Oakland, Concord smart places to grow

Blanca Torres

The Greenbelt Alliance, a Bay Area advocate of open spaces and vibrant communities, released a research report called “Grow Smart Bay Area” in which it outlines specific areas including Oakland and Concord that are ripe for infill development.

The alliance found that the Bay Area’s population will grow by at least two million in the next 25 years and all of that growth can be accomodated in existing cities — no need for more sprawl in places like east Contra Costa and San Joaquin counties.

Infill development refers to building new structures in places that have already been built out. The idea of making cities more dense has gained significant traction as people look for ways to commute less and have more amenities near home.

In Oakland, Greenbelt points to the San Pablo Avenue corridor that runs from Interstate 980 to Emeryville. In Concord, the alliance suggests saying goodbye to strip-centers and large parking lots and saying hello to walkable streets, multi-family housing developments and more retail along Willow Pass Road.

It’s good not just to talk about smart growth, but to also look at ways of implementing the concept. The next step is for cities and developers to step and make those visions and plans a reality.

One example is Oakland’s Uptown neighborhood where major residential developments like Forest City’s Uptown apartments, Signature Properties’ Broadway Grand and Essex Property Trust’s The Grand have added hundreds of new units and spurred dozens of new restaurants and bars in areas that used to empty parking lots and boarded up buildings.

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