We lead advocacy in the Bay Area to enforce the state Surplus Land Act, which requires that affordable homes get built on public land that local governments sell or lease. Surplus public property is an essential resource for creating inclusive development, especially since so much of it is located in areas near transit and employment opportunities. We work with community partners throughout the Bay Area to watchdog implementation of the Surplus Land Act, educate community groups and jurisdictions about the Act’s affordable housing requirements, and pursue enforcement actions when necessary.
For more than a decade, we have worked in partnership with community groups in Oakland to win investment and development that meets the needs of the city’s low-income residents and workers. Our campaigns and coalition work aims to create more homes that families can afford, more protections for tenants facing rising rents, and better wages and stronger workforce development policies for local residents.
When the City of Oakland was ready to sell public land for luxury apartments and zero affordable housing on East 12th Street near Lake Merritt, we partnered with the East 12th Coalition to ensure that the City complied with the state Surplus Land Act. Under the Act, the City must prioritize land that it sells or leases for affordable housing development. After intense organizing and legal pressure, the City reversed course and eventually received multiple proposals that included substantial amounts of affordable housing.
When the San Jose City Council adopted a Council Policy on how to dispose of surplus city land that did not comply with the state Surplus Land Act, we partnered with Urban Habitat and other legal organizations to hold the City accountable.
Public Advocates co-coordinates the 6 Wins Network , a coalition of more than 20 grassroots, policy, faith, and labor organizations across the Bay Area focused on targeting and shaping the regional housing and transportation plan called Plan Bay Area. The plan will determine how nearly $300 billion in transportation money will be spent and how the region will house more than 2 million new residents over the next 25 years. Public Advocates and the 6 Wins Network aim to ensure that Plan Bay Area will result in more affordable housing near jobs and transit, robust and affordable local transit service, investment without displacement, healthy and safe communities, access to quality jobs, and greater power for low-income communities of color in local and regional decision-making.
Public Advocates works throughout the Bay Area to enforce a California law requiring all cities and counties to develop and periodically update an affordable housing action plan. That plan, called the “Housing Element” of the General Plan, must detail a concrete “program of actions” the local government commits to carry out so that its fair share of new housing affordable at all income levels can be built. Through precedent setting litigation, coalition work, and creative policy advocacy, we have leveraged the Housing Element requirement to lay the groundwork for many thousands of new homes for low-income people.
Public Advocates works with statewide and community partners to ensure that investments made under the state Affordable Housing & Sustainable Communities program reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provide economic and health benefits to low-income communities.