The Fort Ord Reuse Authority accepted the transfer Tuesday of 3,300 acres of the one-time infantry training base, still believed to be littered with unexploded ordnance.
The Army will continue to fund the cleanup of the base, which opened in 1917.
Local officials say they believe private contractors can finish the cleanup in five to seven years, compared to 15 to 25 years expected if the project stayed under Army control.
The 28,000-acre base was officially closed in 1994, four years after being declared a Superfund site.
Redevelopment plans include 12,000 housing units for 35,000 residents.