100 Resilient Cities


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Oakland is one of the most diverse, creative and progressive urban coastal cities in the United States.

As a major city in the Bay Area, Oakland also sits within one of the most prosperous economic growth engines in the world. The benefits of this growth, as acutely felt in Oakland, are not equitably distributed. Today, particularly among low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, Oakland faces rapidly rising income inequality and housing displacement, disparate unemployment and education rates, and chronic violence. Aging housing stock and public infrastructure challenged by seismic and climate risk further threaten Oakland residents, particularly our most vulnerable communities.

Resilient Oakland embraces Oakland’s strengths while tackling the daily and chronic stresses facing Oaklanders today and better preparing for tomorrow’s challenges. Resilient Oakland is not a finished product or a plan in the traditional sense. Rather, this playbook is a call to action. Resilient Oakland sets forth the work we need to do to begin modernizing our City by integrating processes, policies and programs that achieve greater impact.

The Resilient Oakland playbook is a holistic set of strategies and actions to tackle systemic, interdependent challenges. This includes equitable access to quality education and jobs, housing security, community safety and vibrant infrastructure, which will better prepare us for shocks like earthquakes and climate change impacts.

Through this work, we are changing the way we do government. And in the process, we are making our institutions—both local and regional—more resilient and responsive to whatever may come our way.

01 Build a More Trustworthy and Responsive Government Shift old paradigms and adopt new ways of doing the business of government.

02 Stay Rooted and Thrive In Our Town Help our communities and neighborhoods, the source of Oakland's strength.

03 Build a More Vibrant and Connected Oakland Rethink traditional approaches to create vibrant, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure.

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Shift old paradigms and adopt new ways of doing the business of government.

The City of Oakland will focus on modernizing City processes by growing and supporting a culture of civic innovation built on data analysis, iterative processes, and human-centered service design.

To achieve a more trustworthy and responsive government, we also need to empower our “entrepreneurial bureaucrats” to think outside the box while collaborating closely with community stakeholders. Resilient Oakland engaged staff from nearly all City departments, led by a team of doers and innovators, to address interdisciplinary issues.

As part of this broad objective, we will:

Design equitable and measurable and community engagement. We will do this by developing principles for community engagement in Oakland, pursuing the Partners for Places Equity Pilot to support ongoing collaborative engagement, and improving use of metrics to promote equitable outcomes.

Create more opportunities for collaborative government. We will do this by opening a Civic Design Lab for problem solving across City departments in collaboration with partners, implementing integrated actions through Resilience Delivery Teams, strengthening regional resilience through partnerships, programs, and pilots, and designing a digital service center focused on public need.

Apply data-driven principles to inform decision-making. We will do this by measuring performance to improve the City’s resilience decision-making, and identifying Key Performance Indicators for digital services, such as the Rent Adjustment Program.

Engage youth in shaping Oakland’s future. We will do this by launching Y-PLAN Resiliency Challenge to support engagement with Oakland youth, growing and supporting resilience internships through the Mayor’s Classrooms2Careers Program, and educating Oakland youth about resilience issues and the future of Oakland through arts and storytelling.

Oakland City Hall

Photo: Greg Linhares, City of Oakland
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A key action of the Resilient Oakland playbook is to devleop principles for community engagement in Oakland.

The City of Oakland in partnership with Rebuild by Design, West Oakland
Environmental Indicators Project, and Streetwyze is developing new principles for community engagement through a collaborative process with City staff and community leaders in a series of workshops that examine the range of engagement strategies used, evaluate their effectiveness and limitations, and incorporate community-relevant metrics and benchmarks to measure the outcomes of community outreach and engagement tools and practices.



Help our communities and neighborhoods, the source of Oakland's strength.

The ‘secret sauce’ of Oakland is rooted in our people and the 75 neighborhoods they shape.

The City is one of the most diverse major cities in the nation, with significant representation from Hispanic and Latino, Asian, and African American residents, as well as one of the country’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities.

Diversity is also a source of economic vitality for many Oakland businesses. Small businesses represent the foundation of Oakland’s local economy, with 90 percent of businesses in Oakland employing less than 20 people. These businesses face challenges, such as rising commercial rents, increasing gentrification, and recent overall economic stagnation. Given that many of the City’s small businesses are also located in low-income, minority-based neighborhoods, protecting the viability of these businesses is also a matter of equity and social justice.

A majority of Oakland’s housing stock is in older, pre-World War II buildings. Property owners with limited means, especially seniors and households still recovering from the economic recession, experience difficulty supporting home repairs, property taxes, and insurance. Oakland’s neighborhoods that continue to be hardest hit by foreclosures are in low- to moderate-income flatland neighborhoods, including those with historically high rates of African American homeownership. These same neighborhoods are also disproportionately impacted by vacant and abandoned properties, which attract vandalism and dumping, drain City resources, decrease tax revenues, and depress both property values and community vitality. At the same time, Oakland is experiencing an unprecedented need for new affordable housing.

As part of this broad objective, we will:

Increase economic security. We will do this by supporting asset building for low-income parents and children through Oakland Promise College Savings Initiatives, creating pathways to career success for young men and women of color, designing a suite of inclusive economic development services to help entrepreneurs of color gain equal footing in Oakland’s economy, and aligning economic resilience goals with the Oakland Thrives wealth impact table.

Promote safe and healthy neighborhoods. We will do this by redesigning digital service for Oakland’s Rent Adjustment Program to mitigate displacement, implementing thee 2016 Oakland Comprehensive Community Safety Plan, promoting resilience and equity for Oakland’s high-risk youth and adults most affected by trauma and violence, advancing the health and well-being of Oakland youth and families, launching Neighbors Helping Neighbors initiative to expand the reach of emergency preparedness and response training in underserved neighborhoods

Increase affordable housing stock. We will do this by providing gap financing for affordable housing in transit-accessible neighborhoods, and acquiring and rehabilitate vacant, abandoned and blighted properties into green, healthy, and permanently affordable homes.

Photo: Morgan Bellinger of Move Photography
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A key action of the Resilient Oakland playbook is to redesign digital service for Oakland’s Rent Adjustment Program to mitigate displacement.

The City will redesign the Rent Adjustment Program (RAP) website in order to more effectively provide services, which include contesting actions such as illegal rent. The RAP is the City of Oakland’s main mechanism for resolving disputes between property
owners and renters. Approximately 70 percent of Oakland’s estimated 100,000
rental units are currently covered under the RAP.



Rethink traditional approaches to create vibrant, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure.

Oakland’s transportation network, utilities, and housing stock have helped it achieve a diverse and booming economy.

Yet infrastructure, such as the storm drainage system and streets, is under strain and not keeping pace with the changes and challenges of the 21st century.

Oakland needs to rethink its traditional approach to infrastructure, especially
given the City’s strong commitment to renewable energy and efficiency goals, as well as green infrastructure projects. Oakland needs to think about digital infrastructure and how that relates to smart cities, the “internet of things,” and greater data collection through sensors, which can also help prioritize limited capital improvement dollars. Oakland envisions a transformative approach to creating vibrant, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure.

Oakland will proactively prepare its infrastructure and communities for climate and seismic risks through physical retrofits, planning, and robust community engagement. Oakland will use green infrastructure to manage storm water, so that while also reducing flood risks, we are also providing urban greening benefits, such as improved air quality and reduced urban heat island effects, especially for neighborhoods that have limited access to parks and green space. Bringing Oakland into the 21st century will require a significant amount of investment that will need to be generated in new and creative ways. Oakland will explore piloting new financing opportunities and seek to replicate the most promising methods.

As part of this broad objective, we will:

Reduce current and future climate and seismic risks. We will do this by demonstrating the retrofit of a city block using Ecoblock principles, implementing the 2016 Update to the Energy and Climate Action Plan, designing and implementing a soft-story retrofit program, implementing the Preliminary Sea Level Rise Road Map, implementing high-priority actions from the Local Hazard Mitigation Plan, assessing equity impacts and feasibility of 100-percent clean and renewable energy, and improving community resilience through risk modeling.

Provide urban greening for neighborhoods most in need. We will do this by identifying and leveraging funding opportunities for Priority Conservation Areas, updating the Storm Drainage Master Plan to guide future investment in storm water management, prioritizing parks and open spaces using resilience-related criteria, and developing a Green Infrastructure Plan to improve social, environmental, and economic resilience outcomes.

Maximize value of collective infrastructure investments. We will do this by applying a resilience, mobility, and equity lens to assess and select capital improvement projects, exploring participation in County’s Community Choice Aggregation program, and exploring innovative financing tools for resilience projects, including EcoBlocks.

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A key action of the Resilient Oakland playbook is to demonstrate the retrofit of a city block using ecoblock principles.

The EcoBlock project team will work in close collaboration with the owners and
residents of a small, older residential neighborhood to retrofit an entire North Oakland block that includes approximately 30 older homes, many subdivided into two to three smaller units. The project will include implementing deep energy efficiency in all
homes and shared rooftop solar panel, creating a solar-powered microgrid
with smart controls and onsite energy storage that can operate autonomously.


Read Oakland's Resilience Strategy