Alternatives Needed for Sanitation’s Clean Water Campus

LA WATCHDOG - The Bureau of Sanitation is considering the development of its Clean Water Campus, a 159,000 square foot facility with a 750 car parking facility, that is expected to cost more than $100 million.

  The new office complex is needed to accommodate additional staff that is required to meet its expanded responsibilities for the processing of wastewater and stormwater. 

The plan is to locate the Clean Water Campus on 1.5 acre parcel of City owned land at 303 North San Fernando Road in a semi-industrial area of Lincoln Heights, 2.6 miles south of its outgrown leased offices in Glassell Park. As part of the development, the City will acquire an adjoining acre parking lot from Goodwill Industries for $6 million. 

As part of the agreement with Goodwill, the City will enter into exclusive negotiations for twelve months with a Development Team selected by Goodwill to design, construct, finance, and maintain the building.  The Development Team consists of Atwater Infrastructure Partners LLC, Goodwill, Lowe Enterprises, Swinerton, and Johnson Controls. But there is no available information on the Development Team in the Council File (18-0555)

However, several knowledgeable real estate people have indicated that the City is overpaying for the Goodwill parking lot, especially since it is an irregular shaped lot that borders on the heavily used Gold Line railroad tracks.  On the other hand, Sanitation claims that an independent appraisal indicates that $6 million is the fair market value. 

The selection of the location in this semi-industrial area of the City is based on the fact that the City owns the land, not that it is the optimal location for the Clean Water Campus.  But this parcel has environmental issues and other sewer related drawbacks that impact its utility and fair market value.  

This is a case of the million dollar tail wagging the $100 million dollar dog.  

The City will justify its location by saying that the Clean Water Campus will spur commercial and affordable residential development near the Los Angeles River, create numerous jobs, and increase the City’s tax base.  But whether these benefits will actually happen is questionable, especially given our politicians numerous unmet promises in the past.  

Rather than proceeding with the current $100 million plan for the Clean Water Campus, Sanitation should not only reach out to the local Lincoln Heights community, but solicit alternative developers and locations to make sure that the City is getting the best bang for the buck.


(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council.  He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate.  He can be reached at:  [email protected])