Study: San Francisco to Be ‘Lily White’ Enclave in 25 years

Bay to Breakers (Jack Says Relax / Flickr / CC / Cropped)
Jack Says Relax / Flickr / CC / Cropped

San Francisco prides itself on its image as a bastion of diversity and progressive politics. But according to a new study by the San Francisco Foundation, the city’s policies are rapidly ejecting blacks, Latinos and Asians to become a “lily white” island in a heavily diverse region over the next 25 years.

The study found that the population of African Americans in San Francisco was 13.4 percent in 1970. That made blacks the second largest ethnic group compared to whites at about 75 percent of the population. But by 2000, blacks’ share had fallen to about 8%, and by 2013 to just 6.1 percent of city residents. Whites fell to 50 percent, due to Asians moving up to 34 percent of the city’s residents, but are set to increase their share of the population as the city becomes more expensive and elite.

Neighborhood gentrification, soaring housing costs, and wages that are lagging well behind the cost of living are driving the change. Only the type of high-wage earners in professional and technical services and finance jobs, whose incomes more than doubled in the last 35 years, are expected to achieve the economic gains necessary to be able to afford to live in “The City” in 2040.

The SF Foundation predicts over the next 25 years that the percentage of Asian in San Francisco will fall from 34 percent to 28 percent of city residents, and the Latino population will dwindle from 15 percent to 12 percent. The result will be whites moving back up from 44 percent to over 58 percent.

The stark trend has not been missed by San Francisco residents.

Six days ago, 1,447 backers on Kickstarter raised $77,318 to film The Last Black Man in San Francisco. The story follows two San Francisco natives, Joe Talbot and Jimmie Fails, who grapple with race, class, displacement, and the importance of friendship. They watch the city’s politicians using sales tax revenues from their poor neighborhoods to offer fabulous tax incentives to high-tech companies, which then boot dwindling Latinos from the Mission District and blacks from the Fillmore District.


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