A bill that specifies guidelines for the development of environmentally impacted sites in California was signed into law last week. The bill aims to give developers incentive to clean up urban properties, called brownfields, and put them back into use.

Uncertainty over potential cleanup costs often gives builders less incentive to build on brownfields. The California Land Reuse and Revitalization Act of 2004 gives new guarantees that developers won’t be pressured to clean properties after they’ve already been cleaned to state standards. The liability protection does not extend to additional contamination discovered after the agreement is reached.

“Previously, developers had to negotiate with agencies on a project-by-project basis to get the liability protections they needed, and those protections were often quite limited,” said Shiraz Tangri, an environmental attorney with Los Angeles-based Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman Machtinger and Kinsella, LLP. “Now that the state has codified the terms and conditions for redevelopment of these contaminated sites, developers will have a better understanding of the financial and legal risks going in to a proposed transaction.” 

According to reports, there are approximately 1,200 brownfield sites in California. The new statute generally applies to redevelopment of sites in urban infill areas impacted by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance.

“The new law is not a total avoidance of governmental liability, but a trade-off that grants certain liability protections to a developer who signs an agreement to assess and clean up the site,” Tangri said. “Developers should feel more comfortable going forward knowing the limits of their liability once they fulfill their commitment to the state.”


Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to jessica@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 133.

Show Comments Hide Comments


Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription