda St. between Anaheim St. to Harry Bridges will improve traffic from 4 to 6 lanes, facilitating general goods movement within the community and Los Angeles basin and more importantly directly to the Port of Los Angeles.
Humboldt Greenway Project
As part of the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan, a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) was conducted in April of 2012 for the property located at 216 N Avenue 18 (Humboldt Street) in an older industrial area, under the LA River USEPA Assessment Grant.
Previous geotechnical investigations have detected the presence of railroad ballast, and possibly railroad tracks and ties at the site, due to the storage of railroad equipment and supplies belonging to the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) on the site.
Construction of the Humboldt River Greenway Project started in late 2012. A redevelopment project was established to take runoff from a 135-acre sub watershed through a storm drain beneath Humboldt Street, and allow stormwater to run through landscape features that will clean it of oils, bacteria, trash and other pollutants before flowing out to the Los Angeles River. The stormwater elements are complemented by native vegetation, trees, and an irrigation system. Recreational features such as solar lights, pedestrian bridges, drinking fountains, and a bike stop are also part of the project.
The City of Los Angeles Brownfields Program has received a $500,000 sub grant from EPA to complete remediation at Albion Park.
The project site was originally a Swiss Dairy distribution facility. Swiss Dairy vacated and turned the site over to the City. The relatively flat property is located in central Los Angeles at 1739 Albion Street. Union Pacific Railroad tracks borders the site on the west end in a 20-foot wide strip. Directly west of the train tracks is the channelized Los Angeles River.
Prior to purchase of the property, the City conducted environmental assessments to identify hazardous materials on site that require remediation. The site has previously been used as a brewery, a warehouse, a junk yard, a metal pipe factory, and an automobile repair facility. It is known that vehicle fuels were used on-site & may have been spilled, resulting in soil & groundwater contamination.
Soil testing during demolition of the facility revealed higher levels of contamination than anticipated, showing a wide presence of lead, petroleum hydrocarbons, and semi-volatile organic compounds in excess of allowable concentrations for recreational developments. Some of this unforeseen contamination was within the building footprints of an operational dairy processing facility.
Remediation activities were performed and contaminated materials removed and properly disposed off the site between the months of April-June 2013 to leave the property in a healthy, clean and graded level.
The site is identified in the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan as a site for a river park and recreational facility. Amenities will likely include pedestrian paths, continuation of the LA River bike path, and educational uses. A multi-use public plaza is planned to showcase the water quality benefits of permeable surfaces, which may allow for infiltration of urban runoff and provide education value. The park aspect will be completed on 12/31/2018.
The Partnership created an inventory of abandoned gas station sites within the I-710 Corridor that were vacant or had limited uses. Many sites required further environmental assessment including tank removal or cleanup activities that could be conducted. Several sites were selected in the City of Los Angeles based on the Brownfields Program recommendations. EPA’s Targeted Brownfields Assessment (TBA) Program and other federal funds were used to complete site assessments including tank removals. In addition to paving the road toward clean-up and redevelopment, I-710 Project’s effort helped identify potential threats to human health in the communities.
Remediation Sites in Los Angeles
6121 S Vermont Ave - Former Target Service Station
Historically, a gas station occupied the site from 1963 until the mid 1990s. Four (4) Underground Storage Tanks (USTs), containing gasoline and diesel fuel, were removed from the site in 1996. In 1999, a site assessment was conducted identifying soil contamination from the former USTs, which has prevented the property owner from obtaining loans and permits needed to redevelop the property. The City of Los Angeles Brownfields Program applied for EPA Targeted Brownfield Assessments (TBA) to conduct a field investigation to evaluate the extent of contamination and to determine whether clean-up is needed. Following site investigation and cleanup activities, the owner of the property plans to redevelop the property into mixed-use retail.
5700 S Western Ave - Vacant Building The site is temporarily being used by a church. Historically this site was occupied by a service station, electronics distributor, and possibly a dry cleaning facility. The property contained one (1) gasoline UST, which was removed in 2002. Soil samples taken during the tank removal confirmed the soil had been contaminated by the former UST. The City of Los Angeles Brownfields Program applied for TBA to conduct a complete field investigation in order to evaluate the extent of contamination from the former UST and move the property one step closer to redevelopment. The current property owner has plans to redevelop the property into six (6) retail stores, pending a complete site investigation and clean-up.
6600 S Broadway - Wayne Garage This property was the site of a former gas station originating in the 1930s. It is located in a low-income neighborhood among residential and small-scale commercial properties. A junior high school is located one block away. The property was being used for vehicle storage and disposal of household scrap, creating not just an eyesore, but an environmental hazard in the neighborhood. The City of Los Angeles Brownfields Program had found vent pipes during a 2007 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment, indicating possible USTs present. The Partnership issued directive letters to the owners and tracked down the family members who inherited the property. They agreed to hire a consultant to conduct a geophysical survey, which located three USTs. On May 1, 2012, three USTs including one (1) 4,000 gallon gasoline tank, one (1) 3,000-gallon gasoline tank, and one (1) 500-gallon waste oil tank were removed. Based on soil samples that were analyzed, the consultant discovered there had been a release from leaking USTs, but it appeared to be insignificant. This case will be recommended for closure. Once closed, this property will be available for reuse.
1277 W Vernon Ave - Ortiz Jr Auto Repair This site was a former gas station and auto repair facility originated in the 1950’s. It is currently operating as an auto repair facility. In 2001, four (4) USTs were removed from the site. Currently the site is undergoing a Phase II Environmental Assessment investigation. Updates will be posted.
5975 S Main St - Vacant Property
705 W El Segundo - Former Llanteria Tires Facility
With the assistance of the I-710 Project, based on the City's Brownfields Program recommendations, these former gas station sites were spotlighted and impelled towards closure.
Wayne’s Garage Success Story
May 8, 2012 (CD9)
The Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Partnership (Partnership) in the I-710 Corridor was created to hunt down absent property owners and get them to clean up their abandoned gas station properties. The property at 6600 South Broadway in South Los Angeles was the site of a former gas station originating in the 1930s. It is located in a low-income neighborhood among residential and small-scale commercial properties. A junior high school is located one block away. The property was being used for vehicle storage and disposal of household scrap, creating not just an eyesore, but an environmental hazard in the neighborhood.
The Partnership began investigating the property based on a recommendation from the City of Los Angeles Brownfields Program, which had found vent pipes during a 2007 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment, indicating Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) may still be present. The Partnership issued directive letters to the two owners on the title of the property and found that both owners were deceased. They then tracked down the attorney handling the estate. After calls back and forth between with the attorney, one of the family members who inherited the property agreed to hire a consultant to conduct a geophysical survey, which located three USTs were present.
On May 1, 2012, the consultant removed three USTs: one 4,000 gallon gasoline tank, one 3,000-gallon gasoline tank, and one 500-gallon waste oil tank. Based on soil samples that were analyzed, the consultant discovered there had been a release, but it appeared to be insignificant. This case will be recommended for closure. Once closed, this property will be available for reuse.
South Los Angeles Wetlands Park
On April 1, 2011, Council President Pro Tempore, Jan Perry celebrated the opening of the first phase of the South Los Angeles Wetland Park at 54th St. and Avalon. The project is the result of over five years of hard work and negotiations with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) that owned the site, meetings with community stakeholders and the amassing of over $26 million dollars for site acquisition and development.
Background - This site was brought to the attention of the Brownfields Program in 2002 by Jan Perry, the Councilmember from the Ninth Council District. The nine-acre site was being used by the MTA for vehicle maintenance and storage of parts and equipment. It’s location across the street from an elementary school made it a good location for a new park. Through consultation with the community and City departments a plan was adopted to develop the site as a park and constructed wetland. The wetland park will consist of a lake, boardwalks, trails, native plants with signage and passive recreation space while it also cleans storm-water. A portion of flows from a local storm drain will be routed to the project and treated prior to discharge to the wetlands. The wetlands will provide supplemental polishing treatment of the storm-water flows so that the water can be used for irrigation and other purposes within the park or discharged to the storm drain. The park will incorporate sustainability features such as solar lighting and recycling of an existing building. Eventually, the park will also include a railroad museum and community meeting space.
Site Assessments & Funding - The Brownfields Program funded and supervised a Phase I assessment in September 26, 2002, a Preliminary Endangerment Assessment (PEA) in 2004 and a supplemental Site Assessment in 2005. The PEA was funded by a Targeted Site Investigation grant obtained from the California Department of Toxic Substances Control by the Brownfields Team. The other studies were funded by the City’s Brownfields Fund consisting of CDBG funds set aside for this purpose.
In 2009, the Brownfields Team applied for and was awarded a $200,000 US EPA Brownfields Cleanup Grant to help pay for site remediation. MTA agreed to cover the cost to remediate the site to industrial standards. The Cleanup Grant is providing funds to remediate the site to the higher standard required for a park. In 2006, the City Council approved $8.1 million in City Proposition O General Bond funding to develop the wetlands. The remainder of the funds to purchase and develop the park came from the City’s Proposition K Program, grant funding from California State Propositions 12, 40 and 50, funds from the Collection System Settlement Agreement and site cleanup credit from MTA. The park was designed by the City’s Department of Recreation and Parks in consultation with the community.
The official grand opening took place February 9, 2012. The opening marked the handing over of the park to the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. The next phase of construction will include a rail museum and community meeting space. South Los Angeles Wetland Park is also intended to assist in the city's storm water efforts for clean and healthy water by treating runoff -- the storm water that becomes polluted after it hits the streets and goes into the sewer.
Gaffey Welcome Park in San Pedro
For over ten years, a vacant, abandoned former gas station blighted the primary entrance to the community of San Pedro. This site at the terminus of the 110 freeway was unsightly, attracted illegal dumping and graffiti. There were also leaking petroleum underground storage tanks on site. Through the perseverance of Councilmember Janice Hahn, the City Redevelopment Agency and the cooperation of the City’s Department of Recreation and Parks, the gas station has been replaced by a beautiful Welcome Park.
When this site was referred to the Brownfields Program in the mid1990s, the first step was to track down the owner. It was determined that he was unlikely to redevelop the site. The Brownfields Program applied for and was awarded a U.S. EPA USTfields grant to remove underground tanks from this and another site elsewhere in the City. The USTs were removed in 2003.
Between March 2003 and January 2004, the Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative (LANI) conducted and facilitated community outreach to mobilize and empower community stakeholders and oversee the development of a community-driven conceptual plan. In September, 2007, the City’s Department of Recreation and Parks completed the welcome park that includes new landscaping, trees, paving and seating.
Lula Washington Dance Theatre on Crenshaw Blvd.
The contamination at this site occurred while the facility was used as an ambulance and vehicle repair service. When that firm went bankrupt, they could not afford to address the contamination. The Lula Washington Contemporary Dance Foundation purchased the site for a dance theatre and school. The Foundation worked with the City’s Brownfields Program to obtain funds to assess and remediate the contamination.
The Lula Washington Dance Theatre (LWDT) is a Non-Profit Arts organization that was founded in 1980 by Lula and Erwin Washington to provide a creative outlet for dance artists in Los Angeles. The foundation is made up of inter-related parts: the School, Youth Dance Ensemble and the professional dance company (Lula Washington Dance Theatre). One goal is to keep young people off the streets by giving them creative alternatives to drugs, gangs, violence and failure. Students who do not want to become professional dancers enjoy the enrichment, character development and positive benefits that come from an involvement with dance.
After the Dance Theater’s previous building was damaged in the 1993 Northridge Earthquake, Lula and Irwin Washington and their supporters worked hard to raise the money to purchase the new building at a bankruptcy sale. They felt the location and facilities were perfect and that somehow the resources would be found to deal with the contamination.
The Brownfields Program was an enthusiastic partner with the Foundation in seeking and obtaining funds for assessment and remediation of the contamination. When the Dance Theater took over the site, the vehicle repair area and an old vehicle lift were still in place. Outside in the parking lot above ground tanks were still present.
The first step was to complete Environmental Site Investigations to determine the extent and type of contamination. A Phase II Environmental Site Investigation determined levels of contamination. Hydraulic lifts, a floor drain and above ground petroleum storage tanks were removed and a soil gas monitoring system was installed. This removal method utilizes one or more machines that function similar to large vacuum cleaners, pulling gasses out of the soil. The gases are collected in canisters and removed from the site.
Project funding was provided by a combination of local, state and Federal funds. The City of Los Angeles used $30,000 from its $200,000 U.S. EPA USTfields Grant which helps cleanup leaks from underground petroleum storage tanks. The largest block of funding was a $200,000 U.S. EPA Cleanup Grant that was awarded to the Lula Washington Dance Theatre directly. In addition, the State of California provided $50,000 and the City of Los Angeles provided $50,000 from its Brownfields Fund. The environmental investigations and cleanup were performed by Converse Environmental supervised by U.S. EPA staff on loan to the City of Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA/LA).
Rockwood Park in Filipino Town
History of Site - The story of Rockwood Park starts in 2000 when complaints led to the discovery that methane and hydrogen sulfide gases were leaking into several apartment buildings. The buildings were officially found to be unsafe and all occupants had to move.
Councilmember Eric Garcetti felt it was not acceptable for such a valuable property in historic Filipino Town to sit vacant. He consulted with neighborhood residents and local organizations who agreed that the half-acre site should be developed as a park.
Contamination Information and Funding Sources - It was believed that the contamination resulted from the site being part of the historic Los Angeles oil field. This particular site had oil wells on it from approximately 1906 through at least 1970 when the apartment buildings were built. Perhaps gases were seeping up through old oil wells that were not closed properly. Since the primary threat was from gasses accumulating in the buildings, the site was fenced to keep out intruders.
Then the City began what became a lengthy negotiation with the owners of three separate properties to acquire the property. Funds were set aside from the City’s allocation of State Park Bond funds to purchase the property and construct the park. Additionally, the City’s Brownfields Program applied for and was awarded what would be the first of several U.S. EPA Brownfields grants to help pay for assessment and remediation of the site.
In 2004, the City received a $200,000 brownfields assessment grant from the U.S. EPA which paid for a Phase II Environmental Site Investigation that was carried out by contractors supervised by engineers at the City’s Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA/LA). The assessment determined that soil in specific areas contained petroleum hydrocarbons as high as 35,480 parts per million which is above California state standards. A location was identified where sewage may have been deposited and could be a source of methane gas. A former oil well was located.
No indication was found of a danger from hydrogen sulfide or methane gas. However, since this property is above a natural petroleum deposit, it could occasionally have natural seeps of crude oil or gasses. Since the site will be used as a park, the gasses will dissipate naturally and not pose a hazard. The environmental investigation recommended that the former oil well be closed and 1,600 cubic yards of soil be removed and disposed in an appropriate landfill.
In 2007 the Brownfields Program applied for and was awarded a $200,000 US EPA Brownfields Cleanup Grant for this site. When it was found that this would not cover the full costs of the cleanup, the City’s Brownfields Program obtained additional funds from another U.S. EPA program the California Brownfields Revolving Loan Fund.
Community Consultation - While the assessments and cleanup were taking place, the City’s Department of Recreation and Parks held a series of meetings with community members to create a design for the park. Rockwood Park was officially opened in May 9, 2011. Because the site is small and sloping, it was developed as a pocket park with areas for sitting or picnicking, and a play area for small children. The park incorporates sustainability features such as preserving existing trees on site, planting additional trees to mitigate heat island effect, use of solar powered night lighting, and drought tolerant landscaping.
This project is a success story for the neighborhood that will enjoy the park, the several City departments that collaborated on the project along with the California Department of Parks and Recreation and the U.S. EPA. What could have become a permanent neighborhood blight of boarded up, graffiti covered buildings and trash strewn weeds is now a community amenity that beautifies and provides badly needed family oriented outdoor space for this densely populated neighborhood.
ARTScorpsLA near Downtown Los Angeles
The City’s Brownfields Program collaborates with community organizations to help them redevelop brownfields into projects that benefit the community. This project is being undertaken by ARTScorpsLA, an artist collective that organizes community, youth and families to transform inner-city dump sites into oasis of green space through celebrations art, environmental and educational programs. ARTScorposLA also works with other community organizations to address issues such as health, tenant rights, immigration, environmental rights, domestic and gang violence.
For several years now, ARTScorpos has been developing three small adjacent brownfields properties (21,000 square feet in all) near Downtown Los Angeles. The vacant properties were a magnet for illegal dumping. Over a period of ten years, ARTScorpsLA has developed the Spiralling Orchards Park where they hold celebrations and after school and summer classes for students. Their next project will be a community center building.
They also plan to construct a low income housing project on a section of the property that has contamination issues. The entire property is located within the former Los Angeles oil field that had hundreds of oil wells until the early 1900s. The ARTScorpsLA property had three inactive oil wells and an above ground crude oil storage tank which have now been removed. The Brownfields Program has assisted by conducted Phase I and Phase II environmental investigations for this property and will continue to provide technical assistance and assist in obtaining funds for remediation.
Damson Oil Site in Venice
Before this brownfield was cleaned up, it blocked the view of the ocean from the beach front walkway. Valuable beach space on Dockweiler Beach State Park in the community of Venice was behind a wall that enclosed an abandoned oil drilling site. The City’s Department of Recreation and Parks had acquired the site for public use but lacked sufficient funds for the cleanup. The City’s Brownfields Program stepped in to provide badly needed gap funding to make the cleanup possible.
The property was acquired through a process that had provided some mitigation funds from the previous owner. The City’s Brownfields Fund provided an additional $100,000 to assist with the cost and oversight of the remediation that included property abandoning the oil wells, demolishing the structures, removing soil contaminated with metals and crude oil, completing lead and asbestos abatement, and installing groundwater monitoring wells. A private consultant performed the work under the supervision of an engineer with the City’s Community Redevelopment Agency(CRA/LA). After remediation, quarterly groundwater monitoring was overseen by the California Regional Water Quality Control Board. The site was restored as part of the adjacent beach recreation area. Later a skate park was built on a portion of the reclaimed site.
For more information on the City's Brownfields Program please contact:
Nuna.Tersibashian@lacity.org or Solid Resources Citywide Recycling Division at (213) 485-2260.