Recently, several Miami parks have been discovered to be contaminated. Residents and park users are asking, “How could the government not have known that this park was contaminated?” The answer lies in a lack of appropriate environmental due diligence and stewardship.

When for-profit developers purchase land, they conduct at least a minimum level of environmental due diligence to protect against unwelcome surprises. Generally, the developer engages an environmental consultant to conduct an investigation known as a Phase I environmental site assessment. Phase I ESAs are the backbone of environmental due diligence for commercial real estate, including large tracts to be developed with single-family homes. A Phase I helps the developer determine the value of the land and whether the land is suitable for the planned development. More importantly, a Phase I helps the developer anticipate additional costs that may be incurred to address environmental issues, costs which can easily exceed the value of a severely-impacted property.