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].