Map. Population Change. San Francisco.
Map by Will Tile / Mission Local.

San Francisco’s population grew by 8.5 percent between 2010 and 2020, primarily due to an increasing Asian population, according to an analysis of Census Data.

Most neighborhoods saw only slight population growth within the decade, but the northeast experienced a boom. Mission Bay is a particular standout. Its population almost doubled, from around 9,000 to more than 17,400 residents in just 10 years, an indication of how much the Mission Bay development plan has been realized.

In only one decade, nearly 3,700 new housing units have gone up in Mission Bay, biotech has continued to grow, UCSF has expanded, the Warriors have opened a new stadium and the San Francisco Police Department has a gleaming new headquarters.

There were pockets of slight decline throughout the city, most significantly in the southern neighborhoods of Lakeshore and Excelsior.

In some neighborhoods, the changes in San Francisco’s four biggest ethnic groups — the Hispanic, white, Black, and Asian populations — changed dramatically. You can explore these shifts using the map below. Click the buttons to view by ethnic group and click the neighborhoods to see population change.

The graphs below show these changes on the city level.

Though the article focuses on San Francisco’s four biggest ethnic groups, we needed to include each ethnic group above to accurately visualize the total population. For clarity, we’ve lumped together the populations of the “American Indian or Alaska Native,” “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander,” “Two or more” and “Other” ethnic groups into a gray bar because they individually have too few residents as a percentage of the total population for substantial changes to show up in the chart.

Here are a few of the most notable transformations seen in San Francisco neighborhoods.

1. In the Mission, the Hispanic population has continued to decrease

In the Mission, the population remained fairly stable over the decade, but its ethnic makeup shifted significantly.

Gentrification has chipped away at the Hispanic population of the Mission — which the Census Bureau counted as half of the total population in 1990 and 2000. This trend continued over the past decade.

“The Mission District has historically had a huge percentage of renters,” said Nancy Mirabal, an academic who has written on Latinx displacement in the Mission and now teaches at the University of Maryland. 

When rent prices began to spike in the early 2000s, Mirabal said, many tenants were pushed out of their homes. According to the 2009 American Community Survey, 62 percent of the city’s housing stock was renter-occupied, compared to 74 percent in the Mission, so people in the Mission were heavily impacted by price increases.

Last year, there were about 3,400 fewer Hispanic residents in the area compared to 10 years prior. That constituted a drop of 14.4 percent, and was the largest decrease in Hispanic population seen in any major San Francisco neighborhood.

Meanwhile, in most neighborhoods, the Hispanic population grew by more than a quarter.

During the same period, the smaller Asian and Black communities in the Mission grew.

2. Northeast San Francisco saw a huge increase in population

Populations skyrocketed in Mission Bay, the Financial District/South Beach, South of Market and Potrero Hill.

These northeastern neighborhoods saw a far higher rate of growth than other areas of the city. This increase was driven primarily by an increase in the Asian population: In three of these four neighborhoods, the Asian population more than doubled.

Each of these neighborhoods saw similar change among ethnic groups.

It’s likely that new housing developments were behind this population growth, as the rise correlates with an increase in housing units.

For example, in Mission Bay, a 77 percent rise in the number of housing units accompanied a 92 percent population increase. Similar correlations can be seen in other northeast neighborhoods.

3. The Black population is decreasing in San Francisco

The Black population shrank slightly, becoming the only racial group to dwindle over the decade. It made up 5.2 percent of the total population in 2020, compared to 5.8 percent in 2010. 

“Black San Franciscans have been leaving the city since the 1970s,” said Rachel Brahinsky, an expert in Urban Studies from the University of San Francisco. Unaffordable housing and other economic pressures have meant that the past decade’s loss was part of a longer trend.

The decrease since 2010 was driven primarily by Black residents leaving Bayview, where they made up almost a quarter of the city’s Black population. By 2020, 10.1 percent had left Bayview, and Black residents comprised 23.5 percent of the residents as more people overall flocked to the neighborhood.

The U.S. Census Bureau released results on the changes in population and racial and ethnic demographics in August after surveying U.S. residents in the midst of the pandemic from early 2020 to Oct. 15, 2020. 

We looked at ethnicity data, which breaks down demographics by Hispanic and non-Hispanic.

For the purposes of our analyses, we used the neighborhood boundaries denoted by the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development and the Department of Public Health with support from the Planning Department in 2010.

Maps by Will Jarrett. Charts by David Mamaril Horowitz.

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David Mamaril Horowitz

David’s one of those San Francisco natives who gets excited whenever City College is mentioned. He has journalism degrees from there and San Francisco State University, graduating from the latter in May 2021. In college, David played five different roles as an editor at student news publications and reported as an intern for three local newspapers, mostly while waiting tables at the Alamo Drafthouse. His first job was at Mitchell's Ice Cream.

Will was born in the UK and studied B.A. English at Oxford University. After a few years in publishing, he absconded to the USA where he studied data journalism at Columbia University. Will has strong views on healthcare, the environment, and the Oxford comma.

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9 Comments

    1. Hello Jim,

      Thank you for the question. While newspapers of record, including The New York Times and Associated Press, have adopted this practice, it’s certainly debatable.

      We did so for the usual reasons: “White” refers to a group of people whose experiences are less shared than those of the other ethnic groups. Also, white supremacists have historically made it a point to write “white” with a capital “w.”

      Best,
      David

      1. David:
        I don’t personally care how you capitalize these words, but you need better explanations, because the ones you’re using are pretty weak.

        As long as “Asian” includes India and China, and “Hispanic” includes Mexico and
        Chile, it’s nonsensical to assert that white “experiences are less shared than those of the other ethnic groups.” Not to mention somewhat demeaning to the various groups lumped together in all the non-white categories.

        As for white supremacists, that’s completely irrelevant. The question isn’t why you’re not capitalizing “white.” The question is why you’ve begun capitalizing “Black.” White supremacist practices have nothing to do with that.

    2. White is not deemed a pronoun in the English language, that the system even capitalizes a color at all speaks volumes. Is there a chart on the number of immigrants, specifically to San Francisco from the countries that boast the highest increase in populations? ‘Black’ people, globally, do not share the same ease of immigration to the United States, I have to wonder why the numbers are so drastically different. I can walk through San Francisco (or anywhere in this country) today and a ‘white’ person will be speaking dutch, or german, but when asked to self identify they will say they are white not the country they originate from. The forms are written to group countries specifically as white or black or latin or native to america. When do you become native american if you can no longer trace your ancestry beyond Louisiana or Mississippi. Its known that the french and spaniards were in the southern region, so for the census (and planned termination) to deem darker hue natives as mulato stripped future generations of their birthright to this land. As well as easing the transition of lighter hued tribes to merge with Europeans to dominate. All of the treaty’s were done in solidarity to keep the darker natives from ever knowing their true identity, which is why their lineage has suffered until today, begging for land recognition, yet these same people not only do not keep their agreements but put more immigrants in positions to keep the natives they signed with centuries ago in bondage, some kind of agreement. I am a native american, yet this government system identifies me as someone who descended from a country in Africa, so I’m labeled Black. Unless, I apply to a federally recognized tribe, I cannot apply for housing grants blocked for specific protected groups, which historically I should be part of. I have yet to find one specifically for BIPOC or NAACP or Black people. Also, can someone make me understand why our government offices can be held by people who are not born here except the president?

  1. What is really missing is the class differential. The race of a population tells us a little about the community, but class identification and income levels are much more meaningful indicators of what these communities were and are becoming. Also, I wonder if the unhoused are being counted in any meaningful way to contribute to this information? If not, again, the picture is incomplete.

  2. Thanks for this long awaited report. Some points: there were confusing categories re race and ethnicity in the study. As far as Black identities, there is a category for mixed-race (Black or African American alone) and if you include that number the Black population actually increases (6.8 %) . And many “Hispanics” had issues for a number of reasons which may result in underrepresentation. Thats a story in itself. Think it would be great to have a deep look considering issues such as these.

  3. Anyone else think it’s weird that folks from India and folks from China are all considered “Asian”. Each country represents 1/7 of the world and we lump them into one category.

    With the high prevelence of tech in this area, I think Indians should get their own breakdown. Guessing they represent more of the population than “Native Americans”, but it’s a guess based on anecdotal viewing of the people in the hood.

    Are there any numbers that break down the “asian” community into more detail?

  4. Unfortunately, I did not need to see the census to know that the neighborhood has changed. And not for the better.

    I’ve lived in the Mission since the 80s’ and for the last few years, I’ve watched as long-time neighbors have left the District and in many cases the City.

    I’ve watched as long time businesses have been shuttered to be replaced by yuppie restaurants and businesses that have NO connection to the Mission nor even encourage neighbors to come in.

    In one location on 24th Street near Potrero, the location has changed three times over the last decade. Always inclusive of white yuppies but no interest in anything that may include the Mission. Their fare nor the prices reflect this District.

    Another location further West near Mission Street is a noodle place that appears more closed than open.

    Meanwhile, legacy businesses struggle as they are being pushed further and further from their customers.

  5. I think we can also see where the census failed. I don’t believe the Excelsior/Outer Mission has decreased in population over the past 10 years. But that’s what the map shows, a decrease in population for every ethnicity.

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