With the new available housing supply critical in San Diego and across the country during the current housing crisis, affordable housing options for low-income people in need are more important than ever. Below are several examples of recent Brownfields projects that have been or are under development by affordable housing developers to benefit the critical needs of the developmentally disabled and seniors.
Mercy Housing, Villa de la Vida – Mercy Housing Corporation (MHC) redeveloped a creek-front Poway site with multiple former leaking underground storage tanks (USTs) into Villa de Vida, a home for adults with developmental disabilities. The site had been historically used as a San Diego County Department of Public Works Road Station with fueling stations operating from 1942 to 1998 and had several leaking USTs, which had impacted the soil and groundwater with gasoline. In addition, operations at former structures on the site had caused elevated lead concentrations in shallow soil from lead-based paint and asbestos in materials used for building construction. The UST case was closed in 2004 but left behind petroleum hydrocarbon impacts in both soil and groundwater. Working under the regulatory oversight of the County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health, MHC hired SCS Engineers to perform Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments. SCS prepared and implemented a Soil Management Plan (SMP) to ensure proper management and removal of lead- and petroleum hydrocarbon-bearing soil to ensure the safety of future residents and the environment in the development area, including the adjacent Poway Creek.
Community Housing Works, North Park Seniors – The North Park Seniors Project is San Diego’s first LGBT senior housing project. The housing was built in an area historically developed as early as 1921 with previous commercial and residential land uses. Due to the historical land uses at the site, which included a former blacksmith and horse stables circa 1921, elevated concentrations of lead were present in the soil that exceeded residential screening levels. To protect human health for future residents and workers and save costs on soil disposal at a landfill, SCS proposed a unique plan. In collaboration with Community HousingWorks, the County of San Diego Department of Environmental Health, and the project design team, lead-bearing soil could be reused or safely buried beneath the project during grading activities. The plan also greatly reduced the amount of truck traffic and greenhouse gas emissions during site preparation.
RD Brown Company and EAH Housing – Imperial Seniors – A former gasoline service station in the City of Imperial is being redeveloped into an assisted senior living facility. The project has gasoline impacted soil, groundwater, and currently has an open unauthorized release case overseen by the Regional Water Quality Control Board. The Water Board allows the proposed development to move forward while the case is still open, provided that a vapor barrier is installed beneath the proposed building and groundwater remediation and monitoring continue until gas/benzene levels in groundwater meet acceptable levels. Construction is on schedule to start in 2022.