Jason Zimmerman – Master’s Thesis, Geography, San Francisco State University

(Pages can be downloaded by clicking the heading for each section.  The entire thesis can be downloaded by clicking here.)

This website contains the thesis I completed as part of a Master’s degree in Geography at San Francisco State University. It is an attempt to analyze the extent of gentrification that occurred in West Oakland between 1998 and 2008, as well as some efforts among neighborhood residents to manage or mitigate against the more detrimental effects of the process.

Gentrification is a process in which higher-income residents replace, or displace, those with lower incomes. Primarily rooted in speculation in housing and commercial real estate markets, its force derives initially from sources that are often far removed geographically and economically from the local neighborhoods most directly impacted, and therefore local efforts to halt its advance are usually limited in their efficacy. This thesis examines some of these limits as well and discusses briefly some of the more preventive measures that may be used by cities and residents to make both renters and homeowners less vulnerable to displacement in the future.

As I finished this thesis in the spring of 2009, the housing market and then the entire economy began a long nosedive, and investments into housing and commercial properties in neighborhoods like West Oakland evaporated early on in the downturn. Will the end of gentrification there open up opportunities for more viable housing and community development that is able to sustain itself outside of erratic market swings, or will living conditions in the neighborhood continue their general postwar pattern of decline?

Gentrification research typically suffers from a lack of data, particularly data that tracks the real problem of gentrification: the displacement from evictions and the resulting loss of community ties that lead to further movement out of neighborhoods like West Oakland. My research presented here was certainly limited by available data; my hope is that discussion can take place here about how we can more accurately research, assess, and ultimately use our research to halt gentrification. Any comments are welcome.

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~ by degentrification on February 14, 2010.

2 Responses to “Jason Zimmerman – Master’s Thesis, Geography, San Francisco State University”

  1. I would like to contact you. I”m doing research on gentrification in Santa Ana, California. Please contact me.

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