Although early Oakland history is characterized by a decided lack of planning, for most of Oakland's history, detailed, large-scale plans have shaped the built environment we see today.

In 1913, Dr. Werner Hegemann was invited to the US by the People's Institute of New York to survey and help promote planning efforts in American cities. His Report on a City Plan for the Municipalities of Oakland & Berkeley was published in 1915, under the auspices of the Oakland, Berkeley, and Alameda County governments; the Oakland chamber of commerce; the Berkeley civic art commission; and the City Club of Berkeley.

In 1938, the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) provided four employees for the Oakland Planning Commission, for a total budget of $5419.28 (WPA projects #8459 and #10077). A report on the first year of activity covered adjustments cases, population characteristics and distribution, a property absorption survey, non-conforming land use, subdivision control, and low-rent housing. In March 1941, a California Planning Commission meeting about establishing a bay area planning district drew more than 100 attendees; this was accompanied by a study of the issue by the Bureau of Public Administration at the University of California.

This seems to have kicked off an effort to develop a Master Plan for the development of Oakland over a 30-40 year span. (As of this writing, I haven't been able to determine whether a comprehensive Master Plan ever emerged.)

On April 10, 1957, the City Planning Commission (then chaired by Edward S. Waldie) published a public-oriented, 33 page report called "Oakland's Future." It characterized its purpose as "an initial step in reviewing the adopted sections of the Oakland Master Plan and in the preparation and completion of the remaining sections," and called for public input. It noted that general policy guides had already been adopted, including:

Related efforts