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Signs of Speculation in
the Monument Corridor
Celina Chan, Viviana Lopez, Sydney Céspedes, and Nicole Montojo
Partner Organization:
Monument Impact
Project Manager:
Miriam Zuk
Project Advisor:
Karen Chapple
Additional advisory support was provided by Carlos Romero. This case study was funded in part by
the Regional Prosperity Plan1 of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission as part of the “Regional
Early Warning System for Displacement” project and from the California Air Resources Board2 as part
of the project “Developing a New Methodology for Analyzing Potential Displacement.”
The Center for Community Innovation (CCI) at UC-Berkeley nurtures effective solutions that expand
economic opportunity, diversify housing options, and strengthen connection to place. The Center
builds the capacity of nonprofits and government by convening practitioner leaders, providing technical assistance and student interns, interpreting academic research, and developing new research out
of practitioner needs.
June 2015
Cover Photograph Source:
The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under an award with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and publisher are solely
responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Government.
The statements and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the California Air Resources
Board. The mention of commercial products, their source, or their use in connection with material reported herein is not to be construed as actual or implied endorsement of such products.
Signs of Speculation in the Monument Corridor
Case study on Gentrification and Displacement Pressures
in the Monument Corridor of Concord, CA
Located in the heart of Contra Costa County, the City
of Concord was primarily settled in the decades following World War II. Returning veterans viewed the
small-town feel and verdant land that expanded to the
foothills of Mount Diablo as a desirable and inexpensive place to settle. As its population grew exponentially over the next several decades, the land was quickly
consumed by suburban single-family homes. In 2010,
approximately 175,600 people resided in the City of
The city continuously prioritized policies that promoted
auto-dependency, accommodating its growing population by facilitating access between housing subdivisions and the highway through the expansion of
thoroughfares and widening of streets. Though BART
opened its Downtown Concord station in 1973, it has
largely remained underutilized. The city’s development
of office parks downtown was instead paired with the
dedication of funds for the construction of parking garages around the periphery of the commercial corridor
(Dymond, 2000).
The city failed to link the BART station to its commercial and residential nodes (Waterhouse, 1973). Office
tenants began to leave Concord in the 1980s, and
the once booming downtown now holds empty office
buildings and underutilized storefronts. Without other
incentives to attract new residents or visitors to the city,
Concord has watched its neighbors in the region prosper, while its own tax base lags behind and its population growth stagnates. Between 2002 and 2011, the
number of jobs located in the city has decreased by
9.6 percent, from 49,465 to 44,717 (US Census Bureau, 2014).
Despite these economic development challenges,
Concord real estate has grown more desirable in recent years, with housing prices on the rise since the
2007-2011 recession and new development throughout the city. In 2012, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) designated about 620 acres
Image 1. One of the many partially occupied office
buildings in Downtown Concord
around the Downtown BART station as a priority development area (PDA). PDAs are eligible to receive
funding that encourage transit oriented development
(TOD) and infill housing. As a result, Concord has
been working to craft a new Downtown Specific Plan
that will implement strategies to promote new downtown investment (City of Concord, 2014). At the heart
of the plan is the Downtown Concord BART station,
which the city envisions will be the vehicle to attract
new economic activity to Concord. To this effect, the
city has created a half-mile buffer around the BART
station, where it plans to improve pedestrian access
and intensify land uses to create an environment conducive to attracting new residents, jobs, and businesses to its core. In particular, Concord officials hope that
by promoting housing density within the PDA the city
will attract a new demographic to Concord, enabling it
to spur economic growth and to join its neighbors to
share in the prosperity of the Bay Area region.
With an increase in available resources for development, interest in downtown Concord is growing, spurring concern among affordable housing advocates.
The Bay Area has seen a steady rise in rents for the
past three years with Contra Costa County experiencing an 8% increase since the second quarter of 2011
(Carey, 2014). While TOD and infill housing development often seeks to address affordability issues, tran-
Center for Community Innovation, University of California, Berkeley
Monument Corridor Case Study
sit-development induced residential displacement can
be a potential impact. The Monument neighborhood
is one area of particular concern. A 3.8 square mile
area largely bounded by I-242 and Monument Boulevard, a central city artery that easily connects the highway to the downtown (Figure 6.1), this predominantly
low-income, Latino neighborhood may be vulnerable
to residential displacement. This case study analyzes
the demographic and housing characteristics of the
Monument over three decades to determine the potential impact of investment on neighborhood change
and residential displacement.
Case Methods
The case study relies on mixed methods to study demographic and housing stock characteristics of the
Monument from 1980 to 2013 to track physical and
socio-economic changes over time. We partnered with
Monument Impact, a community-based organization
(CBO) that has worked in the neighborhood for over
10 years, providing social services, educational programming, and employment training to the low-income
and immigrant community members. Data on neighborhood characteristics was primarily derived from the
decennial Census for the years 1980, 1990, 2000 and
2010, and from the American Community Survey for
the periods 2006-2010 and 2009-2013. With guidance
from our partners, we identified five census tracts that
best delineate the Monument neighborhood: 3361.01,
3361.02, 3362.01, 3362.02, and 3280. In addition,
sales and assessor data was collected from Dataquick.
The indicators presented in this case study are those
associated with processes of gentrification and residential displacement, and/or thought to influence susceptibility to such processes (Chapple, 2009)
The data used in this report was validated through
a qualitative “ground-truthing” methodology that involved a systematic survey via visual observation of
all residential parcels on a sample set of two blocks
within the case study area. The data gathered through
ground-truthing was subsequently compared to Census figures and sales data from the Contra County
Assessor’s Office, which was obtained through Dataquick, Inc.
Of the sample blocks’ 168 parcels recorded in the assessor dataset, field researchers were able to match
the parcel numbers of 68 percent and land use of 77
percent of parcels through ground-truthing.3 These results suggest that some error may exist in either the
Census or Assessor’s reported count of housing units
and unit type, likely due to rapid or unpermitted changes to parcels that may go unaccounted for.4 In order to
account for possible errors, we cross-referenced the
data with qualitative field observations, archival research, and interviews with key informants. Interviews
with local stakeholders provided differing and valuable
perspectives that informed our understanding about
the current political and social climate within the community and in the city as a whole. Archival research
provided context about key historical events that
shaped the city’s evolution. Finally, draft reports were
reviewed by Monument Impact to guarantee accuracy.
The Monument Community
The Monument neighborhood makes up 12% of the
total area and is the most populated region in the city
of Concord. The 2009-2013 American Community
Survey provides an estimate of around 24,000 residents. Since 1980 this figure has increased by 67%
(see Appendix A). Despite this huge jump, this number
is largely considered to be an underestimated figure.
Monument Impact estimates a figure closer to 37,000
residents. The discrepancy can likely be attributed to
the large number of undocumented residents, a population that typically remains undercounted in Census
due to fear that providing information to the Census
Bureau may alert Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Monument Impact, 2014).
Our comparison of the assessor data to the ground-truthing
data shows that Contra Costa County assessor records likely include some level of error, particularly for records of single-family
condominiums. The dataset was culled and adjusted to produce
a more accurate analysis of sales trends.
For example, this may include unpermitted informal housing
units such as garage conversions.
Figure 1. Map of the Monument study area
Center for Community Innovation, University of California, Berkeley
Monument Corridor Case Study
Since 1980, the Monument neighborhood has seen a
huge racial and ethnic demographic shift. The White
population has steadily declined over this period of
three decades while the Latino population has experienced considerable growth (See Figure 3). In 2010
Latinos comprised 63 percent of the population while
Whites only accounted for 20 percent. This is nearly
the inverse of the city’s racial and ethnic distribution,
which in 2013 consisted of 51 percent of Whites and
31 percent of Latinos (See Appendix).
Figure 2. Percentage of Native and Foreign born,
Source: American Community Survey 2009-2013
Educational attainment in the Monument has not seen
major increases in the college-educated population,
which is another marker of gentrification (See Appendix). This may indicate that large-scale displacement
has not yet occurred. However, this neighborhood
contains many precursors associated with gentrified
neighborhoods. For instance, the high percentage of
ethnic minorities in the Monument increases residential susceptibility to displacement. This is true even
when accounting for income (Newman & Wyly, 2006).
Additionally, from 2000 to 2013 nonfamily households
increased from 37% to 52% of total households, another marker of gentrification. Finally, residents in the
Monument are significantly poorer than the rest of the
city. In 2013 the Monument had a poverty rate of 23%
-- over twice the poverty rate of the city, which stood
at 9% (See Appendix). Median incomes in the Monument declined between 2000 and 2013 by 22 percent
(Figure 4).52
Figure 3. Residential Racial and Ethnic
Composition, Monument, 1980 to 2009-2013.
Source: U.S. Census 1980, 1990, 2000 (Geolytics, 2014);
American Community Survey 2009-2013.
The majority of the immigrant population are from
Mexico and Central America and tend to have lower
educational attainment and income than the rest of
the Concord population. Forty three percent of Monument residents were born abroad are non-naturalized. This figure differs greatly from the city of Concord
where only fourteen percent of the total population is
non-naturalized foreign born. This high foreign born
demographic in the Monument may explain the weak
political power of this community expressed in some
stakeholder interviews.
Figure 4. Median Household Income, Monument &
Concord, 1980 to 2009-2013 (In Constant 2010 Dollars)
Source: U.S. Census 1980, 1990, 2000 (Geolytics, 2014); American Community Survey 2009-2013
Average, rather than median, income are reported for 1980.
Center for Community Innovation, University of California, Berkeley
Monument Corridor Case Study
renter- and owner-occupied units that are overcrowded (See Appendix). Stakeholders who work closely
with community residents, however, tell a different
story. Several different stakeholders have recounted a
similar narrative about overcrowding in the Monument.
According to them, it is not uncommon for multiple
families to live under the same roof. In some shared
apartments, families sleep in separate bedrooms, but
according to one stakeholder, it is also not uncommon
for families or single adults to share rooms or occupy
living room spaces to cope with rising housing costs.
Figure 5. Housing Cost Burden in the Monument,
1980 to 2009-2013
Source: U.S. Census 1980, 1990, 2000 (Geolytics, 2014); American Community Survey 2009-2013
Figure 6. Occupied Units by Tenure, Monument vs.
Concord, 2009-2013
Source: American Community Survey 2009-2013
With increasing costs of rent, the gap between income and median rents has widened at a rapid rate.
The median gross rent increased by 15 percent when
adjusted for inflation, from $948 in 2000 to $1,167
in 2013. As a result of these trends, the percentage
of rent-burdened households in the Monument has
grown as well. In 2000, 49 percent of households were
rent-burdened, meaning the household paid 30 percent or more of their income on rent (Figure 5).6 Already a high figure, by 2013 60 percent of households
suffer from rent- burden. 3
Even though the rate of overburdened households
increased between 2000 and 2013, Census data appears to show that there was a decline in the number of
Since 1980, tenure split has remained constant in the
Monument and in Concord overall (see Appendix). The
tenure split is drastically different, between the two areas, however. As seen in Figure 6, 81% of Monument
residents rent while only 39% of residents in Concord
rent. Renters are at greater risk of displacement than
homeowners, especially since Concord has few tenant
protections, making Monument residents very vulnerable to displacement pressures.
Vacancy in the Monument has increased dramatically
from 2000 to 2013, jumping from 3% to 9% over the 13
years (Table 1). The higher vacancy rate is likely due
to the housing crisis and recession of 2008. Concord’s
vacancy rate is much lower, at 6.5% in 2013. A higher
vacancy rate can signify disinvestment in the Monument, which can ultimately lead to gentrification. Landlords may prefer to leave units empty instead of dealing with maintenance or until the market rebounds. In
turn, developers can purchase land/buildings cheaply
and still make an acceptable profit after the cost of
rehabilitation (Smith, 1979). The fact that Concord’s
vacancy rate in 2013 was much lower suggests that
the Monument residents may be faced with this type
of disinvestment.
Table 1. Monument, Housing Units & Vacancy Rate
Vacant Units
2009- 2013
Source: U.S. Census 1980, 1990, 2000 (Geolytics, 2014);
American Community Survey 2009-2013
Average, rather than median, rents are reported for 1980.
Center for Community Innovation, University of California, Berkeley
Monument Corridor Case Study
Table 2. Rate of Foreclosure,
Monument vs. Concord
Units (2000
& 2010)
Rate of
Source: U.S. Census 2000 & 2010, American Community Survey
2006-2010, Zillow 2014.
An analysis of foreclosure data collected from the
height of the housing crisis revealed that like much
of California, Concord and the Monument community
were impacted by the decline of the housing market
and the economic recession. Using the 2000 and 2010
average of owner-occupied units as proxies to estimate the rate of units in foreclosure, we found the rate
of foreclosure in the Monument was almost four times
greater than the rate of foreclosure in Concord. While
a 23% foreclosure rate in the Monument is a very
large figure, it is likely a conservative estimate. The
three years only represent a snapshot of the housing
crisis that arguably lasted at least five to seven years
or more when considering the lingering effects of the
economic recession.
The Housing Market
Heats Up
Stakeholders have indicated that evictions due to foreclosure are no longer a problem, but without mechanisms in place to safeguard against rent spikes and to
protect tenants against unfair evictions, tenants’ residential stability is tenuous, at best. Homebuyers and
investors that have acquired foreclosed properties in
the Monument paid rock-bottom prices; but values are
rapidly beginning to recover. Concord’s home values
experienced an 8.6% increase in home value from
2013 (Zillow, 2014). According to RealtyTrac, the estimated monthly mortgage payment in the Monument
is $1,079, while the average rent for a three-bedroom
house is $1,740. A stakeholder from a service organi-
zation confirmed that it is increasingly becoming commonplace for residents to pay upwards of $1,500 for a
small, rundown apartment in the Monument.
Aside from growing rents, Monument residents face
hurtles to owning a home as homeownership is being
catered to attract a younger and wealthier demographic. A news article published by SFGate in February
2014 entitled “Oakland, Concord among top cities to
flip to hipsters,” highlights Concord as a desired location for “home flipping,” whereby a homebuyer purchases a property with no intent to occupy it (Erwert,
2014). Instead, the objective is to resell the property
quickly, and at a higher price than what was originally
paid for it. The article goes on to provide a four-step
“how-to” info-graphic, attributed to RealtyTrac that explains the process:
1. Identify hot hipster housing market with good
profit on flip.
2. Find foreclosure homes or other bargain buys.
3. Rehab to hipster tastes.
4. List + market the home. Close the deal.
Monument’s zip code, 94520, is specifically listed within the top 10 hipster housing markets with good returns
on flips. This is not surprising considering the neighborhood’s high foreclosure rate. As a methodology, the
article explains how RealtyTrac filtered zip codes by
15 percent of the population with an age group of 25
to 34 and where 15 percent take public transit or walk
to work. Finally, if the median home prices that are no
more than five times the median income of the neighborhood and at least 10 homes have flipped in 2013,
the zip code is considered prime for hipster flipping.
With steep declines in the average sales prices for
both single family and multi-family residential properties in 2008 (Figures 7 and 8), Monument’s housing
market became extremely advantageous for real estate investors and developers. The area’s profit opportunity has increasingly drawn their attention, and
prominent markers of change, such as two newly constructed high-rise apartment buildings, can be found
throughout the neighborhood.
Center for Community Innovation, University of California, Berkeley
Monument Corridor Case Study
Investment for the New,
Neglect for the Old
Figure 7. City and County Sales Price per
Square Foot, 1988-2012
Source: Zillow 2014.
Figure 8. Monument Average Sales Price per
Square Foot, 1990 to 2013
Source: Dataquick 2014.
Mnay of the post-recession housing opportunities are
advertised for a wealthier population coming from
neighboring cities. Low-income residents living in disinvested communities, such as those in the Monument,
are unlikely to reap the benefits. The discrepancy between investment for outsiders and disinvestment in
current residents is highlighted through stakeholder
interviews. A landlord who owns a large apartment
complex on the edge of the neighborhood spoke without qualms about their intention to continually mark-up
rents. While this developer certainly warrants competitive rates in return for their investment into the property,
they are also not bashful about their motivations and
interests. Even though they believe BART in downtown
Concord to be a “waste of money,” they do not hesitate
to use their complex’s proximity to BART as a marketing tool, aiming to “cater to the laptop crowd” that
commutes via BART to work in San Francisco. Though
the complex is located within the Monument community, this developer has willfully dissociated the complex
from the Monument, and they proudly describe how
they “got rid of… the 99% Latino” population that formerly lived in the complex. Ultimately, they plan to convert the units into condominiums and sell them once
the market picks up again.
This developer’s intention demonstrates the potential
for neighborhood change in the Monument community, moving towards more expensive rental housing
and catering to a more highly educated, higher wage
earning demographic. Their comments reveal the imbedded racial tensions of residential displacement associated with gentrification. As developers, real estate
agents and other actors cater to the younger, affluent
White population, communities of color are either displaced or excluded from the benefits of an improving
Meanwhile, as rents are increasing the quality of life
is not necessarily improving. Interviews revealed a severe bed bug infestation that plagues the multi-family
units where low-income residents live.
Figure 9. Average Rent per Square Foot,
Monument vs. Concord, 2010 to 2013
Source: Zillow 2014.
According to a stakeholder interviewed from a tenants’
rights advocacy organization, the bed bug infestation
has been a problem in the Monument for almost two
Center for Community Innovation, University of California, Berkeley
Monument Corridor Case Study
Because of the area’s profit potential and desire of developers to bring in new residents who will pay higher
rents, some stakeholders see the combination of neglect and lack of tenant protections as a means for
property owners to intentionally push current residents
Challenges to Affordable
Housing Production
Image 2. A Luxury Apartment Complex Located in
Downtown Concord
years. The City’s reluctance to address the issue, they
believe, stems from a refusal to acknowledge it as a
public health concern, placing responsibility on individual landlords while simultaneously refusing to hold
them accountable through citations. Several stakeholders have mentioned that tenants in the Monument
do not feel well represented by local elected officials.
Pushed by the continued backing from a tenants’ rights
advocacy organization, the City of Concord enacted a
bed bug policy in late March of 2014 acknowledging
bed bugs as a nuisance and enabling code enforcement to issue citations to landlords who refuse to mitigate the bed bug issue in their buildings (Bed Bug
Response Pilot Program, March 2014). Still, because
code enforcement is managed by the local police department, many tenants who are undocumented immigrants and unfamiliar with their legal rights, remain
fearful about drawing attention to themselves. They
fear deportation or that unsanctioned living conditions
like overcrowding, if discovered, will lead to eviction.
Even when residents have brought issues to property
managers, community organizations have also found
that managers often fail to raise these concerns with
the property owners, effectively serving as a “cover”
for the owners who do not comply with housing codes.
In other cases, residents have decided to move out,
feeling that it is the only means of dealing with an issue.
Neglect of Monument housing is coupled with the fact
that Concord does not have any tenant protection policies in place. The city has no rent stabilization policy
nor do they have a just cause eviction ordinance. In
addition, there is also no system in place at the city
level to track evictions in Concord. Without these and
other tenant protections, it will be difficult for residents
to take advantage of this new Bed Bug policy.
Like the rest of the Bay Area, there has not been
enough new housing production in Concord to meet
the needs of current and potential residents. From
2007-2014, very few units have been built in Concord
and of these units, almost all are above moderate-income housing (Housing Element, 2010). Concord has
fallen short of its regional housing needs allocation
(RHNA) for 2007-2014. In addition, there is recognition
that there is a shortage of very low- and low-income
housing units in Concord. While there are currently
1,031 subsidized housing units in the Monument—a
significant increase since 1980 (Figure 10)—the need
for more affordable housing units persists.
In the 2010 Housing Element plan, the city conducted
an analysis of the previous plan from 2003 and found
that despite the land available for affordable housing,
the city did not produce enough units in the very low-,
low-, and moderate-income categories. Concord only
produced 35 percent of its RHNA for these three categories (Housing Element, 2010). Additionally, 80% of
units counted towards the RHNA were rehabilitation of
old units and not new housing. However, in the same
time frame, the City did produce more than twice the
amount required for above-moderate income housing
Figure 10. Subsidized Housing Units in the
Monument, 1980 to 2010
Source: California Housing Partnership Corporation 2014
Center for Community Innovation, University of California, Berkeley
Monument Corridor Case Study
The City of Concord has policies that have been put in
place recently in order to encourage development. The
Concord housing element includes two overlay zones
for Concord - an affordable housing overlay zone and
a transit station overlay district. The transit station
overlay district has only been in effect since August
2012 and was created to promote increased residential density and commercial activity within a half-mile
of the perimeter of the Downtown Concord BART
station. The development code for the transit station
overlay district specifies that the maximum density of
the base district can be increased up to 25 percent for
residential projects.
As a result of efforts from prominent housing advocacy
organizations in the East Bay, the Concord 2010 Housing Element included an affordable housing overlay
zone. This overlay zone was put in place to incentivize
affording housing development and to encourage affordable housing developers to build developments in
areas of Concord where multifamily residential housing is permitted. The city has since shifted to an Affordable Housing Incentive Program, which was adopted
as part of the City’s Development Code update in
2012 (Ryan 2015). This program allows for additional
incentives for projects that include affordable units and
allows for additional density bonuses. Under the eligibility guidelines for this program, a rental project must
have at least 40% affordable units - at least 20% must
be affordable to very low-income households while
at least another 20% must be affordable to very low
or low-income households (Housing Element, 2010).
While no affordable units have been built in the overlay
zone yet, staff from Concord’s Community and Economic Development Department note that the City has
experienced recent interest from developers since its
Downtown Specific Plan was adopted in June 2014.
Aside from the affordable housing incentive program,
the zoning code outlines the parameters for the inclusionary housing ordinance and the density bonus program. Under the inclusionary housing ordinance both
rental and ownership projects are required to include
10% of low-income housing or 6% of very low-income
housing. If eligible, developers have the option of paying in-lieu fees instead of providing inclusionary units
in a project. These fees go into a city general fund dedicated to affordable housing and can also be used for
administering affordable housing programs. To mitigate
the financial impacts of the inclusionary housing ordinance, the City may grant the following incentives for
affordable housing development: financial assistance,
density bonus, and expedited application processing.
Despite having policies in place to promote housing
production, a very low supply of affordable housing
is being built in Concord. Staff report that no units
have been added to development projects through the
density bonus ordinance, which was adopted in 2012
(Ryan 2015). The lack of affordable housing construction, however, is in line with overall construction trends;
approximately only 10 infill residential units have been
built in Concord since 2012 (Ryan 2015).
Even if housing production starts to pick up in Downtown Concord, the City’s desperation for any kind of
development may result in acquiescence to the preferences of developers who may opt to exclude affordable housing from the development, despite the
incentive measures in place. Second, there is a perception that Concord is “naturally affordable” due to
the lower rental costs in Concord compared to other
parts of the Bay Area such as San Francisco. According to a City staff member, Concord has plenty of the
“affordable” housing products and what it is missing is
the “market-rate type of product.” The language in the
2010 Housing Element reflects this view despite evidence that the “naturally affordable” housing may be
at risk of moving into this higher market rate category.
A key finding of the housing needs analysis was that
“Housing cost has become more affordable compared
to three or four years ago, during the peak of the San
Francisco Bay Area housing boom” (Housing Element,
2010). The city concludes this despite the fact that real
income has gone down since 2000 and housing-burden as increased.
There is a discrepancy among city officials between
the acknowledged low supply of affordable housing
in Concord and what the city really wants, which is
more economic development and housing, especially
market-rate housing. According to one city stakeholder, Concord wants the downtown area to be a “robust
economic engine that operates 24/7 with residents
living there and enjoying the amenities of downtown”.
This requires drawing in new residents who can afford
to live in these potential market-rate developments
and who would want the type of lifestyle that would
require a downtown to be bustling 24/7. Lastly, even
though these affordable housing incentive polices are
incorporated into the city’s housing element and development code, which gives them more authority, stakeholders expressed concern that the local city government lacks the political will to address the affordable
housing situation.
Center for Community Innovation, University of California, Berkeley
Monument Corridor Case Study
For a long time, Monument residents lacked a voice
and weren’t included in the city’s decision-making process. These issues have largely been influenced by the
demographic characteristics of Monument residents,
which discourage them from interacting with local officials. Despite these challenges, there is a growing
grassroots movement in Concord demanding protection for residents in the Monument. Community-based
organizations such as Monument Impact have made
significant strides in building residents’ capacity to advocate for themselves and fostering a culture of civic
engagement through leadership development programs, neighborhood action teams, and a range of
skills-building workshops. A tenants’ rights advocacy
organization is currently trying to “create a culture of
fighting back” and “build a tenants’ rights movement”
in Concord.
For a community that has historically been afraid to
speak up about injustices, strengthening the advocacy and organizing capacity of these residents is the
first step to building a stronger voice for Monument
residents. Monument residents and organizations that
serve them were not an integral part of the Downtown
Concord planning process due to the disconnect between development in downtown and its implications
for Monument residents.
The data shows that Monument residents have many
characteristics of neighborhoods at risk of gentrification including a large ethnic minority population and a
very high renter population. Residents suffer from extremely high rent burden and the neighborhood suffers
from a high vacancy rate, a potential indicator of disinvestment. Developers are capitalizing on the impact
of the housing crisis through “home flipping” strategies
meant to attract a white, young, and wealthier population.
Multiple stakeholders who were interviewed as part
of this case study expressed that the diversity of residents is one of the city’s key strengths. In recent decades, the Monument has served as a point of arrival
for immigrants to the Bay area that search for better
opportunities. Like so many of its neighbors in the region, the loss of affordable housing in Concord and
especially in the Monument is threatening to fundamentally change the character of the city and displace
residents who already have limited access to housing
Concord is at a critical juncture where it can alter its
trajectory by electing to protect its most vulnerable
community. If Concord officials truly value diversity,
they will safeguard measures to allow all residents to
prosper from the economic growth that results from
the downtown plan.
Center for Community Innovation, University of California, Berkeley
Monument Corridor Case Study
Works Cited
California Housing Partnership Corporation 2014. Affordable Housing Database.
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City of Concord. (2014). Bed Bug Strategy Pilot Program.
City of Concord. (2014). Concord, CA | Downtown Specific Plan Project. Retrieved May 14, 2014, from http://
City of Concord Development Code Article III. Overlay Zoning Districts. (2012, August 23). Retrieved from
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Erwert, A. M. (2014, February 10). Oakland, Concord among top cities to “flip to hipsters.” SF Gate. Re
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Ryan, Joan. (City of Concord Senior Planner, Community and Economic Development Department). 2015. Email Communication. “Affordable Housing Incentive Program,” February 10.
Waterhouse, Steve. No Bart to Home Transit Link To Strand Thousands Contra Costa Times May 3, 1973
US Census Bureau. Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics: OnTheMap. 2014
Zillow. “Concord Home Prices & Values.” (Data through May 31, 2014) Retrieved July 20, 2014.
Center for Community Innovation, University of California, Berkeley
Monument Corridor Case Study
Appendix A: Monument
Neighborhood Data
Table 1A: Total Population, Monument versus
Concord (1980-2010)
Percent change
Figure 2A: Monument Educational Attainment by
Percent, 1980 - 2010
Source: U.S. Census 1980, 1990, 2000; American Community
Survey 2006-2010 (Geolytics, 2014)
Table 3A: Poverty Rate in Monument
and Concord, 1980-2010
Table 2A: Percent of Young Adults in the
Monument, 1980-2010
years old
years old
years old
Source: U.S. Census 1980, 1990, 2000; American Community
Survey 2006-2010 (Geolytics, 2014)
Figure 1A: Monument Family and Nonfamily
Households by Percent, 1980-2010
Source: U.S. Census 1980, 1990, 2000; American Community
Survey 2006-2010 (Geolytics, 2014
People in
Percent of
People in
Percent of
Figure 3A: Median Gross Rents in the Monument
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Monument Corridor Case Study
Table 4A: Occupied Housing Units Where
Householder Moved In Within Past Year
Number of units
Share of Total
ACS 2008-2012
Figure 7A. Housing Unit Type, Monument
Source: U.S. Census 1980, 1990, 2000; American Community
Survey 2006-2010 (Geolytics, 2014)
Figure 4A: Percent of Households in
Overcrowded Conditions, 2000 & 2010
Figure 8A. Homeowner Occupied by Race,
Monument (1980-2010)
Source: U.S. Census 1980, 1990, 2000; American Community
Survey 2006-2010 (Geolytics, 2014)
*Non-Latino Whites except for 1980
Figure 5A: Pre-War Housing by Percent,
2006-2010 ACS
Figure 6A. Housing Tenure in the Monument
Figure 9A. Renter-Occupied Units by Race,
Monument (1980-2010)
Source: U.S. Census 1980, 1990, 2000; American Community
Survey 2006-2010 (Geolytics, 2014)
*Non-Latino Whites except for 1980
Center for Community Innovation, University of California, Berkeley
Monument Corridor Case Study
Appendix B:
Methodology and Results
Because visual indicators of neighborhood change
most likely vary from block to block – and even parcel
to parcel – the three blocks selected as a sample for
visual observation were chosen based on the likelihood that we would be able to systematically observe
indicators of neighborhood change and/or vulnerability
to gentrification.7 Criteria used to select blocks included higher than average percentage change in tenure
(from owner-occupancy to renter-occupancy or vice
versa),8 percentage of white residents, and percentage of parcels sold since 2012.9 Researchers further
narrowed the sample pool by working with the project’s
CBO partner, Monument Impact, to identify specific
blocks that, based on the organization’s work with the
Monument community, staff know have experienced
recent change. Finally, logistical considerations, such
as land area as well as number of parcels on each
block, were also taken into account. 4
On October 26, 2014, two researchers from the Center
for Community Innovation (CCI), along with two staff
members of Monument Impact (also Monument residents) surveyed three blocks, 1001, 2007 and 1003.
On January 15, 2015, one of the CCI researchers
and one of the Monument Impact staff members went
back to survey a final block, 3005 in Tract 33602.02.10
As part of the ground-truthing exercise, researchers
observed and recorded a range of variables for all
parcels11 on three different Census blocks in three
different tracts within the Monument case study area.
These include the primary land use, building type
(multi-family, single-family, business, etc.), the number of units it appears to hold, and indicators of recent
investment such as permanent blinds and updated
paint. Researchers also looked for signs of concern
over safety, such as security alarm signage or barred
The same survey tool (Appendix, page 18) was used to groundtruth all nine case study areas. Prior to observation in the field,
researchers refined the tool and calibrated their responses by
conducting two rounds of pilot observations.
According to 2000 and 2010 Census data.
According to County Assessor Data.
The ground-truthing data from this block was not used in the
evaluation of the assessor data.
The parcel numbers used to organize this data come from the
Boundary Solutions data set, which is current as of March 7,
windows, as well as signs of disinvestment, such as
litter or debris, boarded windows, or peeling paint. The
data gathered through this process is referred to in this
memo as “ground-truthing data.”
The ground-truthing exercise is meant to provide an
additional set of data to verify conclusions reached
through analyzing assessor and Census data. Complicating this effort is that the data sets do not have
the same set of parcels (Table 1). All data reported
from the assessor data (Dataquick) includes all parcels in that set; likewise, all data reported from the
ground-truthing data collection includes all parcels
in that set (which is based on parcels from Boundary
Solutions). For two variables—land use and number of
units—comparisons are made on a parcel-by-parcel
basis; only parcels that appear in both data sets are
used for this comparison. Census data is not provided
on a parcel level, and so includes all households surveyed by the Census.
Table 1: Parcel Mismatch Among Datasets
Block and Tract
# Parcels in
Assessor But Not
# Parcels Groundtruthed but not in
Assessor data
Block 1001
Tract 3361.01
39 / 87
2 / 51
Block 2007
Tract 3362.01
9 / 29
5 / 27
Block 1003
Tract 3362.02
5 / 52
2 / 51
The largest discrepancy between the two datasets appears in Block 1000. Here, 34 of the 39 parcels from
the assessor data that do not appear in the groundtruth data are part of one condominium complex (1790
Ellis Street). The Boundary Solutions data set had a
total of 19 parcels at this address – much fewer than
the number of parcels at this address in the Assessor Data. While observations were only recorded for
the 19 available Boundary Solutions parcel numbers,
based on the number of mailboxes, researchers reported 52 units in the complex; this number is closer
to the assessor data’s record of the number of parcels
at 1790 Ellis. A possible explanation for the discrepancy between the Boundary Solutions and Assessor
datasets is that a number of units in the complex were
converted into condos after Boundary Solutions had
last been updated in 2012. The discrepancy may also
be some duplicate listings of condos at the 1790 Ellis
Street address within the assessor data.
Center for Community Innovation, University of California, Berkeley
Monument Corridor Case Study
Table 2: Sales History of Parcels since Construction
Median Year of
Median Year of Last
Median Sale Price
Median Sale Price Per
Square Foot
Source: Dataquick, 2014. These figures refer to all parcels in the area, including non-residential uses.
Table 3: Sales History of Parcels Sold Since 2007 and 2010
Percent Sold
Percent Sold
Median sales price
per square foot if sold
2007 or later
Median sales price
per square foot if sold
2010 or later
Source: Dataquick, 2014. These figures refer to all parcels in the area, including non-residential uses.
Table 4: Indicators of Neighborhood Change: Census Data/Demographics, 2000 -20105
Growth (Percentage
Average House- Percent Change Percent Change Percent Change Percent Change
in Percent His- in Percent Fam- in Percent Renthold Size
in Percent
ily Households
al Units
Table 5: Census Data/Demographics, 2010
Rental Units
For the blocks, this figure refers to all Whites of one race, including those that are Hispanic. For the Monument and Concord figures, it refers to Non-Hispanic Whites. The “Percent Change” figures all compare percentages over time; for example, in the Monument, the percent Non-Hispanic White in 2000 was 33%, which decreased to 20% in 2010—a 36% change.
In 2010, the US Census Bureau split the boundaries of the 2000 Census Block in this area (Block 6003) into two separate blocks.
Because 2000 Census data could not be parsed to isolate the 2010 block boundary, figures for this block are thus skewed, showing
the change between the larger geography of Block 6003 for the year 2000 and only part of this geography (Block 1003), in 2010.
To provide a point of comparison, this row uses combined data for the two 2010 blocks (Blocks 1003 and 1004) that comprised the
original 2000 block (Block 6003) and compares it to the census data for the full 2000 block. 12
Center for Community Innovation, University of California, Berkeley
Monument Corridor Case Study
Table 5: Summary of Parcel Matches and Primary Land Use
Primary Land
Use, based on
Percent Land
Use Matched
detached, half
Total Number of Units on Block
Percent of
Parcels whose
Number of Units
Assessor Data
and Visual Observation
Assessor Data
– Dataquick
Observations on
Census Data:
Total Housing
Units – 2010
89% 15
95% 16
Almost all
Note: Percent Land Use Matched and Percent Units Matched take as their denominator only those parcels for which a land use or
number of units was indicated by both assessor data and ground-truth data.
Validity of Assessor Data6
The parcel data from the Contra Costa County Assessor’s office appears to have a few minor issues. Our
comparison of the assessor data to the ground-truthing data shows that most of these issues relate to
attached single-family condominiums. In the case of
1790 Ellis Street, each unit (numbered 1 through 52) is
recorded only once within the assessor data, but four
of the 52 entries list the number of units as 52 rather than 1. Other discrepancies between the assessor data and ground-truthing data can be attributed to
differences between the Boundary Solutions shapefile
data and the Dataquick dataset, which do not present
any problems for the overall research since it only uses
the Dataquick dataset. Some discrepancies, primarily
those related to differences in land use type, are due
to human error in during the ground-truthing process.
Indicators of Gentrification or Displacement
Notable signs of possible gentrification differ from
block to block. On the blocks with primarily single-family homes, these include new paint and other structural
upgrades such as new roofing, new windows, and new
landscaping that appear to indicate a change in ownership. On the block that had several large multi-family
complexes (both apartments and condos), the most
visible sign of gentrification was the remodeling of an
entire complex, which was confirmed by stakeholder
interviews. This interview revealed that residents in
this particular building have been displaced due to
pressure from the new landlord that has led to attrition.
This discrepancy is primarily due to parcels classified as
multi-family that researchers perceived as single-family while
The discrepancy between the three data sets appears to be
due to an error with the assessor data. Dataquick shows multiple listings of 52 units at 1790 Ellis Street as one parcel, as well
as individual listings for each of the units at this address, which
results in a much higher unit count than the ground-truthing
and census data.
Center for Community Innovation, University of California, Berkeley
Monument Corridor Case Study
Broad Observations of the Monument from
Residential blocks within the Monument vary greatly in
land use type, levels of investment, and demographics. According to Census data some areas observed
have a very large Latino majority population, while a
few are primarily White. From our field observation,
we were only able to identify a few signifiers that seem
to confirm these demographics, such as the presence
of American flags outside homes, Spanish music overheard from homes, and limited interaction with residents. From what we were able to observe, these majority White blocks appear to be more likely blocks of
single-family homes rather than apartments or condos.
Conversations with our ground-truthing partners from
Monument Impact reveal that the most vulnerable residents are renters, as the City as a whole has faced
significant issues with landlords who fail to respond to
tenants concerns (which led to the passage of Concord’s bed bug ordinance), engage in intimidation of
tenants, and who do not have to be held accountable
to a just cause eviction policy. Staff from Monument
impact also have observed that many tenants are
struggling with regularly increasing rents, with many
coping by living together in overcrowded quarters.
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Monument Corridor Case Study

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