The Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA) is responsible for the oversight of Monterey Bay area economic recovery from the closure and reuse planning of the former Fort Ord military base. The former Fort Ord is located on the California coastline near the Monterey Peninsula consisting of 45 square miles/28,000 acres.
FORA implements its’ legislatively mandated mission by overseeing replacement land use; assuring compliance with adopted measures; removing physical barriers; financing and constructing major components of required infrastructure and base-wide demands; and protecting identified environmental reserves. FORA exercises planning, financing, and monitoring responsibilities under state law 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 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.
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.
The Plan also requires 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, are being removed and replaced with new uses as the reuse process moves forward. Please go to our page for more information on Building Removal.
Planned Redevelopment Land Use by percentages of the 27,827 acres:
- Residential: 8%
- Commercial: 4%
- Maritime Industrial: 10%
- Educational: 6%
- Open Space/Recreational: 69%
- Reserved for Federal Use: 3%
As defined by the Base Reuse Plan, the plan goals are to establish a unified open space system which preserves and enhances the natural environment while contributing to the revitalization of the former Fort Ord by providing accessible recreational experiences for residents and visitors alike.
To date, 69% of the 27,827 total acreages are dedicated to recreational/open space. 973 acres were used to create the Fort Ord Dunes State Park and 14,658 acres were dedicated by President Obama for the Fort Ord National Monument. In addition, a Regional Trails Blueprint characterizing a cross-jurisdictional trails plan to link the National Marine Sanctuary, the State Park and National Monument through the emerging new housing and CSUMB campus was approved by the FORA Board of Directors.
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.
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.
Educational Uses - 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; close to 1,000 units have been made available for below median - income civilian use so far.
Existing and New Housing Programs - Local communities have approved new housing in the Sea Haven, The Dunes, and Seaside University Village (“Surplus ll”), Seaside Resort, and East Garrison project areas — as well as planned housing for faculty/staff by CSUMB.
Although slowed due to the recession, reuse projects continue to move ahead at the former Fort Ord and are required to provide over 35% of housing at below-market cost ranges, thousands of new jobs, and are being built in phases over the next few 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 (Sea Haven) - This residential project provides 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. Ten model homes have been built and sales are active.
The Dunes on Monterey Bay - Designed in phases, this mixed-use retail, commercial and residential project includes 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. In addition to 398,000 square feet of new commercial space, the Dunes development has completed more recently more than 200 new units of market rate and 108 units of below market rate housing. In addition 40,000 square feet of fast casual dining opened in 2016-17.
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.
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).
It takes time to remove munitions and explosives of concern that prevent 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, took over from the Army a large chunk of the Army’s responsibilities land completed clean up on those lands over a 7 year period for $ millions less than the Army projected regulatory clearance in 2015. FORA expects with continued reporting and monitoring required through 2027, The Army will continue reporting and monitoring required portions of the Fort Ord National Monument.
Even with an approved Base Reuse Plan, there are numerous legal, regulatory, bureaucratic, and economic barriers to gaining possession of property, assuring healthy and safe conditions, and securing approvals for planned and approved projects within areas for which FORA has oversight responsibility. The process for transferring land to local jurisdictions involves 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 satisfactory resolution of disputes.
In some instances, delays have been caused by lawsuits filed by interested individuals with concerns or against projects approved by the land use jurisdictions. Such litigation has slowed several projects and land transfers to FORA. Early in the reuse process, the U.S. Army was barred from transferring land for 6 years under a court order that did not involve the local cities or FORA.
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. Approval of the Habitat Conservation Plan has been delayed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and the State of CA Fish and Wildlife Department as they refine their requirements for approval. We are expecting those approvals in 2017-18.
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 others.
- Miles of road improvements
- Square footage of buildings removed
- Storm drain outfalls removed
At the same time, development-related costs are rising for planning and site preparation, financing, architectural and engineering, construction, entitlement, fees and assessments, and there are 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 there is a shortage of acceptable housing at reasonable prices, it becomes difficult to attract and maintain investors and businesses in the region. To deal with this syndrome, the FORA Board adopted a vigorous Economic Development effort in 2015 and is engaged on many fronts. For more information on FORA’s Economic Development program visit OrdForward.org.
Most city ordinances and codes do not allow individuals to rehabilitate buildings without bringing them up the latest health and safety code. The federal government does not allow for the giving away of land or buildings for less than Fair Market Value. In the 1990’s some land and buildings were made available to non-profit agencies and homeless shelter providers like the Veterans Transition Center, Shelter Outreach Plus, and Interim, Inc., and Monterey County Housing Authority received property to use for transitional housing efforts. We are unfortunately not able to provide properties for individuals or dispose of properties without Fair Market Value being paid. Some of the existing buildings at Fort Ord are available for temporary rentals through contacting the City of Marina and Seaside. New rentals are now becoming available in the new developments of The Dunes, UC MBEST, and East Garrison. Go to our Property & Leasing Information page for a complete list.
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. 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 the State of CA Assembly ($1M), and funding through Governor Jerry Brown ($1M).
The funding efforts enabled the California Department of Veteran Affairs to start CCCVC construction fall of 2015. On October 11, 2016, the long awaited Opening Ceremony was held, which included the memorial service and inurnment of Major William Williams U.S. Army. Expansion and Phase II are expected to include 11,500 gravesites over a 20-year build out. Location and mailing address: 2900 Parker Flats Road, Seaside, CA 93955. A detailed map and directions can be found HERE.For information and how to contribute much needed funds: www.ccveteranscemetery.org/phase-one
In addition, the federal government broke ground and built the William F. Gourley Department of Defense/Veterans Administration Medical Clinic, a new Veterans Clinic in 2016 adjacent to Marina Dunes and the new Cinemark Movie Complex that opened in 2015.