Week ending October 6, 2017
H.R.1547 – Udall Park Land Exchange Completion Act
The purpose of H.R. 1547 is to provide for the unencumbering of title to non-Federal land owned by the city of Tucson, Arizona, for purposes of economic development by conveyance of the Federal reversionary interest to the City.
In 1980, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a Recreation and Public Purposes lease for approximately 173 acres of land to the City of Tucson for the purpose of operating a public park. As a part of the lease, BLM included a reversionary interest that specified it could take back the park if the City no longer used the land for public purposes or if the City used the park for commercial purposes. After acquiring the land through the lease, the City of Tucson began making improvements to the park (named Udall Park) and invested millions of dollars to establish a large community recreation and senior center, swimming pool, walking track, athletic fields and picnic areas.
While making these improvements, the City of Tucson and BLM began negotiating a deal in 1989 to give the City clear title to the park and remove the reversionary interest in exchange for 297 acres of land owned by the City valued at $4 million.\1\ After accepting this land from the City, BLM participated in further land exchanges with other entities to obtain an area that included office buildings for BLM’s Tucson headquarters, and environmentally sensitive parcels in the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area and Empirita Ranch Multi Species Conservation Area.\2\ In addition to the exchange, the City agreed to resolve a long-standing legal dispute between BLM, Browne/Tankersley Trust and Pioneer Trust regarding a sand and gravel trespass on an adjacent parcel of land to the park.\3\ Despite a clear agreement between the City of Tucson and BLM, the City never received clear title to Udall Park even after transferring the 297 acres of land and resolving the trespass issue for BLM.
(Full text of H.R. 1547 congress.gov)
Sponsor: Rep. McSally, Martha [R-AZ-2] (Introduced 03/15/2017)
Status: Passed House /
VOTES and FLOOR ACTION
On Passage: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 401 – 0 (Roll no. 544).
Motion to recommit:
Text of the motion:
COST AND IMPACT
Cost to the taxpayers: CBO estimates that implementing the bill would have no effect on the federal budget.
Pay-as-you-go requirements Because enacting H.R. 1547 would not affect direct spending or revenues, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
Regulatory and Other Impact: H.R. 1547 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
Dynamic Scoring: CBO estimates that enacting the bill would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028.
Tax Complexity: Not applicable to this bill.
Earmark Certification: H.R. 1547 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
Duplication of programs: This bill does not establish or reauthorize a program of the federal government known to be duplicative of another program.
Direct Rule-Making: This bill does not contain any directed rule makings.
Advisory Committee Statement: Data not available
Budget Authority: Data not available
Constitutional Authority: Assumed.
More Bill Information:
H.R. 1547 transfers the reversionary interest associated with Udall Park to the City of Tucson, Arizona (Tucson). Udall Park was originally leased in 1980 to Tucson by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under the Recreation and Public Purposes Act, a program that conveys federal land to local governments and non-profits, free of charge, to establish parks and other allowable public purposes. These conveyances include what is known as reversionary interest, which stipulates that the land must permanently remain in use for a public purpose or ownership reverts back to the United States.
BLM only has the authority to convey reversionary interest if it receives fair market value for the land in question. This is a critical component of the law that ensures fair use of taxpayer owned assets. However, in the case of Udall Park, Tucson executed a land exchange with the BLM to compensate the federal government for the reversionary interest. Unfortunately, Congress never completed the exchange.
At the July 14, 2017, Federal Lands Subcommittee hearing on the bill, Michael Ortega, Tucson City Manager, Arizona, presented testimony regarding the 1989 land exchange between Tucson and the BLM that led to the patent transfer of Udall Park. In exchange for the patent and reversionary interest on Udall Park, the City of Tucson provided the BLM with a 297 acre parcel known as the “Freeman Road Property,” which was then valued at $4 million. As evidence that the land exchange was part of the agreement to transfer the reversionary interest, the testimony points to a 1989 letter from the BLM State Director. The letter recognized the “agreement between the City and Bureau of Land Management regarding Udall Park” and emphasized BLM’s commitment to “support legislative efforts to eliminate the reverter clause.” Elimination of the reversionary interests without payment of fair market value requires an act of Congress. Congress never ratified the 1989 land exchange by eliminating the reversionary interest.
H.R. 1547 honors the federal government’s long forgotten commitment. The unique circumstances of Udall Park justify transferring the reversionary interest without further consideration or compensation.
Raul M. Grijalva,
House Natural Resources
Nanette Diaz Barragan.
Grace F. Napolitano.
- Donald McEachin.
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