Home Truths, a quarterly report on the state of the Berkeley real estate market, is brought to you by Red Oak Realty.
If anything is constant about living in the East Bay, it’s change. Favorite restaurants come and go and friends move to Portland, but few things mark change as well as real estate.
In order to understand how the East Bay’s housing scenario will shift for the foreseeable future, Red Oak Realty tracks new residential developments that are planned, approved and under construction. We welcome you to explore this information through our interactive map:
Zoom in, filter, and select individual icons for more information. The size of the circle is based upon the number of units; the color is based upon its status in the planning process. See the legend for more information. Click here to see the map in its full size.*
Almost 50,000 units in over 200 projects are in various states of development between Richmond and San Leandro. Over 3,800 units are in Berkeley (8%) and the vast majority are in Oakland (51%).
Projects are mostly present in tight clusters. For example, in Berkeley, these locations are focused along Shattuck Avenue in downtown, Telegraph Avenue between Parker and Bancroft, and along San Pablo Avenue.
In downtown Berkeley alone there are over 20 different developments. These clusters are driven by a combination of available space, proximity to jobs and amenities and government policies designed to encourage residential growth.
Oakland is the city poised for the highest number of new units, with over 14,000 under construction, and over 25,000 in various stages of development. The city has spurred growth through its area-specific plans that are designed to encourage smart growth in neighborhoods such as Broadway Valdez, the Coliseum and Downtown. As a result, over 12,000 units in 60 projects are being developed near Broadway between Jack London Square and Uptown. This area alone represents 300% more units than all of Berkeley.
The height of developments in Berkeley and Oakland is notably different. The tallest project is located in Emeryville: 5801-5861 Christie at Powell is proposed as a 54-story, 638-unit project plus a 16-story office tower. In Oakland, Emerald Views is proposed as a 42-story, 370-unit development located at 222 19th Street at Lakeside Drive. The tallest project in Berkeley is the approved Shattuck Terrace Green Apartments, a 19-story, 274-unit project located at 2190 Shattuck and Allston Way.
The projects with the most number of units include 9,670 units at the Shops at Hilltop in Richmond, 3,500 at Brooklyn Basin in Oakland, and 1,032 at 500 Kirkham in Oakland. Berkeley’s largest development is 2211 Harold Way at Allston, which is approved to have 302 units, is the 38th largest development on our list.
Assuming Berkeley’s population growth continues at the same pace, there are only 0.4 units being built for each new resident.
The numbers are impressive, but what does this really mean for the residents of the East Bay? Almost all of these buildings are being planned as rentals. As such, they will most likely put downward pressure on rents, which have already begun to decline.
While some developers may decide to sell their units instead of renting, don’t expect that there will be enough new units to significantly affect the supply or price of existing for-sale properties.
There is still a significant housing shortage in our region. Alameda County population increased 10% between 2010 and 2017 (US Census) and new jobs in the Oakland Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) increased 21% (Employment Development Department). Berkeley’s population grew 9% in this time frame. Assuming Berkeley continues at the same pace, there are only 0.4 units being built for each new resident.
There are many implications to this significant wave of new residential developments: environmental, social, economic, cultural. Through communication and patience, we hope East Bay residents can work together to make sure the changes keep the East Bay the special place that it is, while offering equitable opportunities for all.
* Data for the map is sourced from, among others, the planning websites for the cities of Alameda, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Oakland, Richmond and San Leandro, as well as stories in the San Francisco Business Times, Berkeleyside and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Home Truths is written and sponsored by Red Oak Realty, one of the largest independent real estate brokers in the East Bay, serving the community since 1976. Read more in this series. If you are interested in learning more about the local real estate market or are considering buying or selling a home, contact Red Oak at email@example.com, 510-250 8780.