2005 CPEO Installation Reuse Forum Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 26 Apr 2005 05:14:10 -0000
Reply: cpeo-irf
Subject: [CPEO-IRF] The jigsaw puzzle
The 2005 round of base closures, like every other round, will bring new
strategies for transferring federal property. The Navy has been talking
up market sales as its primary property disposal method, and the other
armed services are hinting at similar strategies. There will definitely
be more land auctions and other types of sales in the next few years.

According to Navy officials, its emerging model for base closure
property transactions is that each party assumes its conventional role.
Local jurisdictions, such as cities, retain their planning authority.
But they don't serve as intermediaries in property transactions. The
Navy wants to sell directly to developers.

It would be a mistake, however, to equate that with the wholesale,
turnkey transfer of entire bases to single private purchasers. A typical
base will be divided up into multiple parcels. Some property will be
sold, but as in the recent auction of California's former El Toro Marine
Corps Air Station, the sale property may be divided into multiple
parcels. Other parcels will be retained by a mix of federal agencies. At
El Toro, the Navy held onto large chunks of property because they were
considered - I believe appropriately - too dirty to be transferred at
this time. That acreage is to be leased in furtherance of conveyance. In
addition, about 900 acres were transferred to the Federal Aviation Administration.

At Puerto Rico's Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, the Navy's stated model
for upcoming property dispositions, 212 acres are reportedly being
transferred to other federal agencies, including 45 acres to the
Homeland Security Department, 75 acres to the U.S. Customs Service, and
90 acres to the U.S. Army Reserve.

Also at Roosevelt Roads, large portions of the property are being
transferred as public benefit conveyances (which means below market
value), apparently for a mix of uses including parklands, homeless
services, and air transportation. And another 3,400 acre Conservation
Conveyance will contain the facility's wetlands/mangrove forests.

At El Toro, instead of using public benefit conveyances, the Navy and
the city of Irvine, which holds zoning power, arranged that the
purchasers of Navy property would make large portions of the base
available for what backers call the "Great Park," as well as educational uses.

The key point is not that any form of future use or conveyance authority
will predominate. It will vary from base to base. Rather, despite the
push toward market sales, the future land ownership of a typical base is
likely look like a jigsaw puzzle, just as it has in the past.

Under the land-sale model, the local government's planning (general plan
development, zoning, and subdivision map approval) authority is supposed
to bring unity (not uniformity) to the future land use map. But local
governments do not have planning authority over federal agencies, state
agencies, or property within adjacent jurisdictions (and that's a whole
'nother subject).

To ensure compatible land use, provide adequate transportation, and
organize the entire range of infrastructure elements, there remains a
need for a local reuse authority. That is, even if property is conveyed
directly to developers with no period of local agency ownership, there
is still a need for a Local Reuse Authority with comprehensive oversight
of facility reuse. 

In previous closure rounds, it proved difficult to reuse some bases,
otherwise viewed as prime real estate, because of the jigsaw puzzle
ownership. Looking ahead, one might argue that the Reuse Authority needs
more authority than in the past, with oversight over federal and state
re-users of the base, to ensure the timely, productive reuse of
properties where a range of transfer authorities (along with selective
property retention) is being utilized.

Lenny Siegel

Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918
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