Making Streets into Places in Oakland
On July 1st, 2014, the Oakland City Council unanimously approved the Broadway Valdez District Specific Plan, which calls for 1,800 new homes—many of which will be affordable to low- and middle-income residents in a time when these families are being priced out of transit-accessible neighborhoods in Oakland.
Broadway Valdez has been a place of long term and deep commitment by GCC and all of our partners – Greenbelt Alliance and EBHO in particular; GCC committed over $350,000 through grants and technical assistance over six years. The Plan represents an important milestone in building towards GCC’s goal that half of all new housing through 2030 is located near transit and affordable to all incomes. And it sets the stage in what we hope will be the first in a series of progressive Plan adoptions in neighborhoods surrounding downtown Oakland, including the Lake Merritt Station Area Plan.
Broadway Valdez also holds a special place in my heart as the place that lies at the center of many of the communities where I’ve lived and worked since coming to Oakland several years ago. I come here for groceries and Friday night drinks; I regularly use every single transportation option (walking, biking, busing and BARTing, and driving); and I’ve wished it felt more like the heart of a community and less like place on the edges.
With this Plan adopted by City Council, Broadway Valdez can become that place.
More housing in the area will increase the demand for shops and retail along Broadway, and affordable housing will ensure the community remains a diverse place for all kinds of families. In addition, the Plan calls for stronger anti-displacement protections for residents and commits the City to exploring new mechanisms to raise the essential money necessary to support affordable housing and other community benefits across the city. The Plan encourages quality job creation, including living-wage and green jobs, local hiring, and apprenticeship programs. The Plan also succeeds at prioritizing housing, shops, and community amenities over parking, and calls for significant improvements to make the neighborhood more pedestrian- and bike-friendly—a place to go and stay.
It’s a big win for GCC, particularly given that early versions of the plan called for car-centric, big-box retail. GCC partners, though the Better Broadway Coalition, spent six years working with the local community and city staff to reshape the plan into one that would revitalize the neighborhood as part of burgeoning downtown Oakland with independent and national retail, affordable homes, better transit options, walkable streets, and sustainable design.
Thank you the core GCC site team, Greenbelt Alliance and EBHO, and the rest of the Better Broadway Coalition partners and all those involved in the passage of this plan including: Walk Oakland Bike Oakland, Sierra Club, Alameda County Building Trades Council, Valdez Plaza Resident Council, Westlake Christian Terrace Resident Council, California Nurses Association, TransForm, Alameda Labor Council, Urban Habitat, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, League of Conservation Voters of the East Bay, and ULTRA Oakland.
Read a full update from Joel Devalcourt on Greenbelt Alliance’s PlaceMatters blog: Oakland just committed to growing smarter.