Mapping Land Use Around the San Francisco Bay: A Look at Environmental Justice Through S.F. Bay Conservation and Development Commission’s Permitting History

Authors: Aviva Wolf-Jacobs*, Pitzer College
Topics: Land Use, Hazards and Vulnerability, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: Land Use Policy, Environmental Justice, San Francisco Bay Area
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Planning and regulatory environmental agency San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) plays an important role in the permitting of development around the San Francisco Bay. In collaboration with BCDC as the agency works to add an environmental justice amendment to its primary policy document, I explored the S.F. Bay Area’s history of permitting, and the associated patterns of land use. The agency’s internal permit database includes records of all development permits touching the 100-foot shoreline band around the San Francisco Bay since 1968. By classifying all major permits found within BCDC’s permit database into groups based on the type of land use associated with the permit project, i.e. Industrial, Flood Control, Ports, etc., it was possible to create maps showing the geographic distribution of each group of permits. In order to analyze potential environmental justice implications of the patterns of geographic distribution of development permits, I layered the coordinate points of each group of permits (by type) on top of spatial data representing areas around the SF Bay identified as highly socially vulnerable. Based on the findings of this project, I argue that highly socially vulnerable communities around the San Francisco Bay bear a disproportionate amount of land-use related environmental burdens. Furthermore, it is crucial to recognize that the geospatial analysis tools available for such uses have a limited ability to accurately convey the disproportionate environmental impacts of land use on socially vulnerable communities in the Bay Area.

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