Association of Bay Area Governments Metropolitan Transportation Commission Bay Conservation and Development Commission Bay Area Air Quality Management District
Equitable Development

Best Practices in Equitable Development: San Francisco · Oakland · Richmond

In the Cities of San Francisco, Oakland, and Richmond, community-based organizations and city departments won regional funds to increase equity and address displacement as part of their ongoing planning efforts.

A 2-page handout for Planners on limiting displacement

Development Without Displacement Report Final Development Without Dispacement Report

Table of Contents:
  1. Introduction
  2. Displacement and TOD Dynamics in the Bay Area
    • Demographic Shifts during the Boom years 1990-2000
    • Rising Incomes in Transit-Oriented Areas
    • Low-Income households Moved to Less Transit-Oriented Areas
  3. Equitable Transit Oriented Development Strategies
  4. Case Studies of Community Partnerships
    • City of Oakland and Asian Health Services
    • Richmond Equitable Development Initiative
    • The Mission Economic Development Agency
  5. Regional Toolbox: TOD Components of Existing ABAG and MTC Programs
  6. Potential Future Regional Actions
The FOCUS Program is committed to ensuring that FOCUS-related investments are distributed through the region in a balanced and fair way. Bay Area residents should have a choice of locations in the region where they can find an affordable home in a walkable neighborhood, with access to good schools and jobs. Low-income residents in the region currently struggle between the high cost of housing and the high costs of transportation. The intent of FOCUS is to reduce these costs by creating more opportunities for residents to live in walkable areas near high-quality transit service.

When major transit investments spur new development, low-income residents can face evictions, loss of community or cultural centers, or pressure to sell their homes. In February 2008, through an Environmental Justice Grant from Caltrans, ABAG began a Development without Displacement program to increase regional and local understanding of gentrification and displacement, and in particular increase awareness of equitable development policies that jurisdictions can use to capture the benefits of new growth for their current residents. Regional Priority Development Areas, overlay with concentrations of Non-White and Low Income Residents

The map to the right shows that 40% of the region's Priority Development Areas are located in communities of color or in low-income neighborhoods. (Please right-click on the map to download a full-size, printable copy.) Communities of color have 70% or more households that are African American, Asian American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, or Multi-Racial. In low income areas, 30% or more of the households earn below 200% of the federal poverty level. In every neighborhood, FOCUS supports an inclusive, equitable development framework and public benefit planning.

Led by ABAG, the grant also funded work by two consultants, the Center for Community Innovation at the University of California - Berkeley and the national organization PolicyLink, as well as three anti-displacement engagement processes in the cities of Oakland, Richmond and San Francisco.

ABAG has partnered with PolicyLink to release an Equitable Development in Transit-Oriented Development Toolkit reflecting the unique conditions of transit-oriented neighborhoods. Since combined housing and transportation costs can make up the majority of a household's expenses, creating and maintaining affordable housing near public transit helps make the Bay Area an affordable place to live. For cities that are already building TOD, the full Equitable Development Toolkit presents a broader selection of policies, from affordable housing to commercial revitalization, that both advocates and local governments can use to connect low-income residents and workers to the benefits of new growth.

The Center for Community Innovation at UC Berkeley (CCI) has used census data to map which FOCUS Priority Development Areas have gentrified or are likely to gentrify over the coming years. Gentrification is defined as

  • Housing price appreciation greater than the regional average
  • Increase in educational attainment greater than the regional average
  • Income at 40th percentile in starting year; and
  • Central city location
The purpose of this work to highlight areas where transit-oriented development may have been successful in spurring the local economy but indirect displacement due to rising property values is also a concern. Census tract level data is available. The CCI report locates areas at risk for future displacement, while past trends are described in the Displacement and TOD Dynamics section in the draft Development Without Dispacement Report, above. The CCI report is available at Census tract level data is also available.

ABAG has been involved in past efforts that focus on specific equity-related issues, such as schools, healthy food access, and job creation.

For more information, please contact Marisa Raya, ABAG Regional Planner, at 510.464.7926 or

Best Practices in Equitable Development: Engaging and Supporting Low-income Communities of Color in Planning

In the Cities of San Francisco, Oakland, and Richmond, community-based organizations and city departments won regional funds to improve equity in their existing plans. Here are some of the planning projects they created:

San Francisco

The City of San Francisco and the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) established a multi-part program to secure a minority-dominated commercial street surrounded by transit-oriented development. The program included a survey and education for local business owners, commercial lease workshops in Spanish, and a detailed examination of area zoning and design policies to limit the displacement of local busineeses.
  1. Project Website:
  2. Recommended Approaches for considering Small Businesses in Zoning (SF Planning Department)
  3. Commercial Lease Negotiation Booklet (MEDA) El Contrato De Arrendamiento Comercial (Lease Negotiation Booklet in Spanish)

Final Report on the Lake Merrit Station Area Plan Engagement Process The City of Oakland and Asian Health Services, a health care provider for Oakland’s Chinatown, engaged over 1000 Chinatown residents and workers in the Lake Merritt Station Area Plan. Many participants did not speak English; despite this obstacle, they collaborated on a set of priorities for the upcoming plan and secured seats on a Stakeholders’ Committee that will monitor the planning process. Richmond

The City of Richmond and the Richmond Equitable Development Initiative (REDI) held a number of public meetings and a summit on foreclosures and creating long-term, stable and affordable housing. REDI prepared this report to show how the national crisis is impacting communities in Richmond, California and to emphasize the need for solutions that minimize this critical situation. A second report outlines how a community land trust (CLT) could be created in Western Contra Costa County to acquire and rehabilitate vacant bank-owned foreclosed homes. The City of Richmond passed a Just Cause Ordinance to protect tenants of foreclosed homes, and incorporated a number of sophisticated housing strategies into a federally-funded Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
  2. "Creating a Community Land Trust to Acquire Foreclosed Properties: Stabilizing Neighborhoods and Creating Permanently Affordable Housing - Western Contra Costa County, CA"