1998 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: Lizette Hernandez <lhernand@ced.berkeley.edu>
Date: 15 Apr 1998 09:28:38
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: Re: Community Participation
This is somewhat long...but points to several ideas and resources for
better collaboration with brownfield-impacted communities....

Peter and Arlene,

I think Peter has raised a really good point.  I currently work with the
Urban Habitat Program in San Francisco on the Brownfield Leadership and
Community Revitalization Project, and am developing a community guide to
brownfield redevelopment (<italic>see below for info on <bold>Building
Upon Our Strengths:  A Community Guide to Brownfield

I believe your point is also directly related to how communities can make
<italic>informed</italic> decisions throughout the brownfield
redevelopment process.  We all know that brownfields touch on an
extraordinary number of issues, ranging from environmental remediation to
financing.  For these communities, in particular, brownfields also raise
the opportunity to create livable communities for the predominantly
lower-income, people of color residing next to these sites.  Thus,
understanding the regional economic forces and how they play out at the
local level is critical for planning sites that will be compatible with
these forces and move urban communities towards a more sustainable
economy and environment. 

This implies that there is a larger investment in making a long-term
vision happen.  How that vision is actually put into practice and,
therefore, what constitutes community acceptance depends on the unique
needs of each brownfield-impacted community.  

But again, this goes back to how informed the community is about
brownfield redevelopment.  Historically, part of the problem with
community participation in previous urban revitalization programs is that
they by and large utilized top-down approaches that did not allow
communities to be well-informed of all the factors and issues involved,
making the process a time-consuming and even frustrating one for
developers and all other parties involved.  With the exception of a few
cases, community leadership was vague and dialogue among all stakeholders
made a minimal impact on the entire process.

Adding on to Vernice Miller's train of thought, we should all strive to
make this current community and economic revitalization effort distinctly
different from its predecessors.  The community guide that I'm working on
outlines some of basic issues that help brownfield-impacted communities
see how they fit into the larger picture, better understand basic
brownfield redevelopment language, and more effectively work on points of
collaboration with various stakeholders.  

Entitled, <bold>Building Upon Our Strengths:  A Community Guide to
Brownfield Redevelopment, </bold>the guide is part of the Urban Habitat
strategy to build the capacity of communities of color and poor people
that are disproportionately affected by brownfields to effectively engage
in and lead brownfields plannning, project development, and policy-making
at the local and regional levels.  We believe that as communities become
more knowledgeable on all issues involved, decisions and partnerships
will benefit from better dialogue and negotiations. 

Over the last few years, our organization has helped lead a regional
stakeholder group that includes members including community leaders,
non-profits, federal, state, and local regulators, health agencies,
private consultants, and local government officials from six (6) Bay Area
brownfield pilot/grant cities.  The Brownfield Working Group (BFWG) has
and continues to collectively identify and work through several cutting
edge, community-based issues.  In fact, Arlene Wong from Pacific
Institute is an active participant of the group and will be collaborating
with us to identify issues that should be expanded for other California

We also believe that certain definitions about "community" can be best
brought about by dialogue that grows out of partnerships, such as the
BFWG.  As a result, the BFWG is currently facilating dialogues on lessons
learned from By Area pilots to (1) identify the opportunities and
barriers to effective community particpation and partnership-building and
(2) brainstorm strategies of how to captalize on opportunities and
overcome barriers to meaningful community particpation.  

If you'd like more information on the BFWG, how to order the Guide, or
other UHP projects, please don't hesitiate to email me or call us at
(415) 561-3336. Please see below for more info on the Guide and on Urban


<bold>Building Upon Our Strengths:  A Community Guide to Brownfield
Redevelopment in the Bay Area


Below are some of the topics the Guide will cover.  It will be out in
print in May.  Based on the Bay Area experience, the guide will hopefully
serve as a model for other regions.  

-  the role of environmental justice in brownfields

-  identifying the roots of the brownfields problem in the Bay Area

-  lessons learned from previous revitalization programs

-  identifying key stakeholders in the region

-  understanding the different elements of the brownfield redevelopment

-  community concerns around risk

-  understanding liability and other obstacles

-  lessons learned from recent Bay Area efforts

-  linkages to larger issues facing the region (e.g., transportation,
public health, etc)

-  moving towards sustainability

The Guide will also include a glossary, list of acronyms, resources, and
other valuable information for communities.


Lizette Hernandez

Brownfield Leadership and 

Community Revitalization Project

The Urban Habitat Program (UHP) History and Mission

Founded in 1989, UHP is dedicated to building multicultural urban
environmental leadership for socially just, ecologically sustainable
communities in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Under the direction of Carl
Anthony,  UHP has played a leadership role in broadening environmental
justice's national agenda.  At the metropolitan regional scale--through
actions, networking, conferences, publications, teaching, and
advocacy--UHP has assisted over a hundred organizations working on
environmental justice issues:  environmental health, food security,
recycling, energy, miltary base conversion, arts and culture, education,
immigration, parks and open space.  UHP brings the vision of
environmental justice to struggles for community development, human and
civil rights, and ecological sustainability to create a multicultural
majority that can provide leadership to resolve the social, economic, and
ecological challenges facing Bay Area communities.

At 10:13 AM 4/10/1998 -0700, you wrote:



>I suggest adding another issue to your project: that is, what

>community acceptance?  As communities gain power by being informed and

>through advisory responsibilities, how does it make decisions that plans

>acceptable, or that there is disagreement within the community, or that

>community does not approve of the plan.  This issue is surely linked to

>to define the community.  I'm sure that one of the first things a

>wants to know after it hears that a community is opposed or agrees with

>proposal, is how broad that opposition or support is. 

>Long ago (it seems), when I was employed by a large corporation, one of

>first things we would do in the environmental department after a new

>proposal had been made was to conduct a "fatal flaw" analysis.  This

>involved looking at environmental factors such as the existence of

>endangered or threatened species as well as the how community about

>about the project.  If we identified a fatal flaw in the proposal, it

>either have to be modified or dropped. I say this because I expect that

>smart developer does not go into a community wearing blindfolds, nor

>it be prudent to do so.  However, as communities take on a responsible

>in "deciding" whether a proposal meets its test, it should not only

>some objective criteria (e.g., the project must meet specified cleanup

>standards), but also have a way of deciding to agree/disagree with the

>proposal.  So far, I haven't seen any studies that define the manner 

>which community organizations provide advice regarding decisions such

>those expected in Brownfield developments.


>Peter Strauss



>At 02:05 PM 4/9/98 -0700, Arlene K. Wong wrote:

>>The current discussion of community involvement in brownfields provides

>>opportunity to share a project we are conducting that speaks to a
number of

>>the issues raised. This project is just underway, so we don't have

>>yet, but I thought it would be useful to inform you about issues we
hope to

>>address--many of the issues that have been raised in this recent

>>Specifically, we are in the process of:


>>1. Examining models of effective community participation and its

>>principles (including discussion of "who is the community");

>>2. Identifying and describing points for community involvement in the

>>redevelopment process;

>>3. Assessing the current requirements and procedures for community

>>participation in regulatory and other brownfield institutions (in

>>California); and 

>>4. Providing analysis and examples of effective

>>partnerships (i.e. look at the quality of community participation and

>>impact in various projects).


>>Our primary focus is brownfields redevelopment in California, but we

>>anticipate that the findings will have national relevance. To fully

>>the issue and capture its complexity, we would welcome your suggestions

>>model projects (primarily, but not exclusively, in California) that 

>>should examine. To maximize what we can learn from these cases, we 

>>interested in examining cases at various stages of redevelopment. Also,

>>you have ideas and suggestions about issues we should explore, projects

>>should consider, people we should to contact, or if you want to find

>>more about this project, please feel free to contact Santos Gomez or

>>Wong directly at:


>>Pacific Institute

>>654 13th Street

>>Oakland, CA  94612

>>Ph. 510-251-1600

>>Fax 510-251-2203

>>E-mail:  Arlene Wong at awong@pacinst.org

>>   Santos Gomez at sgomez@ix.netcom.com




>>The Pacific Institute is an independent, non-profit center created in

>>to do applied policy research to assist policymakers, communities, 

>>activists with finding sustainable solutions to natural resource and

>>community development problems. By design, our work draws links among

>>broad range of environmental, social, economic, and political

>>Through our work, we contribute to equitable and sound development,

>>reversal of environmental degradation, and empowerment of people and

>>communities. Fundamental in our search for sustainable solutions is the

>>for democratic, participatory decision-making.



>>Arlene K. Wong   >>Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and
Security  >>654 13th Street   >>Oakland, CA  94612


>>Voice: 510-251-1600

>>Fax:  510-251-2203

>>Website:  www.pacinst.org/pacinst






  Prev by Date: New Brownfields Book
Next by Date: Job Announcement: Project Director
  Prev by Thread: Re: Community Participation
Next by Thread: Community Participation -Reply

CPEO Lists
Author Index
Date Index
Thread Index