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Counter to the nationwide trend of a growing Latino population, Latinos left the Mission District in large numbers for more affordable places like the East Bay and the Excelsior, according to the 2010 Census.

Meanwhile, the number of the district’s white, black and Asian residents rose while the overall population dropped by 2,889 residents, or 4.8 percent, to 57,298.

Although San Francisco’s Latino population grew by 11 percent, there are now 6,670 fewer Latinos in the Mission, a 22 percent decrease from 2000.

Despite the decline, Latinos comprise 39 percent of the Mission District — down from nearly 50 percent in 2000, but still the highest concentration of Latinos in the city.

The Mission’s white residents increased by 1,450, or 4.7, percent from 2000, African Americans by 118, or 5.9 percent, and Asians by 400.

Mission Loc@l evaluated the population shift in 13 census tracks between 11th and Market and Cesar Chavez streets, and Dolores Street and Potrero Avenue.

The largest part of the Mission is represented by District 9 Supervisor David Campos, but parts are also represented by District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim and District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener.

Demographers and housing activists agreed that many Latinos were priced out of the Mission District from 1998 to early 2000, as the neighborhood grew increasingly expensive during the first dot-com boom. Even after the crash in early 2000, housing costs never fell significantly.

Experts also said that natural migration patterns played a role in the Latino exodus. Few blamed an undercount, but that possibility is being studied by the Census Bureau.

Modest increases in the Latino population in the southwestern part of San Francisco seem to confirm a change in the migration pattern. Belinda Reyes, an economist and director of the Cesar E. Chavez Institute at San Francisco State University, said that traditionally the Mission had been a destination for new immigrants because of the services and established migration networks.

The 2010 Census shows that “the Mission lost some importance as a receiving place,” Reyes said, which is natural even without an increase in housing prices. Once established, immigrants tend to move from the city to the suburbs.

The Mission’s status as a destination neighborhood for new Latino immigrants could be overtaken by places like the Excelsior, which gained about 1,800 new Latino residents, and  Bayview Hunters Point, which saw an increase of about 2,000, according to the 2010 Census.

Demographer Hans Johnson said that with the sharp increases in housing prices here, “It’s not surprising you see an increase in more affordable neighborhoods.”

The change in migration patterns was also reflected in a recent study by the city’s Planning Department that used the 2010 Census as well as the Census’ American Community Survey.

It showed the proportion of foreign-born residents in District 9 dropping from 47 percent to 39 percent of the population.

Despite losing its standing as the main destination neighborhood for new immigrants, the Mission still has many organizations that serve them — but others are rapidly forming in the East Bay and elsewhere, Reyes said.

While the decrease of Latinos in the Mission was not a surprise, it was unusual given the growth pattern for the city, the state and even the nation, where the Latino population is on the rise, demographers said.

San Francisco’s Latino population increased by 11 percent, California’s by 27 percent and the United States’ by 43 percent.

Other strong Latino neighborhoods in the state reflected the nationwide pattern of growth. For example, Latinos maintained strong numbers in east Los Angeles and grew considerably in south central Los Angeles, a traditionally African American neighborhood, said Johnson, the demographer.

New Mission Residents

The new Mission residents are more educated and wealthier, according to a report by the city’s Planning Department.

Some 42 percent of the residents of District 9, which includes Bernal Heights, have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 31 percent in 2000. Those with postgraduate and other professional degrees increased from 10 percent in 2000 to 16 percent in 2010.

The per capita income in District 9 increased from $28,060 to about $33,520. At the same time, the poverty rate dropped from 13 percent in 2000 to 9 percent in 2010.

Once again, tech companies and their workers are moving into the Mission District. To them, the Mission still looks relatively inexpensive when compared to SOMA or Silicon Valley.

HotPads, for example, relocated in April from Washington D.C. to the Mission.

“We chose the Mission because we wanted to locate HotPads in an area that was vibrant both during the day and at night,” co-founder Douglas Pope said, pointing to the “countless restaurants, bars and cafes…… and awesome happy-hour locations.”

In District 9, the average rent for a two-bedroom unit is currently $2,497, according to the Planning Department. In District 10, which includes Potrero Hill, it’s $2,177, while in District 11 it’s $1,778.

Citywide, the average is $3,099.


District 9 Supervisor Campos said he is troubled by the rising housing costs, but warned that more analysis is needed before taking action.

He also warned of the possibility of an undercount.

In 2000, California allocated $20 million to ensure a full count; this year the cash-strapped state allocated only $2 million. To ensure a full count, the Census Bureau and the city allocated $600,000 in grants to local nonprofits, including Accion Latina and Carecen, known as trusted “gate-keepers” to the Latino community.

The Mission District Complete Count Committee was in charge of outreach. It organized soccer games and cultural events to let residents know about the census and the importance of participating.

Ana Perez, Carecen’s executive director, said her organization reached its target goal and feels it was successful.

Despite the efforts, immigration experts and demographers said that anti-immigrant campaigns nationally created a more fearful climate this year than during the last census.

“There is still a great deal of anti-immigrant sentiment and scapegoating occurring nationally, so it’s understandable that undocumented individuals and individuals who are not trustful of government continue to be fearful about participating,” said Adrian Pon, executive director with the office of immigrant affairs. “Historically, this along with language barriers have been major factors in undercounts.”

Jeffrey S. Passel, the senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center, said an undercount was possible, but he saw little evidence of one.

“The birth statistics and the count of children are agreeing exactly,” Passel said. “There is no real indication of a shortfall.”

The Census Bureau is currently conducting a study to determine how accurate the count was, but it won’t be released for a year or so, Passel said.