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Jeremy Madsen

Impact Report: Helping Cities Grow Smart During the Housing Crisis

More and more residents are feeling the heat from rising housing costs. Greenbelt Alliance has helped two of the Bay Area’s largest cities in addressing the housing crisis in their communities.

Oakland and San Jose adopted plans, which together will create over 4,300 new homes in two downtown neighborhoods. These plans call for a minimum of 600 new homes to be priced within reach of low- and middle-income residents, helping to address the Bay Area’s affordable housing need.

In Oakland, we led community members in shaping the Broadway Valdez District Specific Plan. Under this plan, the city’s busiest transit corridor, commonly called “Auto Row,” will be reinvented with 1,800 new homes, shops, and parks along Broadway between Grand Avenue and I-580.

In San Jose, we helped shape the Diridon Station Area Plan. It envisions a vibrant neighborhood with 2,500 homes around the South Bay’s main transportation hub—affectionately called the “Grand Central Station of the West.” Those living in this neighborhood will have excellent access to Caltrain, Amtrak, buses, and light rail—all at one stop.

Our Impact

These two projects have required years of collaboration and diligence. Greenbelt Alliance saw the plans through changes of elected leaders and city staff and several rounds of community input. Early versions of Oakland’s plan for the Broadway-Valdez District called for car-centric, big-box retail with sprawling parking lots, but we worked with community stakeholders and nonprofit partners for six years to shape the plan into one that would revitalize the neighborhood. In San Jose, Regional Director Michele Beasley organized residents so that the Diridon Station Area Plan reflected their input and had their support. Thanks to Michele’s work, the planning process in San Jose had a level of community engagement that Councilmember Don Rocha called, “the highest I’ve ever seen.”

How These Plans Affect the Bay Area

Oakland and San Jose combined have the most potential in the region to add new homes, create thriving neighborhoods, and prevent sprawl development from consuming our greenbelt. Both of these blueprints for smart growth will support thriving downtown neighborhoods by prioritizing land for homes and shops instead of parking lots and by improving public spaces like sidewalks and plazas.


  • A total of 4,300 new homes for the Bay Area’s two biggest cities
  • 1,800 in Oakland, 2,500 in San Jose

What’s Next

Plans are just the first step. We will now work with city leaders and community members in Oakland and San Jose to ensure the right decisions are made to bring their smart growth blueprints to life. Together with our partners and community members, we will take these plans from words on paper to real homes and neighborhoods that two of our biggest cities can be proud of.

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