July 14, 2022 Housing Action Coalition

A Closer Look: The Oakland Approval and Environmental Cleanup Process

In Oakland, the housing approval process is both complex and inaccessible. While residents are often interested in the new housing projects being built in their neighborhood, concern is common because they are also often unfamiliar with what needs to happen before construction can begin. We want to address skepticism with transparency so folks can have confidence that environmental review is comprehensive.

Partnering with local architect, advocate, and illustrator Alfred Twu, we created infographics laying out the housing approval process, and more specifically, the environmental cleanup process that homebuilders must go through before they start building.

Before they put shovels into the ground, homebuilders must first present a project proposal to city government committees, who review the proposal and make a decision on whether to approve or reject the project.

In the general entitlement process, a key criteria projects are assessed on is environmental impact. 

When a new project is proposed, city officials analyze the proposal and project site to assess the environmental impact the new building will have on the surrounding environment, and identify any environmental cleanup that must happen before construction begins. The graphic below provides a guide to this process, which ensures environmental issues are identified (click on the image to increase size)

Within the already complex entitlement process, there is an even more complex process of environmental review. This substantial amount of analysis and oversight make sure new housing sites are cleaned up before building starts. (click on the image to increase size)

Transparency in government is essential, and we hope these infographics show residents the full process of approval and site clean-up new housing projects must complete before building.

Housing Action Coalition

The Housing Action Coalition is a member-supported non-profit that advocates for the creation of well designed, well-located housing at all levels of affordability. We believe more housing means more choices and better solutions.

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