Greening in Place: Protecting Communities from Displacement

The Greening in Place guide serves to assist public agencies and developers in pursuing equitable green development and combating the displacement impacts that green investments can invoke. It includes an assessment of the displacement risks associated with green investment, a framework for equitable green development, several case studies, and a range of policies and strategies that can be used in partnership with the affected communities. By pursuing these strategies, park agencies and community advocates can advance racial and economic equity and promote healthy, sustainable, and inclusive green development. 

This guide is broken down into two main sections: A Framework for Equitable Green Development and the Equitable Green Development Toolkit.

The framework discusses 

  • What equitable green development and green infrastructure are, 
  • the relationship between green infrastructure and displacement, 
  • green infrastructure investment and displacement in Los Angeles County, and 
  • how green infrastructure investments can be made more equitably. 

This framework defines equitable green development as development that “prioritizes investment in, and engagement with, low-income communities and communities of color that have historically been excluded from and/or harmed by land use and environmental policy decisions.” Examples of green infrastructure projects are provided, including those that accidentally accelerated patterns of gentrification and the displacement of low-income communities. This “green gentrification” is explained in the framework, and the authors provide a few case studies on successful attempts to prevent this consequence.

In order to avoid green gentrification altogether and develop green spaces with equity in mind, this guide includes the Equitable Green Development Toolkit. This toolkit is made up of the following categories: 

  • Tenant protections 
  • Land use and housing 
  • Aligning funding with equitable outcomes 
  • Enhancing economic opportunities 
  • Community engagement and ownership
  • Design and operations 

These sections include several anti-displacement policies and program recommendations that work to combat the displacement of low-income communities that can occur as a result of green infrastructure investments. These strategies, which emphasize the importance of working with and for the community, can be used by public agencies, advocates, and developers in fostering equitable green development. This toolkit includes several case studies to illustrate these best-practices. Additionally, it includes laws and policies primarily applicable to the Los Angeles region and California that other areas can learn from and emulate. 

This guide also includes an Appendix on how to implement the toolkit, which includes some pre-development strategies that should be considered before using it, post-construction strategies, notes on how to implement the toolkit as a public agency, and notes for community serving organizations and outside funders. 

Greening In Place was produced through a partnership between the Audubon Center at Debs Park (ACDP), a Los Angeles-based nature center affiliated with National Audubon Society; Public Counsel, the nation's largest nonprofit law firm; the Southeast Asian Community Alliance (SEACA), a community leadership and development organization based in the Los Angeles area; and Team Friday, a strategic communications agency. 

Publication Date: October 2020

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  • Best practice
  • Education/training materials
  • Policy analysis/recommendations
  • Tool (general)


  • Socioeconomic

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