Maps by UC Berkeley researchers show advanced gentrification in Berkeley, Northern California

Katherine Qiu/Staff

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Updated maps released by UC Berkeley’s Urban Displacement Project shed light on the extensive state of gentrification across Northern California, including in Berkeley.

The map of Northern California color-coordinates neighborhoods by the presence of gentrification, displacement and/or exclusion. Most of central and South Berkeley are shown to experience ongoing gentrification and displacement, while most of North Berkeley is at risk of gentrification, and the Berkeley Hills are undergoing advanced exclusion.

The map details the status of gentrification, displacement and exclusion in 13 Northern California counties, with the latest update including Yolo, San Joaquin, Santa Cruz and Sacramento counties. Research began four years ago using purchased proprietary data before switching to public data, according to Miriam Zuk, the project’s director.

“We … try to better understand the processes of neighborhood change, gentrification and displacement, and (we) equip communities with tools to better understand what’s going on around them and be able to take action,” Zuk said.

Zuk co-led the project with Karen Chapple, a campus professor of city and regional planning, in collaboration with researchers at UCLA and Portland State University. Some input and funding came from community-based organizations.

In addition to the updated gentrification map, the researchers also released a policy map that helps communities understand what anti-displacement policies are in place, Zuk said. The researchers conduct workshops on anti-displacement strategies and link videos explaining displacement and gentrification to their website.

According to Zuk, advocates have used the maps to communicate with policymakers about community conditions, and council members have used them to advocate for certain policies. The San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development used the maps in its anti-displacement efforts by locating and targeting neighborhoods undergoing significant change, according to Zuk.

Richie Smith, a resident of South Berkeley since 1949, said people moving into Berkeley buy property and evict tenants so they can charge higher rent, causing gentrification.

“I raised a family here. … I’ve raised three sons. … I have grandchildren. … I have great-grandchildren,” Smith said. “I’ve seen it in its heyday, in its good times, and I’m seeing it in another light now.”

Berkeley resident Willie Phillips added that solutions to gentrification are dependent upon addressing the people affected by it. Academics, Phillips said, see gentrification in terms of numbers instead of people, adding to the “invisibility of the problem.”

“This is not something that requires a Ph.D. to understand,” Phillips said. “People are people.”

Zuk said the Urban Displacement Project will release a report on commercial gentrification in the future, to better understand the impact of displacement on racial and ethnic groups. The researchers will use new sources, including tax records, to analyze where people are moving to and from.

Contact Henry Tolchard and Jared Brewer at [email protected].

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  • Woolsey

    Question: Shouldn’t we be supporting gentrification? People with jobs move into a neighborhood, fix up their houses, interact with their neighbors, work on joint projects, and create a real community. This is bad somehow? The statement that the newcomers, “buy property and evict tenants so they can charge higher rent, causing gentrification” is just plain wrong, it’s illegal, why would a legit newspaper print that?

  • California Defender

    Gentrification is an absolute blessing!

    My neighborhood has actively encouraged it by providing support to homeowners who renovate or at least enhance curb appeal by improving front yards, painting, planting trees, etc. Home values have dramatically increased, renters were pushed out, and a more sustainable population with a vested interest in the neighborhood moved in.

    Crime decreased, schools improved, traffic eased, population decreased, and overall quality of life increased.

    • Pietro Gambadilegno

      Renters were pushed out, and where did they go?

      • California Defender

        A logical conclusion would be to a lower cost-of-living neighborhood, city, or, better yet, state. Perhaps even country?

  • lspanker

    When the supply for housing can’t keep up with demand, the price of housing goes up, so those who can’t afford housing in a given location move to cheaper locales, to be replaced by people with higher incomes willing to pay the price. That should be no surprise to anyone familiar with basic economics. Only idiot liberals make it sound like some type of conspiracy…

    • Pietro Gambadilegno

      Karen Chapple, co-director of the study, has said the same thing: that we need to build more housing, including more market-rate housing, to counter gentrification.

      I don’t know about the other people involved in the study. You might want to look into what they actually say about the causes of gentrification before you assume that they are idiots.

      • California Defender

        Building more housing only inflicts more pain on horribly overpopulated California. We don’t have the resources (water, infrastructure, taxes, etc) to support the population who are mostly from other parts of the nation and world.

        Gentrification is a blessing as it provides more housing for productive middle-class citizens rather than expanding the urban sprawl outward. It’s better for the environment, traffic, schools, and infrastructure.

        • Pietro Gambadilegno

          Gentrification doesn’t help middle class citizens. It makes housing too expensive for middle-class citizens to afford.

          Why do you think gentrification would provide housing for middle-class citizens already in California, rather than attracting upper-middle-class citizens from the rest of the United States?

          • California Defender

            Not true. Gentrification helps open up more housing, usually at the lower end of the middle class spectrum. It is their effort in improving homes and neighborhoods that increases values and provides upward mobility for the middle class.

            And the upper-middle is not as mobile as you think. Their wealth is tied to their jobs which dictates where they live. Besides, the upper-middle class in most other states is more like the middle or lower-middle in California. Their ability to move here is very limited and that’s a great thing. We’re horribly overpopulated as it is.

            The only thing that will protect California’s environment, natural resources, tax base, and quality of life is higher housing values/rent and keeping availability as low as possible. This means restricting new construction in favor of gentrifying what exists.

          • Pietro Gambadilegno

            Gentrification may create more middle-class housing in Stockton, but not in Berkeley or San Francisco. Here, it is mostly a matter of turning middle-class housing into unaffordable housing.

            Where do you live?

            Average cost of a house in Berkeley is $750,000. Do you want it to go higher than that?

            How much do you do to protect California’s environment? For example, how many tons of carbon dioxide do your family’s car or cars emit each year?

            There is a state law, SB 375, that says we need higher densities around transit to help control greenhouse gas emissions. Have you heard of that law?

          • California Defender

            And that’s the price that Berkeley demands. There, 1 million IS middle class.

            I live in California. And before you say Berkeley is California, true Californians vehemently disagree. You’re Berkeleyites or some hyphenated identité de jour.

            And I am a staunch protector of the environment. My family’s three electric vehicles run off of 100% solar power from my roof. So, zero tons is the answer.

            I’m also somewhat familiar with SB 375 which is one of the many pointless feel-good, do-nothing bills. In fact it harms our environment by providing incentives to BIG out-of-state/foreign developers to conform to it, such as bypassing CEQA regulations.

            A better approach is to require developers to increase density around transit centers (abiding by CEQA) while purchasing and removing equivalent housing elsewhere.

            Happy Thanksgiving, my friend. Off to eat some Tofurky now.

          • SecludedCompoundTTYS

            It depends on the city IMO. Remember that California is not the normal.

    • DaMaestro

      Why blame “idiot” liberals – and especially those of us with extensive work experience in urban and rural planning? But then again, as a Russian troll, that’s probably to be expected from you, Ispanker.

      • Watson Ladd

        Because they are the ones who downzoned wide swaths of Berkeley in the 1960’s and sue to preserve historic garages in the name of environmentalism. It wasn’t conservatives who passed CEQA and made it apply to infill housing.

      • California Defender

        If you’re not an idiot liberal, you’re not doing much to convince us otherwise by labeling Ispanker a “Russian troll”.

        And if you have “extensive work experience in urban and rural planning”, then what is your argument against Ispanker’s identification of free market effects? It doesn’t appear you have any which questions your definitions of “extensive” and “work” and “experience”.

      • lspanker

        Not a Russian troll whatsoever – I’m a Bay Area native and Cal Grad. I blame “idiot liberals” who don’t understand basic economic principles, and assume conspiracy over things that can be readily explained by anyone who can think for themselves…