San Leandro

Neighborhood Action Plan

How can we reduce greenhouse gas emissions and make San Leandro more livable for all? We need an action plan—one that addresses real-life issues our community has right now and prioritizes improvements for our most vulnerable. By that we mean residents in San Leandro neighborhoods that are disadvantaged economically, or disproportionately impacted by pollution, or both: Davis West, Davis East, Downtown, Washington Manor, Halcyon Foothill, Bonaire, Mulford Gardens, Floresta Gardens and Marina Faire. These neighbors are not only hardest hit by climate impacts but also least able to protect themselves. 


A Tale of Two San Leandros

Calenviroscreen: Percentiles of SL neighborhoods pollution contrasted with Lowest State Burden (Montclair) and Highest State Burden, (Fresno)

Why the disparity between these and other neighborhoods? It is not a coincidence. Like so many American cities, San Leandro has a history of discrimination going back to its founding that has disproportionately kept largely non-white communities poor and exposed to more health hazards than their white counterparts. 


Getting Community Perspectives

In summer of 2021, we invited residents from the neighborhoods listed above to share with us their top quality-of-life concerns, both related to climate change and their personal concerns, to inform the Neighborhood Action Plan. We gathered their input and feedback through nine online “listening sessions,” five community focus groups (small group conversations) and an online survey in English, Spanish and Chinese. (The Survey  is still open!)  There have been several key themes that emerged as community priorities. 

Key Themes


Housing Availability & Affordability

The rising cost of housing was the most pressing issue for participants.

  • High real estate cost and low-income means homeownership is out of reach for many.

  • Renters are increasingly being displaced and spending more.

  • Among low income homeowners, 50% spent 30% or more of income on housing. 26% spent < 50%. *San Leandro Housing Element.

The number one thing every person I speak with is  struggling with,  is the cost of housing. It’s a huge issue.

percent of income.png

San Leandro Housing Element


Employment & The Economy

People want local, well- paying jobs and want to support more local businesses.

“Prior to COVID, my commute was 2+ hours. I I don’t want to do that again.”


“Small businesses can’t compete with Amazon. But I’d love to see more shops in my neighborhood. I would walk to them.”

  • Only 11% live and work in San Leandro.

  • Many are un- or underemployed.

  • Many shop outside of San Leandro.

  • Opportunities exist for training and green jobs networks and coalitions.

  • 88% say climate action is a high priority, but competing concerns (mostly economic, e.g., cost of housing or childcare v. income), take their time.

green jobs.png


Public & Personal Transportation

People want AFFORDABLE, SAFE and CONVENIENT public transit options and other alternatives to driving

  • Alternatives to driving are not seen as particularly safe.

  • Interest in biking or walking to shop or get groceries, but few options are close by.

  • People want public transit options and other safe alternatives to driving.

San Leandro is fortunate because we have two BART stations,  but besides that, there isn’t great transit and it’s not safe to bike and walk.”


“I love BART, but it’s really bad now- it’s dirty and feels unsafe. Plus, Covid fear

Select top two transportation.png


Air Pollution & Health

Information about Air Pollution was a big “aha” moment for participants. Wide-spread asthma makes it a personal issue.

"I have really severe asthma. SL companies need to make a plan to make sure their vehicles aren't so polluting and noisy."


"Big trucks are on my street around the clock. They make the air unhealthy and are dangerous for pedestrians."

asthma 2.png

San Leandro Ranks 3rd for Asthma Hospitalizations.  Source Alameda County Health Dept.

health concerns.png


Community & Connection

People feel disconnected but want to be part of a close community.

  • Isolation during wildfires and stay at home orders.

  • In contrast, people feel more connected as they spent more time in neighborhoods during COVID.

  • Strong interest in community building.

“[During COVID] you saw people in their gardens or walking in the neighborhood – things we did not experience before. It’s really important that we keep building that sense of connection and shared purpose!”



Cost of Living (Non-Housing)

  • Top non-housing expenses were childcare & utilities.

  • Concern over increasing cost of food, especially for healthy options.

  • Concern over high electricity costs that keep rising disproportionately.

“Energy bills are outrageous, especially now that many of us are spending more time at home. What can we do to change this?”



City Communications

San Leandro lacks easily accessible resources and clear lines of communication in times of crisis - especially to frontline communities.

  • Hard to find information during COVID on Healthcare, rental, mental health, and unemployment-related assistance & resources.

  • Ideas for improvement were resource library/platform, regular emails, better social media channels, a “21st century” website, in-person events, etc.

“During COVID and the wildfires, I didn’t hear a single thing from the City of San Leandro. If we can’t get basic stuff like this right, how do we communicate about climate change?

Is there a central place for resources that City of San Leandro manages? "


Climate Goals & Future Focus

The top concerns community members shared with us, such as affordable housing and good jobs, may not seem related to the climate crisis at first glance, but are, in fact, deeply connected. Focusing on the four larger goals below, an effective Neighborhood Action Plan can and must devise initiatives that solve our community’s real-life problems in a way that reduces climate risks. 


Help us take the Neighborhood Action Plan to the next level: As we design initiatives to move us closer to each of the goals above, we invite you to share your project ideas. No matter how large or small, specific or lofty, your input is welcome. Click here to email us!





Support, advance, & build more high-density & affordable housing.

Climate Connection to Housing: Density

Denser housing does three things:

(1) provides better access to transit and services nearby and makes public transit more efficient.

 (2) By building densely, you’re using less resources, infrastructure, and carbon

(3) Reduces  car use and associated GHG's  caused by sprawl.


Support the creation of more local jobs & small businesses in San Leandro that pay a fair wage.

Climate Connection to Local Jobs:

We have an economy that has separated housing from jobs; without having access to local jobs, transportation will continue to be a massive barrier and create transportation emissions driving GHGs.

Create opportunities to create meaningful community connections.

Climate Connection to Community:

Building community and resilience is especially important in crises (climate or non-climate related). Getting people out of their cars and on the street is key. This improves peoples happiness, supports connection to local business and services,  and builds resilience.


Improve air quality in impacted neighborhoods to prevent health related disparities such as asthma.

Climate Connection to air quality:

Minimizing freight and other heavy duty-related emissions reduces particulate matter as well as GHGs. The emissions that drive climate change are directly related to emissions that impact air quality and public health.


Help us take the Neighborhood Action Plan to the next level!

 As we design initiatives to move us closer to each of the goals above, we invite you to share your project ideas. No matter how large or small, specific or lofty, your input is welcome. Click here to email us!


San Leandro's History

San Leandro's History of discrimination has contributed unequal climate burdens for some neighborhoods

San Leandro.jpeg


A difficult history,

Acknowledging our past is essential to building a better future:

Our founding

40 tribal groups collectively known today as the
Ohlone lived in this area for thousands of years in this area of the Bay. It was rich with seeds, roots, shellfish, birds, grizzlies, elk, antelope, and small game, making it a hugely productive agricultural and hunting area to live and settle.


1800s Gold & Agriculture

The Ohlone were further pushed out as squatters
and gold miners rushed in after gold was discovered
in the state in 1848.

Farmers found that almost anything would grow on
the fertile flatlands, while Bay access and early
railroads provided the means to ship produce to
other markets. Farmers needed equipment to work
heavy clay soil and vast acreages. Industrialists
arrived in San Leandro in the late 19th century to
meet that need. San Leandro had factories
producing tractors, combines, hay presses, and
other farm equipment, as well as a cannery to
preserve local produce, by the late 1800s.


1930s Redlining

Opportunities in housing were not available to all.
Housing discrimination through Redlining excluded
African-Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics,
Latinos and lower income people from living in areas such as
Estudillo Estates and Broadmoor. Redlining pushed them into lesser outer neighborhoods in the industrial areas. These reports were written by San Leandro Mayor Ray Billings, and the San Leandro Inspection Department.


1960s & 70s City & Real Estate

Industry Exclusion

San Leandro was a “sundown town,” which was a way of threatening violence on people of color existing in a town after dusk. These towns designated themselves "white only,” and often had signs announcing that these areas were sundown towns, meaning African Americans, Mexican Americans, Chinese Americans, or others of color were not allowed in town after the sun set.

San Leandro maintained its racial exclusivity through homeowners’ associations that reportedly kept a “vigilante-like” watch on real estate agents to ensure no one would show homes to African- Americans and that city government took no action to stop the intimidation.

Six Realtors in San Leandro “refused to exchange multiple listings with the integrated Oakland border". This refusal banned Oakland’s minority population from the opportunity to purchase homes in San Leandro by denying these home seekers essential information about available housing on the market.


1700s Spanish Colonization

21 missions were established near the California coast for Spanish priests to "seek souls," and many Tribes were forcibly incorporated into the Spanish Missions by 1800. The colonization was devastating to the Ohlone and resulted in disease, destruction, and dispersion of the California Indians


1900s Industry

During the war years, thousands immigrated here for work in military industries. The population of San Leandro continued to swell in the 1950s and 1960s and fields were sold to developers, who built housing for the growing population.

Agricultural land was used for industrial development and San Leandro began billing itself as the "City of Industry".


1950s Construction of a

National Interstate Highway System

In the 50s and 60s, the federal government
funded urban renewal projects to clear out and
“revitalize” cities. This included the construction
of a national interstate highway system, built
through urban centers and leaving damaging effects
to the economic and social fabric of
communities. Construction began to replace
street routing of Highway 17 through the
East Bay in 1947. Eventually, it ran the
length of San Francisco Bay and is now known as
I-880. The interstate split San Leandro in half
and left many residents cut off from
downtown, City services, and the ease of
getting around without a car. 880 serves as a
major trucking route for Northern California
and the Port of Oakland, making
neighborhoods along the highway suffer high
concentrations of noise and air pollution


The Present

Federal discriminatory housing policies made it expensive or impossible to get mortgages or maintenance loans for people of color. This led to disinvestment and depressed housing values in these communities which persists today. Although the 1968 Fair Housing Act banned discrimination in lending, the previous years of policy and continued exclusionary illegal activities impacted both the built environment and the unequal distribution of wealth we see today.   Eight San Leandro neighborhoods are considered to be disadvantaged environmentally and/or economically, and experience higher health burdens, such as high rates of asthma and cardiovascular disease, housing burden, food insecurity, and lack of access to green space.

SL2050 Refresh (1)_edited.png

San Leandro


in partnership with



Neighborhood Action Plan