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.

Follow Us

Rigoberto Hernandez

Rigoberto Hernandez is a journalism student at San Francisco State University. He has interned at The Oregonian and The Orange County Register, but prefers to report on the Mission District. In his spare time he can be found riding his bike around the city, going to Giants games and admiring the Stable building.

Join the Conversation


Please keep your comments short and civil. Do not leave multiple comments under multiple names on one article. We will zap comments that fail to adhere to these short and very easy-to-follow rules.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. @Schlub,

    I appreciate your connection to the Mission and I don’t think all but the true xenophobes would say you and others who are not Latino don’t “belong” here. However, to suggest the type of displacement away from the Mission faced by poor whites is the same as that faced by poor Latinos is not looking at the complete picture. For Latino immigrants the Mission represents proximity to cultural competent services, public transportation and others who are in a similar situation. These resources are MUCH more valuable to someone who is new to this country, doesn’t speak English, hasn’t had access to quality education, etc. than they would be to poor or middle income whites who don’t face these other challenges.

    If you are forced to live in the Bayview (or worse, some place like San Leandro) you are much more likely to be isolated in many more ways if you are a Latino immigrant than if you are White, regardless of economics.

    1. DJ Pakipaya,
      I appreciated your response to @Schlub. My family has had a business in the Mission since the 60’s, I have dear friends who have business in the Mission for over 56 years. After the 1st dot-com spike we saw many Latin/Hispanic families move to Daly City/So City and housing rents went way up. Now with the change again (Valencia Corridor) and now Mission St. with trendy restaurants & bars many Latin/Hispanic families have moved away. I have seen changes in this community since I was very young, some good & some not so good.

  2. I may have missed it, but a key piece of information that is missing from this article that would be very useful, is a list of the actual number of resident from each demographic. But reading between the lines–the Latino population in the Mission is still nearly 40%. San Francisco is all about DIVERSITY people — with a 40% Latino population, the Mission still has a long way to go to become more diverse.

  3. Maybe some of the long-term goals of Latinos differ from groups such as Anglos.
    Latinos, particularly those who are immigrants, see destinations such as the Mission as a transit stop on the way to accomplishing goals such as owning property, education, better employment and attendant opportunities, while Anglos, especially the ones who fit the “Hipster” profile, see moving to places such as the Mission as an immersion into what they think of as becoming cosmopolitan(?)

    1. This poll will enforce the idea that white people are pushing away Latinos from the Mission. The reality is white people are also being forced away from the mission – it’s not a racial thing – it’s an economic thing.

      The reality is that the Mission is a desirable area of SF and has a lot of single family homes and as long as the local economy is strong – which it is – it will continue to be a place that is of value to those who have means.

      As I said up-thread, it doesn’t have anything to do with whether you are Latino, white, Chinese, whatever – it has to do with whether you can afford to either pay the rent or the mortgage of the area. Some white folks can, others can’t – same with Latinos and any other ethnicity. I know for a fact that many of the buildings around me are owned by Latinos and they are riding high on the rents/leases they can get.

      To frame it as a racial thing is really missing the point. The real issue is the general economy of the times – the middle class is getting squeezed out, families can’t afford to stay in this city, etc.

  4. I love the Mission. I get a nosebleed when I leave it. I’ve lived here since 1984, and restored a few homes along the way, and I like the balance here. It was good in the 80s, good in the 90s, and it’s good now. I like how it’s changing. It’s always been diverse, and always will be. I am not concerned about the change in race identities that live here; we all melt into the big stew of life, and always will.

    The only thing that would worry me is if one single race started overwhelming the rest. That’s out of balance. Look at the neighborhoods in this town that are all one group or the other, and yuck, you get the idea.

    Perfect mix.

  5. No one “kicks” immigrants out. Its called a free-market economy. Prices go up as more people move in. That is why the immigrants came here in the first place, to enjoy the fruits of s stable vibrant economy with opportunities for work and advancement.

    You could move to Cuba and have nice planned neighborhoods and no one would ever be displaced (nor allowed to move without planning committee approval) but don’t see anyone advocating for that….

  6. ugh… makes me sad. Damn hipsters, go away! Even this blog is too hipster… (24th and mission huh? Being at that intersection is just so cool?)

    @Schlub, of course its about race, class, culture, and everything in between. If it wasn’t about race, why the hell has this article not been translated into Spanish yet? Rather this area developing into a place for these families as they advance both economically and culturally, instead they are dispersed and replaced by a different economic group. In this case, by young kids who think its cool to live in the mission and by all the businesses that came here for cheap rent with overpriced services and food. I really hope that they maintain a reasonable population of immigrants and not kick them all out of the most affordable place they can live in the city.

    I bet you live in the mission, schlub. You sure sound like it.

    1. We translate everything by hand and so it will be up as soon as our translator finishes it. But yes, we agree and are anxious to have it up. Best, Lydia

    2. Hi Someone,

      Not quite sure why you are throwing a barb my way, but you’re demonstrating exactly my point – you’re starting a xenophobic conversation.

      And yes, I’ve lived in my house in the heart of the mission for many years. I’m middle aged and not a “hipster”, whatever that means. While I would agree that a lot of the young kid stuff is pretty goofy, it’s also pretty great, positive, inventive and invigorating.

      In any event, my point was that these polls describing ethnic trends don’t do much of anything except bring about divisive attitudes and tend to enhance a bigotry that isn’t very constructive or productive.

    3. To suggest that the article hasn’t been translated into spanish because Mission Local is somehow racist is a knee-jerk reaction and race-baiting in itself, and just shows your bias.

  7. These sorts of polls don’t do much more than enforce a xenophobic conversation. The displacement is really about the economy, not race.

    1. the two are inextricably correlated and always have been ever since the “creation” of this country, duh!

  8. In my parents day, the Mission was Italian and Irish. In mine, Latino. Tomorrow, Hipster-Dufus, from the way things appear. After a few more years of a bad economy, they too will fade away. Walk down 24th lately? Sad to me, but I enjoyed it long before its recent gentrification.

    1. I live on 24th Street and I can tell you that the neighborhood has become the most diverse in the city. Chinese families, mexican immigrants, young white kids, urban professionals, artists, working class, etc. all mixed together.

      I think its great. This has become a very vibrant and diverse corridor. “hipsters” are a tiny percentage of that. It definitely sucks that rents are going up due to silicon valley workers choosing to live here because its near the highway and the google bus but otherwise I would say its a positive thing.

    2. I’m originally from the Army Street housing projects (now called Caesar Chavez). Our family is Latino/Filipino/Native American. I saw the first group of kids bussed into my school from China town and Hunters Point (now called Bay View). It was a lucky thing to have such diversity. After college I moved back and the rents were skyrocketing, the yuppies and crackheads were taking over. I took my family and migrated to Hawaii. It’s expensive but they don’t charge for the beach. Now, there’s even a Latin Market in Honolulu! My question is, are the yuppies making life better for the locals when they move in?…….