January 30, 2012

By Sam Tepperman-Gelfant

It’s been an exciting month for affordable housing and smart growth in the East Bay. On Jan. 24 — as President Obama talked about inequality and the housing market collapse in his State of the Union Address — the city of Concord was taking a bold step to break out of this damaging cycle. The City Council’s unanimous approval of a visionary plan to revitalize the gigantic area that was once the Concord Naval Weapons Station paves the way for a more equitable and prosperous future for the city and for the whole East Bay.

There’s a lot to love about the plan, which you can read all about in our press release on the Concord victory. But I am particularly thrilled that 3,000 new homes — about 25 percent of the housing built there — will be affordable to lower-income households. That’s a huge number. To put it in context, Concord will have four times the number of affordable homes won in the historic Westchester County settlement in 2009, and substantially more than will be built on San Francisco’s Treasure Island. There will also be service-enriched housing for families who have been homeless and people with disabilities. This will help integrate the new community into the city and allow more people to live near where they work.

The plan will bring a host of other benefits as well. New pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods near transit and services. Thousands of local construction jobs. And a regional park three times the size of Golden Gate Park for everyone to enjoy. It’s going to happen in Concord.

This breakthrough was no accident. The Community Coalition for a Sustainable Concord, of which Public Advocates is a proud and active member, has been advocating for this vision for the last five years. The Coalition is a unique alliance of housing, labor, faith-based, neighborhood and environmental organizations. Our diligent work to advocate, educate and collaborate with the community, elected officials and city staff was instrumental in shaping the plan approved this week.

Personally, I have been working on this project for more than four years, but I have to say it was worth the wait! As other communities in the Bay Area and around California plan for the future, I hope they will look to Concord as a model of how to do it right.

Learn more about our efforts in Concord leading up to this exciting moment.


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