S.F. boom leaving many behind 

click to enlarge A mother sits beside her two children as she panhandles for money in the Financial District. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • A mother sits beside her two children as she panhandles for money in the Financial District.

Amid a rebounding San Francisco economy, attention is being brought to the inequity found in neglected neighborhoods where residents are more likely to be killed, drop out of school, suffer health complications at an early age and earn low incomes.

As The City attracts large, high-profile events such as the America’s Cup and Super Bowl L in 2016, and as a growing local technology industry drives the economic recovery, Supervisor John Avalos said San Francisco leaders must rethink how budget and policy decisions are being made at City Hall given the stark disparities among communities.

“The City doesn’t always make the decision that is going to serve the most impacted, where the need is greatest,” Avalos said. Instead, he said, the more organized and well-heeled constituencies benefit more and some neighborhoods are “actually falling behind in the resources that they should get.”

A new report, Phase 1: Socioeconomic Equity in the City of San Francisco, issued by Budget Analyst Harvey Rose, illustrates how residents in each of the 11 Board of Supervisors districts differ by race, education level and income. And it shows how everyday realities for these residents, such as available park space, can make them seem like different worlds.

Take District 8, which includes the upscale Noe Valley and Castro neighborhoods. It has the most public parks at 40. But in District 6, which includes the Tenderloin and South of Market, there are nine open spaces. District 9’s Mission neighborhood, meanwhile, has seven recreation centers compared to none in District 7, which comprises the neighborhoods west of Twin Peaks.

Violence is most prevalent in the southeastern neighborhoods making up District 10. Of last year’s 69 homicides, 27 were in the Bayview-Hunters Point, Visitacion Valley and Potrero neighborhoods, along with 195 of the reported 400 shootings without victims. There were 15 killings in the Tenderloin and SoMa, and 12 in District 11’s Excelsior neighborhood.

The southeastern neighborhoods also had the highest number of juveniles booked for criminal offenses last year, 108, while none of the other 10 districts had more than 36.

San Francisco’s inmates are predominately from the Tenderloin, Western Addition and Bayview-Hunters Point areas, based on those who provided ZIP codes when jailed. While black residents make up just 6 percent of San Francisco’s total population, a “striking” percentage are incarcerated — 56 percent of the 1,541 inmates last year were black compared to 34 percent white.

There are a large number of residents seemingly struggling to pay the bills in District 3, which includes Chinatown and North Beach, and District 6. Residents living in poverty make up 12 percent of the overall population at 96,550, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 count. The fewest residents in poverty were found in District 2’s Marina and Pacific Heights neighborhoods (6 percent) while District 6 has the most (22 percent).

The report, Avalos said, “Provides a baseline that we should work off.”  

Avalos said he may propose requiring the issuance of socio-economic equity reports for legislation the board votes on, similar to how The City currently issues economic impact reports for legislation affecting businesses. Rose also plans to issue a second report examining disparities in the distribution of city spending on social benefits.  

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