The exodus of Blacks from the shores of the "Bay Area" is not exclusive to SFO. From first hand experience between seeing the condition of Oakland during honeymoon more than 12 years ago to what I saw about 2 years ago - things have changed in Oakland as well.
The Bay Area is "U shaped" with SFO on the west, San Jose at the bottom and Oakland on the west. SFO and SJO were largely built out as they are prime real estate. For decades Oakland was off limits because it was seen as crime ridden. Thus development was limited.
This is no longer the case. I saw massive development upon the Oakland water front, heading inland.
The area behind "Jack London Square" which was largely abandoned years ago is now "Chinatown" with a thriving set of markets and banks with people packing the side walks.
An increasing number of new housing units and remodeling efforts were going up.
Middle and low income Blacks are being forced back to places like Richmond. There is a debate over the cost and accessibility of high speed rail and public transportation in general.
Blacks have been leaving San Francisco in record numbers. Blacks accounted for 6.5 percent of the population in 2005, down from a high of 13.4 percent in 1970 – the steepest decline of any major US city, according to the US Census Bureau.
While San Francisco's image has been defined by a history of tolerance and openness, some say today's reality is much different. They paint a picture of a racially and economically divided city where blacks are vanishing from the social and cultural fabric, priced out and marginalized by the urban redevelopment policies of the past half century.
The decline in the black population has been so rapid that Mayor Gavin Newsom launched the African American Out-Migration Task Force and Advisory Committee in 2007 to reverse the trend. One key recommendation of the committee is for more affordable housing – much like the new development in the Western Addition.
It's projects like this, says the Rev. J. Edgar Boyd of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, that could help retain middle-class African-Americans who may otherwise flee to northern California cities such as Stockton or Antioch. That flight has left a wide gulf within the black community here. On one end of the spectrum, seniors stay because they own homes. On the other, poorer and younger black families populate public housing. What's missing, he says, is a middle ground.
That means fewer churchgoers in the pews on Sundays and not as many parishioners taking part in community efforts. "It just kills the life and spirit of the community," he says.
Findings of the mayor's task force confirm that black families with moderate and above-moderate incomes have been leaving since 1990. As a result, very-low-income households made up more than two-thirds of the black population in 2005 – up from roughly one-half in 1990.
The task force also said that the per capita income for African-Americans here is 56 percent less than that of whites. Blacks "lag behind the rest of the city in almost every key economic indicator and face significant barriers to addressing the disparities," it said.
The absence of middle-class blacks in San Francisco leaves the impression that "we are not stakeholders in the community," says Pastor Boyd.