To address the health needs of low-income communities through the City of Richmond’s General Plan update by building the capacity of community leaders and decision makers to advance health promoting land use policies.
Urban HabitatBob Allen, Transportation & Housing Program Director
The City of Richmond’s population and demographics have fluctuated throughout its history with industrial change and development. The city’s population is more racially diverse than the rest of the Bay Area. The city remains an industrial center for the Bay Area, although the job landscape mirrors the national shift towards service sector employment. Poverty rates are higher than in the rest of the East Bay and unemployment is consistently higher than the rest of the region. The economic inequality within the city is stark, as incomes are lower compared with the greater Bay Area and a low range of median household incomes across neighborhoods. The low-income neighborhoods tend to be in the core parts of the city, with more affluent residents living in the hills, waterfront, and outer portions of the city.
Although much of the city’s land is zoned for industrial and commercial uses, Richmond has recently experienced growth in housing development, an influx of new residents, and several large-scale developments have been proposed for land that has been unused for decades. The city’s General Plan, last updated in 1994, has not kept apace with the changing pressures on land-use, transportation, housing, and other development issues. To address these challenges, Richmond is in the process of amending its General Plan, which is projected to take 18 months. The General Plan will establish a framework for Richmond’s development by creating design guidelines around housing construction and density, the appropriate number of parks and pathways, equitable access to grocery stores and community-health services, locations of schools, and development of infrastructure systems that will impact public health (such as sewer systems and water). As a result, this process represents a significant window of opportunity for Richmond residents and key stakeholders to engage in the policy making arena to address the root causes of some of the City’s health problems. The Richmond Equitable Development Initiative (REDI) is a coalition of local community organizations and partners advance research, advocacy, organizing, and policy efforts to promote equitable development.