Credit: City of Oakland

For the first time in 20 years, the city of Oakland is updating its General Plan, considered a sweeping “blueprint” of the future of the city that’s meant to guide the creation of a more equitable Oakland.

Kicking off the years-long process of crafting the 2025-2045 General Plan, the city has released a “Map Atlas,” a 112-page trove of colorful maps, charts, and write-ups on current conditions in Oakland. (Note that the atlas is a large file and is easier to view if downloaded, rather than online.)

The document will help “frame choices for the long-term physical development of Oakland,” wrote planning firm Dyett & Bhatia, which created the atlas and is contracted with the city to lead the creation of the General Plan. The map atlas will be used as the basis for community discussions and policy planning as the General Plan process gets underway. 

But the atlas is also a compelling resource for anyone looking to learn more about their neighborhood or how development, environmental hazards, transit systems, and the distribution of resources has shaped daily life and access to opportunities in Oakland. 

Maps included in the atlas display Oakland through a variety of lenses, from where flooding is most likely to occur, to where affordable housing will be built.

Credit: City of Oakland

How many acres of redwood forest are there in the city? Three hundred and ten, according to the atlas. How many miles of sewer lines? Nine hundred and thirty. 

And how many days was Alameda County choked by unhealthy air in recent years? Twelve in the wildfire-heavy 2020, and a relatively relieving two in 2021. 

An interesting section of the atlas analyzes trips—by car, foot, bike, or transit—to and from Oakland, pre-pandemic. The researchers found that two-thirds of non-work trips that began in Oakland also ended within Oakland, whereas less than half of work trips stayed in the city. That means most residents socialized and shopped in Oakland, but most worked elsewhere. The atlas also looks specifically at trips starting in neighborhoods considered “high equity priority areas,” to determine how different communities move around. 

Credit: City of Oakland

Another section looks at the age of Oakland’s buildings, and how many might become eligible to be designated as historic resources. There are 80,000 properties older than 50 years in the city, according to the analysis, and another 6,400 that will become that old within the next 20 years, the upcoming General Plan period. This is important to track because, the atlas says, historic resources and districts will shape housing policy and priorities, and present new opportunities to evaluate how Oakland defines historic and cultural significance. 

The next opportunity for the community to discuss a vision for Oakland’s future and weigh in on the General Plan is Saturday, from 3-5 p.m., at a West Oakland “porch chat.” Next Tuesday, the Deeply Rooted Collaborative, another contractor leading the General Plan creation, will hold pop-up events from 1-7 p.m., at the Living Room events at Grove Shafter Park and the Alameda County Social Services Plaza, which are geared towards unhoused residents.

See the full list of General Plan events and meetings, and the project timeline.

Natalie Orenstein covers housing and homelessness for The Oaklandside. She was previously on staff at Berkeleyside, where her extensive reporting on the legacy of school desegregation received recognition from the Society of Professional Journalists NorCal and the Education Writers Association. Natalie’s reporting has also appeared in The J Weekly, The San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere, and she’s written about public policy for a number of research institutes and think tanks. Natalie lives in Oakland, grew up in Berkeley, and has only left her beloved East Bay once, to attend Pomona College.