Public Lands in the Community’s Hands

Last month, PODER (People Organized to Demand Environmental and Economic Rights) achieved another victory in the fight for a more just and equitable San Francisco—getting a commitment from the city to turn a parking lot next to the Balboa Park transit station into a site for affordable housing development. San Francisco, despite the fact that it’s already an intensively used, high-density city, is littered with little-used publicly-owned lots.

Over the years, PODER has successfully rallied to create protections for tenants and industrial jobs, to create public benefits zoning policies, to create new parks out of brownfields sites, and to bring members into worker cooperatives. Under the slogan of “Public Lands for Community Uses,” PODER’s members, mostly Latino immigrants, seniors and youth, have turned their attention to two city-owned lots in the neighborhoods where they live and work, the Mission and the Excelsior. For the last year PODER members teamed up with a coalition of allies in the Excelsior District, the Filipino Community Center and Coleman Advocates, to develop a broad community vision for affordable housing in the area around the transit station.

Read more about PODER's work here.

Photo by Thomas Hawk, CC BY-NC

Fernando Marti is co-director of the Council of Community Housing Organizations, a coalition of affordable housing and community economic development advocates in San Francisco.


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