Resilient Oakland - It Takes a Town to Thrive

From the City of Oakland, California, Resilient Oakland is described as a playbook, rather than a finished product or a plan, and is a holistic set of strategies and actions to address interdependent challenges in Oakland. The strategies are focused on equitable access to quality education and jobs, housing security, community safety and resilient infrastructure - to better prepare for natural hazards like earthquakes, and climate change impacts.

Resilient Oakland provides broad goals with detailed related actionable strategies, organized around three themes:

1. Build a more trustworthy and responsive government. The goals for this theme are to:

  • Design equitable and measurable community engagement
  • Create more opportunities for collaborative government
  • Engage youth in shaping the future of Oakland

2. Stay rooted and thrive in (our) town

  • Increase economic security
  • Promote safe and healthy neighborhoods
  • Increase affordable housing stock

3. Build a more vibrant and connected Oakland

  • Reduce current and future climate and seismic risks
  • Promote urban greening for neighborhoods most in need
  • Maximize value of collective infrastructure investments


Resilient Oakland considers social equity throughout the plan and directly links adaptation policy goals with social equity goals in a few of the strategies described in the report.

For example, Oakland proposes a "Neighbors Helping Neighbors" initiative that would expand the Communities of Oakland Respond to Emergencies (CORE) program that provides preparedness workshops for residents. This program will engage and recruit lower-income residents, multi-lingual residents, and persons with disabilities to take the CORE training. The hope is that this program will enhance neighborhood self-reliance following a disaster and increase community awareness about risks. 

Additionally, Oakland will apply a resilience, mobility, and equity lens to assess and select capital improvement projects meant to protect the city from climate risks. It is also developing a program to provide financial support for soft-story apartment buildings that are particularly susceptible to earthquake risk.


Reducing climate risks will entail transforming low- to moderate-income neighborhoods to be solar-powered, zero-carbon, and drought-tolerant, while reducing stress on the electric grid and the wastewater treatment system. A pilot project - “EcoBlock” will retrofit an entire North Oakland block that includes approximately 30 older homes. The project will include water conservation through rooftop water harvesting and advanced technologies to treat and recycle water onsite; and irrigating shared organic fruit and vegetable gardens and landscaping with recycled water to keep the block green and mitigate the urban heat-island effect.

Regarding urban greening, Oakland plans to increase the use of green infrastructure to provide benefits such as improved air quality, reduced urban heat island effect, while creating habitat and improving the experience of the community.

Social equity is considered throughout the plan and is the focus of some recommended actions such as: improving affordable housing access by redesigning the City’ Rent Adjustment Program website; breaking down workforce data by demographic population to better address the needs of underserved residents; and preparing vulnerable communities more effectively for disasters through the “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” program.

Resilient Oakland also addresses increasing collaboration inside City government through the launch of a new Civic Design Lab, building new and innovative partnerships among regional governments, and co-designing community engagement processes with those who live and work in Oakland.

As part of the 100 Resilient Cities Network since 2014, the City of Oakland has received support to hire a Chief Resilience Officer, create a resilience strategy, and receive access to tools, technical support, and resources for implementing this comprehensive resilience plan. Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, 100 Resilient Cities is dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to physical, social, and economic challenges.



Publication Date: October 10, 2016

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