Where is Fort Ord located?
Fort Ord is located in Northern Monterey County generally between the cities of Monterey to the Southeast and Salinas to the Northeast. It borders Monterey Bay to the West and extends from the City of Monterey in the South to the City of Marina in the North and to the Salinas River to the East encompassing 45 square miles and covering over 28,000 acres.
What is the "Fort Ord Reuse Authority" and what is its purpose?
The Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA) is responsible for the oversight of Monterey Bay area economic recovery from the closure of and reuse planning of the former Fort Ord military base. The former Fort Ord was/is located on the California coastline near the Monterey Peninsula consisting of 45 square miles/28,000 acres.

FORA implements this legislatively mandated mission by overseeing replacement land use; assuring compliance with adopted measures; removing physical barriers to reuse; financing and constructing major components of the required infrastructure and basewide demands; and protecting identified environmental reserves. FORA exercises its planning, financing, and monitoring responsibilities under state law authority to meet these objectives in the best interest of the Northern Monterey Bay Community.

The Fort Ord closure announcement occurred in 1991, generating a mixture of disbelief, economic impacts and excitement about potential reuse. The Army base had been part of the history of Monterey County on the Monterey Peninsula since 1917. Within months, a series of meetings were initiated to discuss recovery from the significant closure impacts by creating a “vision” for reuse. The meetings included broad community participation including residents, businesses, government, special districts, and others. From those meetings, it was agreed that reuse should focus on Education, Environment, and Economic Development ("the three E's of Fort Ord Reuse").

Initial efforts to organize governance for reuse faltered. Senator Henry Mello (deceased) sponsored special legislation to establish a local agency charged with the task of planning, financing, and implementing reuse. That agency was entitled the “Fort Ord Reuse Authority” (FORA), formed in 1994. FORA has a governing body of 13 voting members and 12 non-voting members, and is comprised of representatives from cities, the county, special districts, public educational institutions, the military, and state and federal legislators.
What is planned for reuse of the former Fort Ord area?
The Base Reuse Plan broadly defines the type of uses that can occur on the former Fort Ord and designates general areas where the different uses can occur. It is similar to a city or county general plan document. Individual development projects are not planned and approved by FORA — by law, that responsibility and authority lies with the land use jurisdictions (cities and county) that will receive the property. FORA does have the responsibility to assure that all approved jurisdiction land use projects are consistent with the Base Reuse Plan, through a "consistency determination” process.

The Reuse Plan provides for a wide range of uses — education; residential; visitor-serving; recreation; open space; habitat conservation for endangered species of plant and wildlife; retail, office, commercial and light industrial; and areas for community service facilities. The Plan requires improvements that must occur and mitigations for uses that will occur — such as replacement of old infrastructure including water and sewer systems, roads, utility and communication systems, and other infrastructure that is either antiquated, sub-standard or both. In addition, there will be improvements to support regional transportation and transit systems and a reclaimed water distribution network constructed.

The Plan also requires that large areas for habitat conservation and management be set aside and it requires removal of unexploded ordnance and munitions, as well as remediation of lands formerly used for military purposes. Many of the existing military structures, such as old barracks and storage buildings, will be removed and replaced with new uses as the reuse process moves forward.
What specific projects are currently planned and how will they address the need for housing and jobs in this region?
Over the past several years local city and county land use jurisdictions and FORA have been collaborating on the location, processing, and approval for a number of major reuse projects. These projects cannot singlehandedly solve the regional need for new jobs and new housing, but they provide a significant share of the solutions.

Military Housing -- During the Fort Ord base closure process, the U.S. Army retained certain properties for its own use. It anticipated a continued military need for housing within Monterey County, given the presence of military facilities including the Defense Language Institute, the Naval Postgraduate School, and Fort Hunter-Liggett. A partnership between the U.S. Army and the development firm, Clark Pinnacle, to rebuild the Ord Military Community (the Residential Communities Initiative — “RCI”) located just north of Seaside Highlands, is an example of the production of attractive new housing for locally assigned military. As military personnel relocate into the new or renovated military units, this movement can allow apartments and homes in the community to become available for general occupancy.

Former military-housing units have also been converted for use at CSU Monterey Bay for students and faculty; others have become headquarters for various non-profit, social service, and agency programs and offices; a few units have been made available for below median - income civilian use.

Existing and New Housing Programs -- Local communities have approved new housing in the Marina Heights, Marina and Seaside University Village, Seaside Resort, and East Garrison project areas — as well as planned housing for faculty/staff by CSUMB.

Although slowed in recent years, reuse projects continue to move ahead at the former Fort Ord will provide over 35% of housing at below-market cost ranges, thousands of new jobs, and will be built in phases over the next 10 years. Each residential project includes on-site housing at below market rates and/or accommodations for below-market rate housing options. In addition to new jobs generated within the planned projects, new jobs will also be created in what are being called "support services" - including positions for police, fire, teachers, government, and many other "behind the scenes" services within our region.

Marina Heights - This residential project will provide 1,050 single-family and townhomes within the City of Marina’s portion of the former Fort Ord. Jobs will be created during construction as well as in various maintenance and support services.

The Dunes - Designed in phases, this mixed-use retail, commercial and residential project is planned to include 1,237 housing units including apartments, townhomes and single-family residences, as well as the creation of new jobs in retail, commercial, professional, hospitality, recreation, and support services for the region.

Seaside Resort - This resort project with hotel and golf course also includes timeshare units and affordable housing within close proximity. Jobs include positions in retail, commercial, hospitality, administration, recreation, and support services.

East Garrison Village - This 1,470-unit planned community will provide a variety of single-family homes, apartments, and townhomes; recreational and community areas; and an artist live-and-work “downtown” residential and visitor-serving area. Job creation includes retail, commercial, professional, and support services.

FORA has invested more than $400,000 in its regionwide efforts to address the workforce housing price gap, including evaluation of options to increase workforce housing and adoption of measures to increase the number of below-market units on the former Fort Ord.

An independent countywide financial Community Housing Trust is moving forward in fundraising efforts to help finance down-payment assistance for affordable and below market rate workforce housing, and provision of pre-development loans for development of affordable housing projects.

The housing trust will serve as a financial resource, not a housing developer, to assist qualified workforce buyers with incomes in the 0-180% of median income for Monterey County to achieve home purchases in the region. Other existing financial assistance programs are typically restricted to serve persons in income levels of 0-120% of median. Raising the level to 180% can address the needs of many employees within the County, including teachers, fire and police, medical and health care professionals, and many other mid-level income workers who can afford a mortgage but do not qualify under existing private and public financing programs.
Why are reuse activities and projects taking so long?
Projects and base cleanup activities have been ongoing since the closure. Many are not visible to the general public as they are some distance from main thoroughfares. Several projects and programs are already operational on land that has been directly conveyed by the Army to an organization or agency by a Public Benefit Conveyance (PBC). Most of these projects/programs are run by non-profit organizations, government agencies, and educational institutions. Other projects have moved ahead by special conveyances such as: CSU Monterey Bay and the UC MBEST center and the Seaside Golf Courses.

What is taking time is the process for removing munitions and explosives of concern that are preventing the transfer of remaining lands (3,340 acres) to be used for reuse development and managed habitat conservation as outlined in the Base Reuse Plan. Most of these lands are covered under what is called an Economic Development Conveyance (EDC) process. FORA, under an Environmental Services Cooperative Agreement grant from the U.S. Army, has been continuously engaged in the remediation of these lands and anticipates finishing and releiving regulatory clearance in 2015.

Even with an approved Base Reuse Plan, there are numerous legal, regulatory, bureaucratic, and economic barriers to gaining possession of the property, assuring healthy and safe conditions, and securing approvals for planned and approved projects that are within areas for which FORA has oversight responsibility. The process for transferring land to the local jurisdictions involves many and expensive actions to achieve compliance with regulations and Base Reuse Plan requirements. FORA must work with 67 different agencies at all government levels. It is not uncommon to find that requirements of one agency will conflict with requirements of another, making it time consuming, but necessary to negotiate a resolution that is satisfactory to all the parties.

In some instances, delays may also be affected by complaints and lawsuits from interested individuals and others with focused concerns and differ in opinion about actions taken/not taken, or projects approved by the land use jurisdictions. Such litigation has slowed several projects. Early in the reuse process, the U.S. Army was barred from transferring land for 6 years under a court order which settled a dispute on procedural matters not involving the local cities or FORA.

The vacant and developed usable land on Fort Ord cannot be reused until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and State of California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) sign off on clean up and safety issues relative to removal of any Ordnance and Explosives (OE) that might be present. Such sign off has been occurring on a parcel by parcel basis, as provided for in federal and state law.

Even when regulatory approval can be obtained, the U.S. Army must perform certain bureaucratic procedures in order to convey surplus land and properties. These include preparation of a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS) for CERCLA (Super Fund) and OE (Ordnance and Explosives) clean up issues, a Finding of Suitability to Transfer (FOST) or Finding of Suitability to Early Transfer (FOSET) for all parcels. The Army has developed a phased approach for performing this work. This is why FORA has received some of the proposed development areas but is still waiting for Army conveyance of the others.
How is the reuse of the former Fort Ord being financed?
Under California law, FORA and the land use jurisdictions receiving land at the former Fort Ord are responsible for arranging or providing financing of the basewide costs for replacing or constructing new roads, constructing the reclaimed water system(s), conserving selected areas for native habitat, upgrading or replacing other infrastructure systems, and removing/rehabilitating 1,200 former military barrack and other buildings (as required under the Base Reuse Plan, by federal law, or by agreements with the local jurisdictions). To date, the majority of funds for required reuse activity has come from federal, state, and local government grants. As reuse proceeds, local and user fees will provide additional funds, as will fees charged for the development that is planned for the area.
Completed improvements include:
  • Miles of road improvements
  • Square footage of buildings removed
  • Storm drain outfalls removed
What are the main economic barriers to reuse?
Delay and restrictions are probably the most important and costly factors affecting reuse of the former Fort Ord. There is a high demand and short supply of housing and new jobs in the Monterey Bay area. The housing need affects all income ranges. Over the past decade, housing prices have been steadily rising as need for housing far exceeds the housing supply. This is true in many areas of California, and more recently, this trend is also affecting other areas of the United States. It is especially critical within Monterey County and the Monterey Bay Region.

At the same time, development-related costs are rising for planning and site preparation, financing, architectural and engineering, construction, entitlement, fees and assessments, and with various regulatory requirements and restrictions. With prolonged delays, it becomes more difficult to attract investors and developers to the region. The same situation is applicable to job availability and creation. As business costs rise, and when a shortage of acceptable housing at reasonable prices declines, it again becomes more difficult to attract and maintain investors and businesses in the region. The current economic cycle is further exacerbated by delay.
What are the environmental hazard issues at Fort Ord?
Since the beginning of the 20th Century, the former Fort Ord area was used for infantry training, which involved the use of ordnance and explosives. Many buildings on the former military base were constructed using lead based paint, asbestos, and other contaminants no longer permitted by law and must be remediated before reoccupancy or removal. Since most of the structures will have to be removed this will mean a substantial cost to the reuse effort. FORA estimates that it will take 5-7 years (once the process is started) to complete the relocation, rehabilitation, hazard abatement, and demolition removal activities. The U.S. Army has completed a substantial amount of remedial action thus far. Well over $350 million has been spent to clean up various soil, groundwater, and facility contamination, but more funds will be needed to complete the job.
Can I rent a building at Fort Ord for my business?
Some of the existing buildings at Fort Ord are available for rentals through contacting the City of Marina and Seaside. New rentals are now becoming available in the new developments of The Dunes and UC MBEST. Go to our Property & Leasing Information page for a complete list.
Will there be a Veterans Cemetery at Fort Ord?
The Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA) Board of Directors has endorsed establishing the California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery (CCCVC) on the former Fort Ord. Accordingly, the County of Monterey, City of Seaside, and FORA have dedicated and/or will transfer approximately 78 former Fort Ord acres to the State of California to establish the CCCVC.

In 2011, the CA State Legislature amended Military and Veterans Code section 1450.1 directing California Department of Veteran Affairs (CDVA), in cooperation with Seaside, the County, FORA, and others, to design, develop, and construct the CCCVC.

At its January 11, 2013 meeting, the FORA Board authorized consultant services to enable the CCCVC land transfer designated to CDVA. In August 2013, CDVA submitted a formal application for U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs State Cemetery Grant Funding. Since that time, a $2.6 million dollar funding gap between the federal funding and the State of California’s estimated costs of Phase I of the CCCVC was closed through local fundraising and a David and Lucile Packard Foundation grant (total $600,000, support from CA Assembly ($1M), and funding through Governor Jerry Brown ($1M).

The California Department of Veteran Affairs started CCCVC construction fall of 2015. On October 11, 2016, the long awaited Opening Ceremony was held, which included the memorial service and internment of Major William Williams, U.S. Army. Expansion, as yet unfunded, will include 11,500 gravesites in its 20-year build out. For information: www.ccveteranscemetery.org/phase-one The Cemetery contact: Daria.Maher@CalVet.ca.gov, 831-393-9371 and location information: 2900 Parker Flats Road, Seaside, CA 93933
How many housing units on Fort Ord will be "affordable" to the local "workforce"?
There are many housing projects planned for the former Fort Ord. In most cases, California redevelopment law requires that 15% of the units built be affordable, and an overall total of 20% has been adopted by the land use jurisdictions that will receive land on the former Fort Ord. It is currently expected that over 20% of the units on Fort Ord will be below market priced.

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) prepares a chart (each January) showing affordability standards for various regions in the U.S. This information is then used by the county and cities to adjust their criteria for pricing eligibility for rental and for-purchase housing. “Affordable” housing is defined as persons in an income range of 0-120% (very low, low and moderate) of the median income (in Monterey County). “Workforce” housing is defined as persons in an income category of 121-180% of the median income level (in Monterey County).
How can I find out about housing available on Fort Ord?
Federal law does not allow the Army to sell land or housing units to private individuals. Instead, the land is conveyed to FORA, which in turn re-conveys it to the individual city, county, or land use recipient, which is then responsible for planning the housing efforts. In most cases, because housing production requires a large investment of time and money, the jurisdictions are selecting “ Master Developers ” who will assume the burden of building, rehabilitating and marketing the proposed housing. Some of these developers, or occasionally the cities, have established waiting lists for particular housing developments. Go to our Property & Leasing Information page for contact information.

FORA has produced a Property Leasing Contact List, so members of the public and other interested parties can contact the jurisdictions directly, to inquire about housing programs and policies. Generally speaking, if you know the location of a housing project you are interested in, you can call the land recipient jurisdiction (city or County) for information about waiting lists.