Asians, Latinos continue population climb in San Francisco 

San Francisco’s black exodus is continuing at breakneck speed, and its Latino population is growing slowly as California’s soars. Meanwhile, Asians now make up fully one-third of The City’s population, gaining steadily on the non-Hispanic white population.

Click on the photo to the right to see more census data.

As a whole, San Francisco’s population grew by just a few percentage points over the past decade, while California’s grew about 10 percent.

These were some of the takeaways from 2010 data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau about California’s population, race, ethnicity and housing.

While statewide black population declined by only about 18,000 people in the past 10 years, the losses in San Francisco accounted for two-thirds of that total. Fewer than one in 16 city residents is now black.

This exodus was the focus of a task force convened by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2007, which found that in San Francisco, the median income for blacks is half that of whites, while the arrest rate is twice that of all others combined.

The task force found that while people of all races leave The City, new blacks aren’t moving in to replace the departed. Part of this can be attributed to job opportunities and lack of affordable housing, but culture also plays into it.

“Although The City enjoys a reputation of being liberal and progressive, a lot of African-Americans didn’t feel The City lived up to its reputation when it came to race,” task force Chairman Fred Blackwell recalled Tuesday.

The task force made a series of recommendations, including improving The City’s education system and expanding housing opportunities. But Supervisor Malia Cohen, the Board of Supervisors’ sole black member, said some recommendations have not been executed well.

Cohen said the exodus is clearly related to class, but also to a sense among blacks that they simply don’t want to live here any more. And as more blacks leave, that feeling grows.

“Nobody wants to be the only one,” she said.

The news of The City’s changing makeup did not surprise Mayor Ed Lee, who said the increase in Asian-Americans is visible “all over The City.” He noted that Asian-American families, which once were concentrated in Chinatown, the Richmond and the Sunset, have spread into neighborhoods such as Bayview-Hunters Point and Visitacion Valley.

Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of policy think tank San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, said the exodus of some populations and the slow growth of others tells an environmental story as well. He noted that coastal, urban cities all grew slowly or declined, while Central  Valley cities such as Fresno, Sacramento and Bakersfield grew astronomically.

“From an environmental perspective, that’s exactly the opposite of what we would hope for, because we would want to channel as much growth to already urbanized areas, with transit infrastructure,” he said.


San Mateo County diversifies

San Mateo County was one of the slowest-growing counties in the state of California over the last decade, but the people who live in the suburban county have changed significantly.

According to numbers released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau, San Mateo County grew by just 1.6 percent in between April 1 2000 and April 2010 — a small fraction of the growth experienced by counties like Kern, San Joaquin and Tulare counties, all of which saw more than 20 percent growth, or Riverside County, which saw a whopping 41.7 percent growth.

But San Mateo County’s small growth rate belies migration trends that have changed the county’s demographic face enormously in the last 10 years.

San Mateo’s Latino population grew by 18 percent, and now makes up a quarter of the county’s residents. Asian communities grew even faster and account for another quarter of the population.

The proportion of non-Hispanic whites in the county dropped from about half the population to just 42.3 percent of it. And blacks, who have always accounted for a very small proportion of the county, shrunk further, now making up less than 3 percent of the population.


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