Bayview-Hunters Point in Flux

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By Jacob Bourne

The Bayview and Hunters Point neighborhoods continue to evolve, with recent demographic changes influenced by economic trends, particularly related to real estate.  According to the Community Youth Center of San Francisco, a lifetime ago Bayview-Hunters Point’s economy was largely reliant on the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, built during World War II, which dislocated a once thriving Chinese-American shrimping industry.  Dockyard jobs drew African-Americans to settle in the area. 

The Shipyard closed in 1974, prompting a severe economic downturn. The next 20 years was marked by a dramatic increase in unemployment and poverty in the neighborhood.  In 1989, according to Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, the shipyard was designated a Superfund site, one of the then 150 contaminated areas in and around Bayview. 

During the 1990s and early-2000s, housing prices escalated throughout San Francisco, including in Bayview-Hunters Point. Many longtime residents cashed out of their property, and left for other Bay Area counties, particularly the East Bay.  In 2007, the Third Street Light Rail began operations, increasing connectivity between Southside and the rest of the City.

Change swept through Bayview-Hunters Point again during the nation’s subprime mortgage crisis.  Between 2007 and 2009, the housing bubble popped, leading to dramatic real estate devaluation.  An analysis of 2009 to 2010 District 10 median home prices by JacksonFuller Realtors indicated that San Francisco’s Southside neighborhoods experienced some of the worst impacts of predatory lending, with high foreclosure rates.  In 2010, the median sale price for homes in Bayview was $360,000; $110,000 for Hunters Point. 

By 2011 the real estate market had rebounded.  According to a report released by San Francisco-based Paragon Real Estate Group, between 2010 and 2014 Bayview experienced a 75 percent home value appreciation, the highest of any City neighborhood. Paragon’s 2015-2016 estimates show Bayview’s median home value at $667,500, and condominium prices at $732,500. The median condo price in Hunters Point is $565,000.

The real estate whipsaw resulted in new demographic patterns.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2010 the population of the 94124 zip code, which encompasses Bayview and Hunters Point, was 33,996. African-Americans represented 33.7 percent of the population, Asian-American 30.7 percent, Latinos 24.9 percent, Whites 12.1 percent, and American Indians 0.7 percent.

In 2010, the San Francisco Planning Commission adopted the Bayview-Hunters Point Plan Area, with a goal “To arrest the demographic decline of the local population, particularly African-Americans, and improve its economic position by giving greater priority to job and business growth than to housing growth…To harmonize different land uses, particularly elimination of conflict between housing and industry, elimination of truck traffic through residential and neighborhood commercial areas, and reduction of health and environmental hazards caused by wastewater discharge and industrial by-products.”

By 2014 94124’s population had grown to 35,201, an increase of 1,205 people.  The number of African-Americans had diminished somewhat, to 33.2 percent, the amount of Asian-American residents increased to 32.9 percent, Latinos declined to 21.7 percent, Whites jumped to 16.2 percent, with American Indians at 0.8 percent. The median age in the neighborhoods dropped slightly, from 34.6 in 2010 to 34.4 in 2014. In that same year 73.2 percent of adults had at least a high school diploma, with a median household income of $49,594, with 23.5 percent of individuals living below the poverty line.

Three major development projects are underway in the neighborhood. Build Inc. is planning a mixed-use “village” at 700 Innes Avenue, with 1,240 homes; 150 to 200 will be “affordable.” Construction is expected to be completed by the spring of 2018. Lennar Corporation is building another mixed-use community in the former Hunters Point Shipyard, spanning 750 acres, named The San Francisco Shipyard. About 371 condominiums of the project’s 12,000 housing units have been built.

Further south, at Candlestick Point, the area where the former 49ers stadium once stood is being redeveloped by Lennar as a performance arts venue, 6,225 residential units and a hotel. According to the Office of the Mayor, The San Francisco Shipyard and Candlestick Point are the largest redevelopment projects in the City since the 1906 earthquake, and are expected to cost a combined $8 billion.

On August 4 an agreement between the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission and labor unions represented by the San Francisco Building and Trades Council was signed for the Sewer System Improvement Program, a multi-billion dollar capital investment to upgrade the sewer system to increase reliability and meet seismic standards. The 15-year long construction project will create thousands of blue collar jobs.  Since upwards of ninety percent of San Francisco’s sewage is processed in Bayview, there’ll be a focus on hiring from the neighborhood. Young Community Developers Inc. will provide job training and certification in construction fields.

The San Francisco Climate and Health Profile, published by the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH), ranks neighborhoods on a scale of one through five in terms of resiliency to climate change; one being the least resilient and five the most. Bayview-Hunters Point scored “one” for risk of floods, landslides and heat vulnerability. Twenty-seven percent of the area is at risk for environmental contamination; for example, predicted sea-level rise and increased storm activity could negatively impact sewage systems, waste and drinking water. The neighborhood ranked 35 out of 36 in terms of overall climate change resiliency.

For much of the past 24 years Dawud Dirbas has worked as a clerk at the Kennedy Market on Third Street where he has witnessed nearby robberies and fights almost weekly, and could hear shootings frequently. His brother, who owns the store, started the business in 1992, selling groceries, sandwiches and other items.  Dirbas said the neighborhood has changed a great deal recently, with many former residents moving to Treasure Island and Sacramento. These days crime has slowed, he said; he only hears about a shooting every few months. 

“Our business is not doing good,” he said. “We have lost a lot of customers and the new residents don’t shop at stores in the neighborhood. I don’t know if business will pick-up, but we will try to alter the products to serve more specialty items, healthy organic food, fruit, sandwiches and coffee.”

Data for DPH’s San Francisco Indicator Project show that between 2010 and 2012 there were 3,596 violent crime incidents in Bayview-Hunters Point, a rate of 105.8 offenses per 1,000 people.  According to a 2011 report by Harder & Company Community Research, 54 percent of area residents reported feeling “very safe” in their neighborhood during the day, compared to 84 percent for the whole City.

The San Francisco Police Department didn’t respond to requests for more recent crime trend data. The Bayview Police Station publishes a weekly newsletter, which includes incident descriptions, and a weekly tally for 2016. Last July, there were 156 reported incidents of robbery, burglary, automobile boosts, and stolen vehicles in District 10, which also covers Potrero Hill, Dogpatch, and part of the Portola.  In July of 2015 there were 192 similar incidents; in July 2006 the total was 262.