Activists blast SF investment for low-income residents in thriving Bayview 

click to enlarge Members of the SEIU, The City’s largest labor union, voiced concerns that Bayview-Hunters Point residents are becoming part of gentrification in San Francisco. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • mike koozmin/the s.f. examiner
  • Members of the SEIU, The City’s largest labor union, voiced concerns that Bayview-Hunters Point residents are becoming part of gentrification in San Francisco.

The hottest neighborhood for real estate in San Francisco is also The City's epicenter for violence and income inequality -- and the ills are falling hardest on struggling people with black and brown faces.

That message was among the tough talk delivered by elected officials and political hopefuls at a motley news conference Friday in Mendell Plaza in the Bayview, organized by The City's largest labor union.

The Bayview has the fastest-growing home prices at the same time it has most of The City's homicides, activists and politicians at the rally noted. Echoing longstanding area concerns, they argued that the leadership of America's wealthiest city, with its focus on a tech-fueled economic boom, is neglecting and failing low-income neighborhood residents.

"We gave a $27 million tax break to Twitter. Where are the jobs for the Bayview?" asked Supervisor David Campos, who is running for state Assembly.

"San Francisco is the wealthiest city in this country ... and we have the fastest-growing inequality in the country," he added. And "there is no agenda out of City Hall" to address it, he said.

Twelve of The City's 24 homicides so far this year were in District 10 -- Bayview-Hunters Point, Potrero Hill and Visitacion Valley -- where much of The City's low-rise public housing is located. One high-profile incident was the daylight killing of a 32-year-old former gang member in a crowded playground near the Sunnydale projects.

Meanwhile, home prices have risen 69 percent in the Bayview over the past two years, real estate officials said last month. A 19th-century home on McKinnon Avenue -- not far away from the public-housing unit where investigators said lead problems and fire-safety issues may have contributed to the deaths of a mother and a son in April -- was sold for $1.3 million.

But at the same time as leaders including Mayor Ed Lee celebrate The City's record-low unemployment, there is a well-documented disparity: unemployment in the 94124 ZIP code, which comprises most of the Bayview, is nearly 17 percent, according to the American Community Survey, about four times the jobless rate for The City as a whole.

Under The City's current economic situation, some areas are experiencing record-low unemployment, while others are seeing shrinking job prospects and astronomical real estate prices.

Although there has been a tech boom, most of the industry jobs are going to white or Asian males, according to demographic reports issued from companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook.

With Lee a bold booster of The City's tech industry, which is seen as both the harbinger of economic good times and the displacement that comes along with the ensuing gentrification, his administration is receiving criticism.

Still, Lee spokeswoman Christine Falvey noted how some jobs have materialized out of City Hall: about 7,000 San Francisco youths found work this summer through the mayor's summer jobs program. She added that Lee's budget this fiscal year included money to assign more police to the Bayview Police Station.

"The mayor's whole agenda this year is affordability," added Falvey, noting that Lee is backing an effort to raise the minimum wage to $15 and repeating Lee's audacious promise that 30,000 housing units would be rehabilitated or built by 2020, with many set aside as below market rate.

But that may be too little too late for some black activists, who -- ever since The Fillmore was razed in the 1960s under redevelopment -- have said San Francisco has had it out for them.

"Black and brown people have no rights at all in San Francisco. Poor people, women and children, are living in shantytowns like the ones in [apartheid-era] South Africa," said Phelicia Jones, a union activist with Service Employees International Union 1021. "There's a concerted effort to remove people of color from The City -- it's called gentrification."

Supervisor Malia Cohen, a neighborhood native who represents the Bayview, did not attend Friday's news conference, but several of the candidates vying to replace her in the November election did.

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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