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Three people and a child in a firefighter costume crowd around a table that has a blue tablecloth with square post-it notes on it. On the right side is a board where people stuck notes with their idea and on the left, there is what looks like a pink and white dart board. Behind the table are two people, slightly visible, a man with a dark shirt and a woman with a blue shirt.

What should Richmond do with its surplus land?

on January 10, 2024

Richmond has a question for residents: What do they want built on unused city-owned land?

RichmondLand, a community land trust, and city staff are working to gather community input on the public land policy. 

“Affordable housing is really needed, but parks like this and different spaces for people to get together are also important,” said Leonardo Santana, a 20-year  Richmond resident, who talked to Richmond Confidential at a Halloween Land event on Oct, 28 at Unity Park. The park, at 16th Street and Ohio Avenue, has a children’s play area, community garden, bike path and public art.

At the event, residents received information about the land policy and a survey about it that residents can fill out. Santana took a picture of the survey QR code to give feedback when he got home. Others wrote their ideas on notes that they stuck on a bulletin board. 

The city is updating its public land policy to comply with the Surplus Land Act, a 55-year-old state law that was updated in 2020 to promote the development of more affordable housing. It connects developers interested in building affordable homes with unused public land. The law requires local agencies to list their land as either surplus, or exempt, if it is too small to develop or falls under a state exemption.

In 2020, Richmond reported 434 city-owned properties, 17 of which were declared surplus and available for affordable housing. Although cities do not typically build affordable housing, selling or leasing city-owned land below fair market value can incentivize developers.

The city also can designate surplus properties for other types of development, as long as they benefit the public, such as parks, gardens and libraries. 

Kaitlyn Quackenbush, a Partnership for the Bay’s Future fellow working with the city and RichmondLAND, said the agencies have sought public feedback for over a year, at  community events and at sessions with community organizations. 

“We want to go above and beyond what the state’s Surplus Land Act requires,” she said. 

Residents who want to participate, may fill out a survey on the city’s website

(Top photo: Oct. 28 event at Unity Park, by Ana Tellez-Witrago)

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  1. Kathy FOUCHE on January 10, 2024 at 4:14 pm

    Build a hospital. If not Marina Bay needs a grocery store.

    • Jonathan Livignston on January 11, 2024 at 8:49 am


      I submitted a vetted grocery store plan to the Marina Bay HOA a few months ago . Myself and my development partner commissioned a Market study and determined that a store would work. We then got a MOU from a crocery chain for a 10,000 sq store by the old Salute. This same plan was also shared with planning staff a few years ago….Staff wanted housing and the Marina Bay HOA has not retured call or seem interested. So, you get the government you deserve…..
      Or make a difference and get the government you want.

      Jonathan Livingston former DRB Chair

  2. Tek Sandoval on January 19, 2024 at 9:53 am

    Why is no affordable housing being built on the old parking lots around the Richmond BART station?

  3. Enzo Fernández on February 6, 2024 at 4:57 pm

    Soccer fields

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