Recommendations for the Sustainable Remediation Process,
                   Open Space, and Habitat Restoration
                                        FINAL REPORT

                                           January 2011

Prepared Under:
Contract No. EP-W-07-023

Prepared for:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response
Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization
Washington, DC 20460

Prepared by:

www . sra. com/environment

   Partnership for Sustainable Communities Brownfield Pilots	3
   Partnership Livability Principles	3
   National City Partnership for Sustainable Communities Brownfield Pilot Project	3
   Background	8
   Sustainable Remediation for the Westside TOD Project	10
   Community Workshop Summary	13
   Active Recreation Options	16
   Community Garden Options	19
   Habitat Restoration Summary	24
   Overall Approach: Ten Tenets of Habitat Restoration	24
   Application of Tenets to National City	26
This report is prepared for informational purposes only. SRA/Vita Nuova has relied upon outside sources
for information and data presented in this report. Although all best efforts were used to confirm
information and complete this report, no representation or warranties are made as to the timeliness,
accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein or that the actual results will conform to
any projections or recommendations contained herein. All areas are approximate. Any reliance upon this
material shall be without any liability or obligation on the part of SRA/Vita Nuova.

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5  National City, CA              January 2011


Partnership for Sustainable Communities Brownfield Pilots
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Housing and Urban Development
(HUD), and Department of Transportation (DOT) are working together under the Partnership for
Sustainable Communities to ensure that federal investments, policies and actions support development
that is more efficient and sustainable. This partnership is based on "livability principles" that guide inter-
agency collaboration and support the integration of: safe, reliable, and economical transportation;
affordable, energy-efficient housing; and sustainable reuse of idle or underutilized land. Pilot
communities were selected by EPA's Brownfields Program with input from HUD and DOT. The three
agencies are working with the pilot communities to build on past investments, as well as identify
opportunities to link housing, transit, and brownfields, as well as coordinate sustainability resources.

Partnership Livability Principles
The Partnership for Sustainable Communities has established a set of livability principles to guide the
agencies' efforts and other infrastructure investments to protect the environment, promote equitable
development, and help address the challenges of climate change. The Livability Principles are:

    •    Provide more transportation choices. Develop safe, reliable, and economical transportation
        choices to decrease household transportation costs, reduce our nation's dependence  on foreign oil,
        improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and promote public health.
    •    Promote equitable, affordable housing. Expand location-  and energy-efficient housing choices
        for people of all ages, incomes, races, and ethnicities  to increase mobility and lower the combined
        cost of housing and transportation.
    •    Enhance economic competitiveness. Improve economic competitiveness through reliable and
        timely access to employment centers, educational opportunities, services, and other  basic needs
        by workers, as well as expanded business access to markets.
    •    Support existing communities. Target federal funding toward existing communities—through
        strategies like transit oriented, mixed-use development and land recycling—to increase
        community revitalization and the efficiency of public works investments and safeguard rural
    •    Coordinate and leverage federal policies and investment. Align federal policies and funding to
        remove barriers to collaboration, leverage funding, and increase the accountability and
        effectiveness of all levels of government to plan for future growth, including making smart
        energy choices such as locally generated renewable energy.
    •    Value communities and neighborhoods. Enhance the unique characteristics of all  communities
        by investing in healthy, safe, and walkable neighborhoods—rural, urban or suburban.

National City Partnership for Sustainable Comm unities Brownfield Pilot Project

Study Area
The National City Pilot is located in the Westside neighborhood, a primarily low-income, minority, urban
neighborhood, wholly contained within the incorporated limits of National City, California.  National City
has a population of approximately 61,000 and is located five miles south of San Diego.  Over the past 50
years, the Westside neighborhood has evolved from a primarily residential neighborhood to  include a
significant number of industrial uses, mainly auto body-related, in and around homes and an elementary
school. The Westside Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Project will mark one of the largest and most

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5 National City, CA
January 2011
significant increases in residential use in the neighborhood.

The study area is focused on the future site of the Westside Affordable Housing TOD Project (Westside
TOD Project). The Westside TOD Project will be an infill development project on the site of a former city
public works maintenance area and a charter bus company. The approximately 14-acre site is bounded by
W. 19th Street on the north, Hoover Avenue to the east, W. 22nd to the south, and Harding Avenue to the
west. Paradise Creek, a tidal waterway, bisects the site, Kimball Elementary School sits immediately to
the north, and the 24th Street trolley station is approximately 200 feet to the south.

                                      Figure 1: Context Map
                               The Westside TOD Site is Outlined in Black
                                                                source: Google Maps, December 2010.

The 14-acre Westside TOD site is divided into two general areas, referred to as the facility side and the
park side. The facility side is currently occupied by a charter bus company and National City's Public
Works Department's maintenance yard and administrative offices. The site is generally flat, with some
small inclines around Paradise Creek. There is a large mound of street sweeping materials on the park
side of the property. The site also includes a small amphitheater and raised walkways around the Creek
with educational signage.

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5  National City, CA
January 2011
                                    Figure 2: Westside TOD Site
A release from former underground storage tanks located on the maintenance yard has impacted soil and
ground water in the southern portion of the property. Investigations conducted to date indicate
concentrations of volatile organic compounds, such as benzene, may be present in soil and ground water
above state action levels. These compounds are generically referred to as "chemicals of concern." The
park side of the site is currently used by the City as a garbage transfer station and collection point for
street sweeping materials. Current environmental conditions in this area of the site include elevated
petroleum hydrocarbon concentrations in the soil and undocumented fill materials. Investigations are
ongoing and remedial action selection and design has not yet been accomplished.

Pilot Scope
Over the past few years, the Westside neighborhood has started to address the numerous heavy industrial
uses, mostly auto-related, that exist throughout the neighborhood. With approximately 389 polluters per
square mile, this technical assistance project is focused on providing recommendations for redeveloping
and revitalizing the Westside TOD Project site to build upon the City and community's redevelopment
efforts already in progress, such as auto-related business design guidelines, revised zoning, and
addressing auto-related non-conforming uses. This Pilot also includes technical assistance on addressing
non-conforming uses in the Westside neighborhood, which will be delivered as a separate report in early

The recommendations in the report are based upon research on existing environmental, neighborhood,

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5 National City, CA
                                                              January 2011
and community reports, as well as extensive interviews with multiple community stakeholders, including
residents and local nonprofits. A community meeting further served to solicit the community's input.
Using the information and data collected, the Technical Assistance Team's recommendations focused on
three primary areas to assist the Westside TOD Project meet the Partnership's livability principles and
help the project serve as a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization. The three areas are:  1) sustainable
remediation; 2) redevelopment options for the  City-owned open space site; and 3) habitat restoration for
Paradise Creek. These recommendations are intended to support National City as it prepares the TOD
Project site for redevelopment.

Key Stakeholders
The National City Partnership for Sustainable Communities  Brownfield Pilot is led by the EPA Office of
Brownfields and Land Revitalization (OBLR). Technical assistance for the Pilot is provided under
contract by SRA International, Inc. and Vita Nuova LLC (Technical Assistance Team). During the Pilot,
the Technical Assistance Team participated in  two site visits to National City and the Westside TOD
Project. In order to better understand the neighborhood needs, during the site visits the Technical
Assistance Team interviewed key stakeholders and groups and conducted a community meeting. A
summary of the individuals and their associated constituencies are provided in Table  1,  as well as key
concerns or issues related to the Westside TOD Project and neighborhood.

                                      Table 1: Key Stakeholders
Environmental Health
Toxic Free Neighborhood
campaign works with
Westside residents to
educate and organize
around auto-related use
issues. EHC represents a
large number of residents
and has been active in the
neighborhood for at least 2
years. Promotoras (female
residents) are one of the
key ways EHC reaches out
to the community.
     Key Issue(s)
  Affordable housing for
  large families (very low
  Restore community
  Open space
  Include adjacent public
  works yard
  Paradise Creek
   Carolina Martinez,
   Policy Advocate
   Georgette Gomez, TFN
San Diego Organizing
Project (SDOPySt.
Anthony's Parish
SDOP became involved
with the Westside
neighborhood when the
parish priest was worried
about his diminishing
congregation. SDOP
conducted listening
campaigns and began
training residents, initially
around the high incidence
of asthma.
  Open space
  Affordable housing
  Include adjacent public
  works yard
  Allow residents access
  to the TOD site
  Maintain neighborhood
• Hannah Gravette,
  Community Organizer
Kimball Elementary
Neighborhood elementary
school teaching pre-
kindergarten through sixth
grades. Immediately
adjacent to the TOD site.
• Rare flooding of the
  school grounds and
• Trash collects after rain
• Need additional
   Sonia Ruan, Principal

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5 National City, CA
January 2011

Old Town Neighborhood
Paradise Creek Foundation
Land Owner
(Robert "Dukie"
Westside TOD Project
Teachers use Paradise
Creek as a teaching tool
and hold outdoor classes
on the site.
Neighborhood Council
acts as a voice for the
community and holds
monthly meetings. Acts as
a means of interacting with
City departments and City
Nonprofit organization
helping to restore Paradise
Creek. Organize cleanup,
educational programs and
worked with City to raise
money and create the
Creek park.
Former neighborhood
resident and current land
owner. Son attended
Kimball Elementary and
contracted life-long health
issues, potentially caused
by the school's location.
Planning to develop an
approximately 200+
affordable housing
development on the
project site.
community gathering
• Development should
make residents proud
• Occasional drug
dealing around the
school and TOD site
• Incompatible uses
• Affordable housing
• Paradise Creek
• Creek buffers
• Move planned bridge
across the Creek
• Paradise Creek
• Creek buffers
• Only one Creek view
• Remove apartments on
west side of TOD site
• Creek culverts
• Removal of auto-
related businesses
• Open space/community
gardens/recreation for
the community
• Health impacts
• Community
• Project development

• Jose Medina, President
• Ted Godshalk,
Executive Director
• Robert "Dukie"
Valderrama, Local
Land Owner/Port
• Rick Westberg, The
Related Companies
• Mary Jane Jagodzinski,
In addition to the community interviewees, the Technical Assistance Team also interviewed National City
staff, including Patricia Beard, Redevelopment Manager, Brad Raulston, Community Development
Director, and Claudia Silva, City Attorney. The City's environmental consultant, Daryl Hernandez, also
provided additional information related to the site's environmental conditions.

National City Pilot Purpose

The following report provides guidance to National City on the redevelopment of its Westside Affordable
Housing TOD Project. The recommendations presented reflect National City's desire to implement the
Partnership's Livability Principles through a concrete project that:
    •   Reuses existing infrastructure;
    •   Sustainably  addresses all environmental issues;
    •   Plans for affordable housing and open space;
    •   Builds community consensus; and

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5 National City, CA             January 2011

    •   Values and protects the natural habitat.

Using the recommendations as a starting point, the City can implement a coordinated approach to
redeveloping the site that respects both the community and the site.

Sustainable Remediation Process


As National City engages in efforts to redevelop the future Westside TOD site into a sustainable mixed
income housing and greenspace that complements the surrounding residential and commercial
communities, impacts to the ground water and soil associated with releases from former underground
storage tanks, as well as other potential sources on the property, may need to be addressed. The
sustainable strategy for the redevelopment must consider the environmental, economic and social impacts
on the future uses of the property and the surrounding community. The following discussion is intended
to provide background on the concepts of sustainable remediation.

Remediation is a term that is often used interchangeably with terms such as cleanup and corrective action.
These terms generally refer to actions taken to:

    •   Investigate the presence and extent of chemicals in soil, ground water, and other environmental
    •   Select and implement a remedy that removes, reduces or eliminates exposure to concentrations of
       these chemicals in the environmental media to be protective of human health and the
       environment; and
    •   Conduct long-term monitoring and stewardship of the remedy.

The actions taken will vary based on many factors such as the properties of the chemicals released, the
environmental media impacted, surface topology, physical obstructions, such  as buildings or roads, and
regulatory requirements.

The terms green remediation  and sustainable remediation are often used interchangeably. Remediation
activities use energy and natural resources and generate wastes. Green remediation refers to the
consideration of the potential  impacts the remediation activities will have on the environment. It looks to
maximize the net environmental benefit of a remediation on human health and the environment by using
resources in a manner that does not exceed the rate at which it can be renewed, avoiding or minimizing
the use of non-renewable resources, and not exceeding the capacity of the environment to absorb wastes.
Specifically, EPA has identified five elements to assist in evaluating opportunities for green remediation
activities. These elements are:

    •   Total energy use and  renewable energy use
    •   Air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions
    •   Water use and impacts to water resources
    •   Materials management and waste reduction
    •   Land management and ecosystems protection

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5 National City, CA
January 2011
                                     Figure 3: Green Elements
Sustainable remediation encompasses a broader approach that includes green remediation as an important
component. Sustainable remediation is the integration and balancing of social (i.e., common goals and
individual needs of the community, such as health, nutrition, housing, education, recreation, and cultural
norms, values, and beliefs), economic (i.e., the financial feasibility of achieving environmental quality
and social equity, including jobs, a viable tax base, and community enhancements), and environmental
(e.g., green remediation) values with practices that enhance social equity, economic prosperity, and
environmental quality. It applies to all aspects of the remediation process and involves an alternatives
analysis approach where alternatives are evaluated for each action or step in the remediation process with
one alternative ultimately being chosen based on the preferred balance of environmental, economic or
social impacts. It is important to note that the implementation of sustainable remediation  requires that the
remediation consider the potential future use of the property or area impacted by the remediation, comply
with applicable laws and regulations, and be protective of human health and the environment.

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot  o*5  National City, CA               January 2011

                 Figure 4: Intersection of Social, Economic and Environmental Elements
Sustainable Remediation for the Westside TOD Project
It is the remedial action decision, implementation and long-term stewardship that are the subject of this
discussion on sustainable remediation for the Westside TOD Project site. Since investigation activities are
not complete, a discussion of specific remedial action alternatives is not appropriate; therefore, a general
discussion of the remedial action decision process in the context of sustainable remediation is provided.

Traditionally, the selection of a remedial action has been based on criteria such as the effectiveness of the
remedy (e.g., toxicity, mobility or volume reduction of chemicals of concern), feasibility of the remedial
action (e.g., capital and operating cost constraints), and time constraints. These considerations are critical
components in the evaluation of remedial action alternatives, but do not fully balance the environmental,
social and economic impacts of a remedial action beyond the remedial action itself. Remedial action
should consider both traditional criteria to ensure that the selected remedial action will achieve the
remediation objectives established for the property and sustainable criteria to  ensure a balance of the
environmental, social and economic impacts external to the remedial action. The selected remedial action
should be the one that best meets theses two sets of criteria. See Table 2 for the general steps and
questions necessary to  evaluate sustainable remedial actions.

                     Table 2: General Steps for Sustainable Remediation Evaluation
    1.   Establish remediation objectives that are protective of human health and the environment. These could
        be concentrations of chemicals of concern in soil, ground water or other environmental media that are
        protective of human health and the environment, specific exposure pathways that need to be minimized
        or eliminated, or a combination of the two.	
    2.   Engage stakeholders early in the evaluation process to understand the perspectives and values of all of
        the stakeholders. Stakeholders include property owners, developers, regulatory agencies, and
        community members.
    3.   Identify potential alternatives for remedial action that can meet the remediation objectives (traditional
        3.1. Does the remedial action reduce the toxicity, mobility, or volume of the chemical of concern in the
   	environmental media (reduction)?	

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot  o*5 National City, CA                January 2011
        3.2. Will the remediation objectives be achieved during the remedial action implementation (short-
              term effectiveness)?

        3.3. Will the remediation objectives continue to be achieved after the remedial action is complete
              (long-term effectiveness)?

        3.4. Can the remedial action be constructed, reliably operated, maintained, and monitored (technical

        3.5. Will the remedial action meet regulatory requirements for the remediation and related regulatory
              requirements associated with potential treatment, storage, and disposal requirements and
              services (administrative feasibility)?

        3.6. Is the equipment and technical expertise required for the remedial action readily available to
              implement and maintain the remedial action (administrative feasibility)?

        3.7. Is the cost of implementation and operating the remedial action reasonable with respect to the
              effectiveness of the remedial  action (cost constraints)?

        3.8. Are their time constraints associated with the implementation or completion of the remedial action
       	(time constraints)?	
    4.  Evaluate the opportunities for sustainability of the identified remedial action alternatives (sustainable
        remediation criteria). The evaluation should consider issues on the property and in the surrounding
        area resulting from the implementation of the remedial action.

        4.1. Environment (green remediation)
              4.1.1. Does the remedial action create new unacceptable exposures and risks not associated with
                       the current environmental condition on the property or allow unacceptable exposures to
              4.1.2. What are the energy requirements necessary to operate the system throughout the entire
                       life of the remedial action?
                 Are there opportunities to improve energy efficiency and use renewable
                                 energy sources?
              4.1.3. Are natural resources going to be utilized when implementing the remedial action (e.g.,
                 Can natural resource use be reduced or eliminated?
                 Can treated water be reused or treated and discharged to surface or ground
                 Are natural resources going to be impacted when implementing the
                                 remedial action (e.g., water, soil, ecological habitats)?
                 Will remedial action further harm land resources and ecosystems at or near
                                 the property?
              4.1.4. Are pollutants generated by the remedial action (e.g., chemical emissions to air, chemical
                       discharges to water, waste disposal or treatment, and other paniculate matter)?
                 Are there opportunities to reduce air emissions from activities, such as
                                 treatment processes, operation of heavy machinery, and vehicle use?
                 How effective will the remedial action be versus the impact of the remedial
                                 action on the  environment as a whole?
                 What are the  impacts of operating the remedial action (e.g., green house gas
                                 emissions, disturbance of native flora)?
              4.1.5. Are there opportunities to reduce the use of raw materials, minimize waste generation,
                       use recycled and/or local materials, use local labor and expertise, and purchase
                       environmentally preferred products?
              4.1.6. Are there opportunities to harness or mimic a natural process (e.g., natural attenuation

        4.2. Economic
              4.2.1. What are the costs of implementing the remedial action without consideration of the
    	sustainable criteria (e.g., based on the traditional criteria only)?	

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5  National City, CA               January 2011
              4.2.2. Are their positive economic benefits that can be realized by the implementation of
                     sustainable alternatives for the remedial action (e.g., soil reuse, accelerated
                     redevelopment, implementation during or as part of the redevelopment activities)?
              4.2.3. Are there economic risks that are presented by the remedial action alternative (i.e.,
                     extended timeframes for redevelopment, unacceptable costs, worker safety)?

        4.3. Social
              4.3.1. Have stakeholders been actively engaged in the evaluation and decision making process?
              Are the issues the community and other stakeholders raised addressed by
                               the remedial action alternative?
              Has information on the advantages and disadvantages along with the
                               potential for impacts on the community associated with each remedial
                               action alternative been provided to the community and other stakeholders?
              Are there issues that have resulted from the environmental condition of the
                               property that have had an inequitable or adverse effect on the community?
              Will the remedial action resolve these issues or create new situations that
                               may lead to further inequities or adverse effects?
              4.3.2. Are there potential adverse effects to the community associated with each remedial
              Are there potential effects to existing local traffic flow and patterns?
              Are there potential health and safety risks to the community (e.g., truck
              Are there nuisance issues (e.g., noise, dust) that will result from the
                               remedial action?
              Are there opportunities for local employment or purchase of materials and
                               supplies from local suppliers?
              4.3.3. Are there restrictions on the current and future use of the property that are inconsistent
       	with the local vision for the property and surrounding area?	
    5.   Identify actions to meet sustainability criteria.
The selection, implementation and operation of a remedial action provide significant opportunities to
increase the sustainability of the remedial action. For example, concentrations of chemicals of concern in
soil can be addressed in a number of ways:

    •   Treatment in place using bioremediation techniques
    •   Excavation and treatment on the property
    •   Excavation and disposal or treatment off the property
    •   Engineering controls (e.g., paving)
    •   Engineered caps
    •   Building foundations to eliminate exposures
    •   Institution controls that minimize exposure to the soil (e.g., non-residential use)

However, each technique has unique tradeoffs. In-place treatment may reduce concentrations to a level
acceptable for most future uses, but may delay redevelopment of the property until remedial action is
complete. Excavation and treatment will reduce concentrations of chemicals of concern in the soil, but
will require excavation equipment on the property (and associated dust and vehicle air emissions) and
may delay redevelopment of the property until remedial action is complete. Excavation and disposal
removes chemicals of concern, but requires soil to be trucked from and to the site, resulting in additional
truck traffic and air emissions and dust during the excavation activities. Engineered controls and deed
restrictions can be implemented quickly and as part of the redevelopment activities, but chemicals of
concern remain on the property requiring long-term stewardship to protect users from unexpected
exposures. Best management practices, such as using clean fuels and renewable energy sources for
vehicles and equipment, and reusing construction and routine operational materials, can address many  of

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5 National City, CA              January 2011

these issues. However, the ultimate decision on a remedial action will depend on the ability of the
selected remedial action to best meet the traditional and sustainable criteria for a sustainable remediation.

Open  Space Usage  Recommendations

Community Workshop Summary
On November 4, 2010, National City, EPA and the Technical Assistance Team held a community
workshop in the Westside neighborhood to discuss the following:

    •   Advantages of brownfields redevelopment
    •   Sustainable remediation approaches
    •   Options for open space on the City-owned parcel

The workshop provided examples of brownfields redevelopment and remediation options, information on
the regulatory framework for brownfields cleanup, and presented potential site features for the open space
site. Community members were invited to participate in an interactive discussion, ask questions regarding
brownfields, and discuss options for open space on the Westside TOD Project site. The workshop was
intended to educate and begin to build consensus, as well as serve as the starting point for future plans for
open space.

The open space site is a City-owned parcel of approximately 0.8 acres that has been designated by
National City for general open space. It sits northeast of the future Westside TOD Project. The site is a
former fueling station and is currently used as a transfer station. The site also includes a large mound of
street sweeping debris.

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5 National City, CA
January 2011
                                     Figure 5: Open Space Site
During the community discussion, a number of community members asked questions and made
comments regarding the open space site. One audience member said that the Westside neighborhood
needs more open space and requested that the City investigate additional sites. Community members also
indicated a desire that age and mobility be considered when programming and designing the site, so
regardless of the end use, the site will be functional for the entire community. Participants suggested
speaking with the children attending the adjacent Kimball Elementary School to ask their preferences for
the site or polling the citizens once the choices have been narrowed. In addition, many participants were
specifically interested in how community gardens were managed and operated and whether uses could be
combined (i.e., combining active and passive parks). The audience, in general, also expressed a desire to
stay involved as the planning of the site moves forward.

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5 National City, CA
January 2011
                             Figure 6: Community Workshop Participants
At the community workshop, community members were asked to participate in a preference exercise to
help inform the reuse of the site. Participants were given four colored dots (two red - first choices, yellow
- second choice, blue - third choice) and asked to place the dots on the potential features they preferred.
The potential features and associated dot counts are as follows.

                              Table 3: Community Meeting Dot Exercise
Potential Feature First Choice Second Choice Third Choice
Art Installations
Community Gardens
Formal Gardens
Gathering Space
Open/Event Spaces




Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5 National City, CA
January 2011

Other Gardens (educational,
butterfly, drought tolerant, etc.)
Tot Lot/Swings/Park


The top two preferences indicated by the community during the workshop (highlighted in Table 3) were
an active recreational space (e.g., tot lot, swings) and a community garden. The following sections
provide additional information on these two options.

Active Recreation Options
During the community workshop, the participants clearly indicated a preference for active recreational
space. The following are illustrations and images of potential active recreational features that could be
used on the redeveloped open space site. For additional images, please see Appendix A.

                           Figure 7: Rendering of a Potential Playground

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5  National City, CA
January 2011
                              Figure 8: Rendering of a Potential Picnic Area
                                   Figure 9: Example Play Structures

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5 National City, CA
January 2011
                                  Figure 10: Example Park Seating
                                                          Data source: Image via Flickr, courtesy ofcjc4454.

Management/Organizational Structure Options


There are a number of management structures that could be utilized to develop and maintain the open
space site as an active recreational area. The City could maintain ownership of the site and develop the
park. The space could then be added to National City's list of parks and maintained as part of its Parks
and Facilities Department. Another option is for the City to transfer ownership (or create a lease
agreement) to the developers of the TOD Project. Alternatively, the developers could develop and
maintain the facilities themselves, as an amenity to their residents. In addition, the City could develop the
park, but the developers take control of maintenance once the facilities and equipment are in place.
Depending on the structure of the open space site development, the City and the TOD developer will need
to create an agreement that stipulates whether the park is open to the entire community, or only to the
development residents.


Reuse as an active recreation space presents a number of potential partnership opportunities for the site.
The site is located immediately adjacent to Kimball Elementary School, a public school serving
Kindergarten through sixth grade. The school has very limited access to recreation equipment and does
not have any greenspace. Kimball Elementary could use the new active  recreation space as their
playground, allowing the students access to greenspace. While the partnership with the elementary school

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5 National City, CA
January 2011
is the most obvious, due to its proximity, other organizations, such as local daycares, afterschool
programs and even churches could use the space. Partnerships with these different organizations and
groups will help keep the space active, while enhancing recreational opportunities for area children.

Community Garden Options
During the community workshop, the participants clearly indicated a preference for community gardens,
although there were a number of questions regarding the creation, management and operation of the
gardens. The following are illustrations and images of potential community garden features that could be
used on the redeveloped open space site. For additional images, please see Appendix B. Additional
information  on creating and setting up a community garden is  also provided.

                       Figure 11: Rendering of a Potential Community Garden

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot  o*5 National City, CA
January 2011
                                Figure 12: Example In Ground Garden

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5 National City, CA
January 2011
                             Figure 13: Example Above Ground Garden
Management/Organizational Structure Options


Before a community garden is established, it is important that the organizing group, whether it is a group
of residents, a nonprofit or a church group, develop a leasing agreement or memorandum of
understanding with National City. This type of agreement typically specifies a nominal yearly lease
amount (e.g., $1) and should run for a length of time, preferably three years or more. In addition, the lease
should specify a "hold harmless" clause which will address the City's liability for injuries sustained on
the site. This clause states that the gardeners will not sue the landowner if they sustain any injuries on site.
In some cases, community gardens also purchase liability insurance to help protect the landowner. When
investigating liability insurance, it may be beneficial to use a local insurance agent who is familiar with
the community.


Before a community garden breaks ground, creating a garden steering committee or oversight group is a
necessary first step. This committee or group acts as the garden's first set of leaders and guides the set-up
phase. This committee can be a division of a larger, already established organization, such as a
neighborhood nonprofit, neighborhood association or church.

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot  o*5  National City, CA               January 2011

The committee's first responsibility is to negotiate a lease and potentially obtain insurance for the site.
Once the land for the garden has been obtained, the committee should establish a set of rules or bylaws
which govern the community garden. The rules should stipulate, at a minimum:

    •  Individual plots or one large community plot
    •  Appropriate plant materials
    •  Maintenance responsibilities
    •  Watering guidelines
    •  Pesticide usage
    •  Membership conditions (e.g., residence, fees)
    •  Membership application procedures

The rules should also include a "gardener's agreement" (which every garden user must sign) that outlines
appropriate use of the plots and responsibilities.

Once clear rules and guidelines have been established, the oversight committee should create a clear
communication strategy to disseminate information to gardeners and potential volunteers. The strategy
should take into account the best methods to contact community members. For example, email may not be
the most preferred way of communicating. Communication should also include periodic meetings among
the gardeners and volunteers, as well as periodic reports to the City on garden progress. All
communication should be available in both Spanish and English.


Maintenance is an extremely important aspect of community gardens. Without a well-maintained garden,
plantings will not flourish and the community will be unlikely to invest more in the site. As a result, the
steering committee must set clear expectations for maintenance. These should also be codified in the
garden rules discussed above and all gardeners should agree to the stipulated maintenance. The following
are key maintenance concerns, as well as a short description of each.

    •  Cooperative vs. Individual Responsibility. If individual plots are used, the responsibility for
       each plot's maintenance can be divided between the respective plot owners. A schedule of tasks
       could be established for maintenance of communal space, such as paths. If the garden is a single
       communal garden, the steering committee could also  create a schedule that assigns maintenance
       tasks to each member on a rotating basis.
    •  Training. Community garden members will have a variety of gardening skill levels. In order to
       ensure that the garden has the best chance for success, the steering committee should set up
       periodic training sessions with experienced gardeners. More experienced members could also be
       assigned as mentors to new garden members.
    •  Seeds. Quality seeds are important to establishing a thriving garden. If fees or dues are charged
       for membership, seeds can be purchased from local garden stores. If dues are not required, the
       garden could approach local stores to donate seeds. When choosing seeds it is crucial to select
       those plants that will thrive at the site.
    •  Compost/Mulch. Compost materials provide key nutrients for the garden's plants. Many
       community gardens have a communal compost bin that members can use.  The bin may take a
       season to produce usable compost, so additional materials made need to be purchased or donated.
    •  Fencing. Most community gardens have fencing around the perimeter of the garden. This is to
       designate the boundaries of the garden and to deter vandalism. Many gardens have gates and  only
       provide keys to members.
    •  Tools. Tools are a necessary part of any gardening endeavor. The community garden can

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5 National City, CA               January 2011

       maintain a communal set of tools that are kept on site or members can share and/or trade their
       own personal tools. Garden membership agreements should specify if members are responsible
       for providing their own tools.
    •  Watering. It is crucial that the site have access to ample water for gardening. This can be
       accomplished through rain barrels or access to the public water supply. If the garden is
       communal, watering  should be assigned as a task on the rotating schedule.
    •  Weeding. If the garden is divided into individual plots, each member should be responsible for
       keeping their plot weeded. This should be outlined in the membership agreement. If the garden is
       organic, the membership agreement should also stipulate that pesticides are not allowed. If the
       garden is communal, the weeding responsibility should be assigned as a task on the rotating
    •  Common spaces (e.g., paths). Common spaces can be extensive (e.g., benches, fruit orchards,
       children's play area)  or minimal (paths). Regardless of their size, all garden members should take
       responsibility for their maintenance.


Community gardens can greatly  benefit from partnerships and/or sponsor groups. While not necessary,
they can provide much needed support in the beginning stages. These groups can help provide funding,
donate supplies, such as seeds and tools, and provide volunteers to help put up fencing, outline paths, etc.
Potential partners or groups could include:

    •  Schools
    •  Farmer's markets
    •  Food pantry
    •  Churches
    •  Other community gardens
    •  Local garden centers or clubs

Partnerships with schools are particularly advantageous because the garden can become an educational
tool for neighborhood children and foster interest in healthy eating. Many foundations and county health
departments have also provided funding to gardens that are associated with schools. In El Granada,
California, the HEAL program uses donated farmland as a teaching tool for agriculture and sustainable
food practices ( Farmer's markets, food pantries and  churches can also
provide an outlet for excess food production. Nearby community gardens, garden centers and garden
clubs can offer invaluable mentoring for new community gardens. These groups can help with training
and offer advice and support  during set-up.

Food Distribution Arrangements

Before the garden begins to produce food, the steering committee and members should agree on how the
food will be distributed. While food may not be the only items planted in the garden, distribution should
be considered regardless. With individual plots, members will most likely use their food production for
personal use. However, if the garden is communal, there are a number of methods of distribution.
Members could receive a basket of food on a weekly basis or, if equal distribution is not a concern,
members could take what they need. Unwanted food could be sold at local farmers markets, donated to a
food bank, or provided to school cafeterias.

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5 National City, CA              January 2011

Habitat  Restoration  Recommendations

Habitat Restoration Summary
A key feature of the Westside TOD Project site is Paradise Creek, a tidal salt water marsh that bisects the
entire length of the property. The Creek has undergone extensive community-led habitat restoration over
the past 15 years, including cleanup days, native species planting, and the creation of an educational park.
The following information provides framework for moving forward on habitat restoration at Paradise
Creek and throughout National City, as well as specific recommendations for next steps.

Overall Approach: Ten Tenets of Habitat Restoration
Ecological restoration of the urban and post-industrial landscape should strive to maximize habitat
function while creating a self-sustaining ecosystem. From the initial design phase to the future longevity
of the site, several guidelines outline the core considerations required for an effective restoration.
Specifically, the restoration approach follows a set often tenets:

    1.  Target selection. The restored site must complement adjacent and regional ecosystems and
       provide habitat for native fauna of interest.
    2.  Substrate selection. A proper substrate should be selected that favors the establishment of native
       plant species while preventing the colonization of invasive, exotic species.  To achieve this,
       frequently low nutrient soils are selected—not to meet the ideal growing requirements for
       planned species—but to give them a competitive advantage over weedy species.
    3.  Hydrologic understanding. The hydrologic regime of a restored site should mimic the ideal
       surface water, ground water, and soil moisture regimes found at reference sites of the same
       ecosystem type.
    4.  Light regime understanding. High light levels provide the greatest opportunity for multi-layered
       development of plant communities and low light levels allow for the establishment of
       microclimates for certain target organisms.
    5.  Native, diverse plant selection. Only native plants should be selected (when possible, source
       plants grown from local seed stock to preserve plant genotypes). A diversity of plants should be
       used to maximize biodiversity. However, selected species should be dominated by hardy species
       with a wide range of soil, water, and light requirements to insure success. More delicate species
       should be added to the plant list to increase diversity.
    6.  Construction practices and timing. The proper techniques and sequencing for construction must
       be considered during the design process. For example, planting should occur early in the growing
       season, with water level controlled if planting in the spring.
    7.  Succession as a tool. Ecosystems are dynamic and changes to soils, hydrology, light, and plants
       can be expected. Thus, carefully designed and built systems can influence the trajectory of
       succession, attracting the appropriate species to the site.
    8.  Adaptive management and maintenance. For a restoration to be successful in the long-term,
       ongoing monitoring, maintenance, and an adaptive management approach that responds to
       unanticipated events is critical.
    9.  Protection from predation and herbivory. It is particularly important during the establishment
       of a restored ecosystem that protection in the form of fencing and water fowl barriers be
       temporarily installed for the first growing season.
    10. Inclusion and stewardship from the community. Community stewardship and educational
       programs are a critical component of successful, urban restoration. People are more likely to
       protect and respect restorations when they have had involvement in its creation and maintenance.

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5 National City, CA
January 2011
                                 Figure 14: Example Habitat Restoration
  San Dieguito Lagoon serves as a precedent site because of its proximity (30 miles north of Paradise Creek) and
                      makeup ofintertidal salt marsh and transitional salt marsh habitat.

                              Data source: San Dieguito Habitat Restoration -


Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5 National City, CA
January 2011
Application of Tenets to National City
The ten tenet approach can guide the restoration/creation of habitat within National City. The effort
should start with the consideration of the regional context. In particular, intertidal habitats are important
target ecosystems that provide the link between terrestrial and aquatic systems, from the ocean to the
foothills. If suitable coastal and inland habitat is protected, restored and/or created, several endangered
and threatened species have potential to utilize the habitat for stopover, foraging and nesting grounds.
Within San Diego County, the arroyo toad, California gnatcatcher, California least tern, California red-
legged frog, least Bell's Vireo, light-footed clapper rail, San Diego fairy shrimp, southwestern willow
flycatcher, and western snowy plover represent only a portion of the many threatened and endangered
species requiring intact, diverse habitat for survival.

National City exhibits low, middle and high intertidal salt marsh habitat with the upland edge of the salt
marsh (above the direct influence of tidal water) transitioning to typical coastal scrub vegetation. Salt-
tolerant Pacific cordgrass is dominant in the low marsh zone, adapted to twice-daily tidal inundation,
while pickleweed is found in the middle and high marsh where it can withstand only a brief period of
flooding. The transition zone between salt marsh and upland has a specific set of soil and hydrology
regimes not found in other ecosystems. Prairie bulrush and southern cattail thrive in these brackish water
conditions. The coastal sage scrub plant community dominates further upland and occurs on flat or gently
sloping areas adjacent to drainages.  Indicator plant species include black sage, sagebrush, flattop
buckwheat, coyote bush, laurel sumac,  and bush sunflower.

                                     Figure 15: Paradise Creek
Within the regional scale, National City lies adjacent to upland chaparral habitat found along the coastal
terraces, plains and foothills of the Pacific coast. The chaparral plant community consists of drought-
tolerant plants adapted to mild, wet winters, cool, dry summers, and periodic fires that allow germination
of seeds. The upland of Southern California may also include pockets of valley grassland adjacent to and

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5 National City, CA              January 2011

often mixed in with chaparral and coastal sage scrub. Grasslands occupy deep, mostly well-drained soils
in hot, interior valleys, often on south-facing slopes but more typically found on flatter land. Valley
grassland is dominated by several perennial bunch grass species and many common wildflowers
including the California poppy, blue-eyed grass, lupines, and asters. Restoration of chaparral or grassland
ecosystems is not being suggested; however, understanding these ecosystems and the fauna that they
support is critical in predicting how restored ecosystems will interact with the larger region.

In addition to identifying the target ecosystems, species, plant communities, and hydrology and soil
regimes, an ecological restoration within National City must include adaptive management and
maintenance. An adaptive management plan should be developed and followed to address issues as they
arise and to make more effective decisions, enhancing the long-term viability of the site. Further, short-
term intensive maintenance strategies will ensure the establishment of an ecosystem and long-term
maintenance strategies will guide the trajectory of ecosystem succession.

The final tenet calls for the community to continue to take ownership as caretakers  and stewards of the
site. The restoration and ongoing maintenance of the site can serve as  an educational tool and generate
local involvement.  For example, community members can become educated about the workings of the
site and help to prevent litter by fostering stewardship while local volunteers can be responsible for trash
This report provides National City, California with guidance for building a livable community through
sustainable remediation, consensus-driven open space creation, and habitat restoration. Together they
provide an approach that will guide the City in selecting options that address the site's environmental
impacts, but consider and preserve the site's assets and reflect the community's desires. Through these
three aspects, the City, the future Westside TOD Project developers, and the community can come
together to create and build a project that enhances the sustainability of both National City and the
Westside neighborhood. This Pilot demonstrates the commitment EPA, DOT and HUD have in
promoting and fostering existing neighborhoods and communities, while leveraging investment that
protects the environment and provides more sustainable choices.


Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5  National City, CA
                                                     January 2011
Appendix A: Active  Recreation Images
   Climbing Wall                Splash Area                  Mulch Surface                Sand Surface
    Image via Flickr. courtesy ofamboo who?.     Image via Flic/rr, courtesy ofshelneir!9    Image via Flickr, courtesy ofcdsesnims.
Basketball Court
Rubber Surface                Slides
 Image via Flickr, courtesy oj'Rubberecycle.
   Seesaw                     Link to Existing Paths
     Image via Flickr. courtesy ofdbggl9''9.
                          Play Area
Appendix A

Partnership for Sustainable Communities EPA Brownfield Pilot o*5 National City, CA
                                       January 2011
Appendix  B: Community  Garden Images
  Compost Bins
                                  Individual Plots
        Image via Fhcki: cuwr/e.vv o/Daqitalla muneru.
                                 loot Shed
                                 Image w« Fhckr, courtesy ofLa.Calhvl',qtie.
  Rain Barrels
Year-round Growing Structure
                                                                   Communal Garden
                                                Image coui'tesy ol Pax In Terrti.
Appendix B