1999 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: TommeY@aol.com
Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1999 13:33:20 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: Re: "The Economic Benefits of Open Space"
	Thanks for the referral.  I am familiar with a number of such 
articles in this area, and don't really question your view of the dominant 
paradigm (which I think is really the concept most people have of the 
problem), although I think that most such generalized statements are equally 
true (i.e. about 25-40% of the time).  
	I guess I am just wondering what value (or difference) exists in 
making these type of generalized analyses, in terms of how they affect the 
work of brownfields redevelopment.  The options seem to me rather limited -- 
remedidal action or no remedial action; compensation for direct injury/damage 
or none; reuse of former contaminated property or development of other 
properties; etc.  
	Unfortunatly for those of "lower socio-economic classes" who don't 
own property in the redevelopment area the options seem to be:
	-- to live in a community which is of lower value as a residential 
area because it is contaminated; or 
	-- to live in a community which is of lower value as a residential 
area for other reasons.  
However, I don't think this is a problem of brownfields programs (or other 
redevelopment) themselves, but a part of the greater set of problems relating 
to the distribution of wealth in the country.  Hardly anything we can change 
by adjusting our thinking on brownfields.
	Moreover, of course, the primary problem underlying the entire area 
is the problem of designating parties "responsible" for contamination and the 
results of contamination is the issue -- a problem which you quite cogently 
describe as "brownfields [are] an artifact of productive activity where the 
owners haven't internalized all of the costs of the productive activity."  
Here, it should be noted that the owners haven't internalized all the 
benefits of the productive activity, either.  Communities spring up around 
industrial development because industrial activities benefit individuals, 
too.  Especially those in lower economic groups.  Any attempt to take too 
academic an approach to evaluation of the socio-economic rationale behind any 
of these programs seems to me doomed to end up in a mire of fractionalized 
thinking, with no real purpose.
	For me, the question is what alternatives exist?  I can't picture a 
generally accepted legal solution to the brownfields problem that will not 
result in provision of some benefits to the owners.  Sadly, in many cases, 
these benefits will be greater than the direct benefits to members of 
communities from lower socio-economic levels that are also directly affected 
by the presence of brownfields.  Perhaps my thinking is flawed, but in my 
mind, the alternatives are to remedy brownfields or not to do so.  And, from 
this perspective at least, some benefit accrues to all.  
	I guess that, for this discussion to continue to hold any further 
interest for me, I need to know what alternatives are proposed -- not 
alternatives to the our socio-economic model of what the brownfields 
situation is (because I think most people's models are remarkably consistent 
with the one you are using), but alternatives in terms of action.  
	This line of discussion began as a question of what "justice" could 
be found in the fact that open-space dedication is shown to positively impact 
property values in surrounding lands, and has segued into a discussion of the 
concept of environmental justice in brownfield remediation more generally.  
However, to me, the question of "Justice" in regard to government action can 
only be addressed on the basis of an evaluation of the available or possible 
options.   So I need to know what options we are talking about here?  Is this 
the standard discussion of the weaknesses of  "government redevelopment 
programs"?   (If so, there is lots of literature I can recommend on the 
application of socio-economic approachs to factual situations.)  Or, on the 
other hand, do your concerns question the validity of the brownfields 
programs in general (as being antithetical to the interests of disadvantaged 

(I will certainly be interested in your reply, although I may not be able to 
answer it for several weeks...)

Tomme Young

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