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Policy Case Studies

These Anti-Displacement Policy Case Studies look at three neighborhoods that were vulnerable to, but did not experience, gentrification and displacement in recent years. We discuss the features of these places and the strategies their cities used to limit their displacement.

Chinatown, San Francisco

Chinatown is situated at the center of San Francisco’s booming real estate market, with close proximity to the Financial District, Downtown, and affluent neighborhoods such as Russian Hill. Due to its prime location, it was expected that Chinatown would have succumbed to the pressures of development and speculation that have transformed surrounding areas and much of San Francisco. However, deliberate anti-displacement zoning policies, widespread rent control, and a well-organized community have preserved Chinatown as an Asian American and low-income enclave.

Download the case study here.

Key Findings: 

  • All the neighborhoods surrounding Chinatown have experienced dramatic growth in rent, while the case study neighborhood has remained exceptionally stable.
  • Rezoning in the 1980s, the city’s single-room occupancy policy, and rent control have all protected the neighborhood’s large stock of affordable housing.
  • A strong, organized community has played a key role in the neighborhood’s ability to resist gentrification.

 

East Palo Alto

These Anti-Displacement Policy Case Studies look at three neighborhoods that were vulnerable to, but did not experience, gentrification and displacement in recent years. We discuss the features of these places and the strategies their cities used to limit their displacement.

East Palo Alto is located in the heart of Silicon Valley. The city has long served as a pocket of affordability for low-income households who might otherwise be excluded from the affluent region.

Download the case study here.

Key findings: 

  • The case study neighborhood has welcomed new low-income households in recent years.
  • Median rent has doubled yet still remains more affordable than anywhere else in San Mateo County.
  • The city has consistently enacted policies in favor of affordable housing, including tenant protections, inclusionary zoning and housing subsidies.
  • Other factors, like a lack of good schools and access to amenities, a lingering perception of the city as unsafe, and overcrowding have also probably played a significant role in limiting gentrification.

 

Diridon Staion, San Jose

These Anti-Displacement Policy Case Studies look at three neighborhoods that were vulnerable to, but did not experience, gentrification and displacement in recent years. We discuss the features of these places and the strategies their cities used to limit their displacement.

Diridon Station is a transit hub on the western edge of downtown San José, with stops for Caltrain, Amtrak, VTA light rail, ACE, and multiple bus lines. While there is significant vacant and non-residential land surrounding Diridon Station, there are also surrounding neighborhoods that are home to low- and middle-income residents where displacement spurred by rising housing costs is a major concern.

Download the case study here.

Key Findings:

  • Housing production and population growth defines this area. Some of the demographic changes are consistent with gentrification (fewer families, increased income levels, increased educational attainment), yet the area also increased its number of low-income households.
  • Market-rate housing production, affordable housing production, and rent stabilization seem to be the main ways this neighborhood retained its low-income population.
  • The neighborhood is facing “encroachment” from all sides, with already-gentrified neighborhoods all around it. One expert thinks that the gritty and uneven character of West San Carlos has perhaps kept the neighborhood from gentrifying as dramatically as these surrounding places, but that in time it would, too.