Assemblymember Mike Gatto’s bill to protect communities from contaminated property passes assembly.
The bill has already received enthusiastic support from business organizations, environmental advocates, and local governments like the California League of Cities and the City of Burbank. Sacramento, CA – Communities struggling with decaying and contaminated properties will have new tools available to revitalize these sites now that Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s AB 440 has cleared the Assembly with a bipartisan vote of 75-1. Changes to state law made in 2011 made it unclear whether local governments could clean up contaminated properties and sue the party responsible for the contamination. Gatto’s bill restores these powers by transferring the legal authority to local governments. The bill will also protect taxpayers and subsequent purchasers from liability for unanticipated contamination found on a site, giving developers the certainty to pursue financing for what would otherwise be considered risky investments.
“With this bill, the state is giving local governments the tools they need to clean up contaminated areas, limit their liability, and pursue new economic opportunities,” said Gatto. “Holding businesses and individuals liable for the pollution of prior property owners is unfair and does nothing to encourage job creation, or investment in our communities.”
AB 440 has inspired a rare showing of bipartisan and cross-sector unity, with organized labor, business organizations, local governments, and environmental advocates each expressing support. The City of Burbank applauded AB 440 for ensuring that “local agencies have continued access to a Brownfields remediation tool that has proven so valuable in the past.”
“Rehabilitation of communities is good for our neighborhoods, good for the environment, and an efficient use of taxpayer dollars,” said Gatto. “By extending greater authority to local governments, we can clean and recycle contaminated property and bring jobs and housing to where people need it most.” The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.