California City of Oakland Latest to Force Diversity by Inserting Multiple Units into Single-Family Home Neighborhoods

A truck and a BART train drive behind an apartment building in Oakland, Calif., Thursday,
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Oakland, California, is poised to transform its single-family home neighborhoods into “diverse” communities by inserting low-income, multi-family units.

Oakland’s Vice Mayor, Rebecca Kaplan, introduced a resolution last week to direct the city’s administration and planning department to study how it can place four-plexs in otherwise single-family home neighborhoods.

“This will allow more units of housing to be built in certain areas and will prioritize areas near resources and BART stations and thus, support access to jobs and transit-oriented development as well,” Kaplan told the San Francisco Chronicle in a text message.

The Oakland plan is one other cities have considered or implemented as a way to increase a neighborhood’s so-called diversity by putting multi-unit, low-income housing in middle or upper-middle class neighborhoods.

No mention was made in the Chronicle report about how such a move would impact the safety and prosperity in neighborhoods where people are able to live in their own home.

The Chronicle reported on the trend, which favors dense housing and public transportation: 

The directive comes a week after Berkeley voted unanimously to end single-family zoning by the end of 2022. Berkeley is also considering allowing fourplexes in exclusive neighborhoods. Oakland and Berkeley are the latest cities looking at generating more housing by opening up neighborhoods as the region struggles with high rents and increasing homelessness. Oakland’s homeless population soared from 2017 to 2019 — increasing by nearly 47 percent to 4,071 people. Sacramento recently voted to endorse the idea of fourplexes, and one San Francisco politician is pushing a similar plan. San Jose and South San Francisco are also considering the issue.

Kaplan wrote in a memo to the city council that laws that allow single-family housing hurt housing supply, worsen the city’s housing crisis, and perpetuate racial disparities.

“This is one piece of how we both remedy historical exclusions and increase housing availability to help solve our housing crisis,” Kaplan said.

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter or send news tips to


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.