Cashin’s Field developers to check for toxic substances in Nevada City |

Cashin’s Field developers to check for toxic substances in Nevada City

Developers for Nevada City’s proposed 56-unit affordable housing project, Cashin’s Field, are preparing a voluntary cleanup agreement that will investigate the potential for toxic substances at the site, according to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.

According to project proponent Gus Becerra, executive director for the Regional Housing Authority, the project went through one environmental site assessment with no issues. However, after the assessment was completed a public inquiry provided to the state raised concerns over the potential for sulpheret works from previous mining activity, which prompted a second assessment.

“The state reached out to us and we provided the Phase 1 (environmental site assessment) report to the state of California and then they reviewed it and then from that review came a few more tests that they want us to do. So from that point on we handed it off to our consultant, who’s working with the state to figure out the scope of the testing that’s needed, get a cost proposal and then go from there and present the results of that testing to the state for them to review,” Becerra said. “At this point it’s still very premature. I mean, all we’re doing at the moment is trying to address a public inquiry. We don’t expect any contamination, but we’re going to address the public inquiry and make sure people are satisfied with the test results.”

Sulphuret works, described as a process for extracting gold from mined ore using sulphides, is associated with soil containing elevated concentrations of arsenic and lead. For example, in an unrelated project, a Removal Action Workplan sought to remediate sulpheret work activity at the proposed Sierra Terrace Site in Grass Valley, and required the removal of contaminated soil and construction of passive venting systems at the site.

Once a voluntary cleanup agreement is reached, which will determine the scope of the assessment, an investigation will look into soil samplings to see if any containments of concern stemming from the county’s legacy mining activities are present on the Cashin’s Field property.

“If elevated concentrations of metals are found, then a clean-up will be required before (Department of Toxic Substances Control) can certify the property as safe for residential development,” said Barbara Zumwalt, public information officer for the toxic substances control agency.


Becerra said the environmental review is routine, though the public inquiry that launched it is a first for him.

“In all the development projects I’ve ever done, we never had one like this that went to the state of California,” he said. “In the past (environmental site assessments) have been sufficient.”

According to the toxic substances control agency’s website, an investigation could lead to a finding that no further action is required, a finding that a land use covenant is needed before further development, or that long-term stewardship is needed.

If the department determines remediation is needed, there will be several options for dealing with any toxic substances, depending on the severity of the finding.

Becerra said he does not expect the investigation to affect the project’s timeline. The development is hoping to secure funding through state tax credit allocations, set to be announced in October. If funded, they will have six months to close construction financing.

“We don’t expect any project delays at the moment,” he said. “The testing that the state is wanting us to do and reviews and the whole process should not delay the closing of the financing, if the project is awarded financing.”

Due to state laws imposed on cities that didn’t add the minimum amount of affordable housing units required, Nevada City only had 90 days to approve the project planned for 170 Ridge Road and could only do so based on objective standards found in its municipal code.

Because of the law, Senate Bill 35, a California Environmental Quality Act review was not necessary.

The 4.6-acre site is set to host six apartment buildings spanning up to three stories, a community center with public-facing patio, open green space, and outdoor/play areas. If the development is funded through tax credits as originally intended and the project is not delayed by potential remediation, construction is set to begin in the spring, with residents able to move in summer 2022.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email or call 530-477-4229.

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