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Case Examples > San Francisco South of Market Neighborhood

San Francisco South of Market Neighborhood

Reducing Health Disparities Through Equitable Land Use Policies


To support grassroots advocacy and leadership training to influence major community planning decisions that impact the determinants of health for low-income residents in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood.

Lead Organization

South of Market Community Action Network (SOMCAN)

Chris Durazo, Community Planning Program Director
April Veneracion, Organizational Director
965 Mission Street #220,San Francisco, CA 94103
Phone (415) 348-1945


  1. Create a core of community leaders who are well-informed, organized, and trained to advocate for their health needs within a public land use planning process.
  2. Increase stakeholders’ understanding of the relationship between land use and health.
  3. Increase policy makers’ understanding of the relationship between land use and health.
  4. Assure that community health is taken into account and built into SoMa land use and development decisions.

Major Activities

  1. Community capacity building and leadership trainings
  2. Community education around land use and health
  3. Health impact assessment data collection; application of Healthy Development Measurement Tool
  4. Land use and health media campaign

SOMCAN is a small, grassroots organization devoted to San Francisco’s South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood, which is bounded by Market Street, Townsend Street, Division Street, and the San Francisco Bay. SoMa is currently experiencing a resurgence of residential and commercial development. This neighborhood represents a large percentage of minorities, and has the most concentrated population of Filipinos in the city. In addition, SoMa has one of the greatest concentrations of families living below poverty in San Francisco, with nearly half of the residential families earning less than $35,000 per year. In tandem with the effects of concentrated poverty, the residents of SoMa face disparate health challenges when compared with the rest of San Francisco.

SOMCAN has been conducting community needs assessments and organizing residents around issues of displacement since its founding in 2000. SOMCAN’s community organizing work is devoted to making explicit the link between health, the physical environment, land use, and public policy. SOMCAN recently participated in the 18-month Eastern Neighborhoods Community Health Impact Assessment (ENCHIA) project, which was convened by the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) to respond to increasing development pressure placed on San Francisco’s industrial neighborhoods. In ENCHIA, SOMCAN served as a community-based group representing the health needs and concerns of SoMa’s low-income, immigrant and people of color communities.

project partners