OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- City of Oakland officials said Monday that they're re-launching and expanding their plan for the future of the city's downtown area to include social equity goals.
The city began its so-called "Downtown Oakland Specific" process in the fall of 2015 to create policies to address a wide range issues, including land use and development, transportation, housing, economic development and arts and culture.
But city officials said they paused the planning process last year in response to community requests that the plan address racial disparities and the displacement of residents, services and culture.
The city said the Planning and Building Department, supported by the new Department of Race and Equity, has hired a consulting team of local specialists in social equity policy and community engagement, led by the Institute for Sustainable Economic, Education and Environmental Design.
City officials said the social equity team will supplement the work of the existing planning team that's led by Dover, Kohl & Partners.
The team will apply a social and racial framework to the process of developing a plan for downtown Oakland and deepen the engagement of communities that historically have been under-served.
The city said in a statement that the new focus "represents an historic opportunity to improve the downtown's infrastructure and economy while centering on the needs of people and areas that have either not benefited from or have been harmed disproportionately in the past."
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said, "The equity-based re-launch of Downtown Specific Plan will ensure that the cultural integrity and diversity that we desire and hold dear is honored by new development."
City officials said the expanded downtown plan process has started with a series of new community engagement activities targeted to leaders in communities of color and other communities whose voices often are not included in policy decisions.
The city said it will hold a public workshop in early 2018 that will solicit feedback on an initial set of plans that the equity team will assess for their racial equity impacts.
City officials said they expect to adopt a downtown plan in 2019 after they complete an environmental review.
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