Blacks priced out of San Francisco neighborhood as developers move in.
Bayview-Hunters Point: Equity and development rise
san francisco » Tired of paying nearly $4,000 a month for a one-bedroomin San Francisco’s popular South of Market district, two newlyweds last year bought a townhouse in a budding development along the city’s rough-edged southeastern bay-front.
Friends warned Eyitejumade and Jinglin Sogbesan that the historically black Bayview-Hunters Pointwas a dangerous place. But Eyitejumade Sogbesan, 39, a native of Nigeria and former investment banker, ignored them.
A $500,000 two-bedroom with parking seemed a bargain in a city wheremodest homes fetch $1 million.
As San Francisco rides a massive building boom reminiscent of post-World War II, fueled largely by growth in tech-based jobs, developers are finally wading into a part of the city long plagued by too much poverty and not enough fresh produce markets.
But as modern dwellings crop up, there are fears that the city’s dwindling population of blacks will not be able to afford the neighborhood that writer James Baldwin once called “the San FranciscoAmerica pretends does not exist.”
“I love this place. This is really home,” said Dwight Brown, a jobs activist who lives on Third Street, a rundown commercial strip. “But the writing on thewall was they’re taking it away from us.”
As San Francisco’s population climbed to an estimated 860,000 this year, the number of blacks has plummeted from 100,000 in 1970 to fewer than half that today.
Blacks, who made up a third of Bayview-Hunters Point residents in 2010, are being priced out or have sold their property, trading rising equity in their homes for quieter lives in the suburbs.
City leaders say the new development should help preserve the city’s black community. As evidence, they point to plans for new senior and public housing, as well as recent legislation requiring that 40 percent of new affordable units go to residents.
“People heard so many different promises for years, and now they literally see the manifestation of years of advocacy andwork and disappointment. This is for you,” said San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen, whose great-aunts once lived in a city housing project.
Bayview-Hunters Point is one of the last major frontiers for San Francisco development, encompassing more than a square mile of undeveloped land in a cramped city of 49 square miles.
The neighborhood is perhaps best knownas home of Candlestick Park, where the Giants and 49ers played for decades before moving to new venues. But the area has a rich history.
Once called Butchertown for the slaughterhouses of yesteryear, Bayview-Hunters Point has long served as a place of pioneers, including Italians and Maltese — and after World War II, thousands of blacks who left the South for jobs at the naval shipyard.
There was a thriving blue-collar middle class. But when the shipyard closed in 1974, work dried up and gangs came to rule, especially in its public housing projects.
Lennar Urban plans to construct 12,000 housing units on the sites of the former shipyard and now-demolished Candlestick Park, nearly doubling the population of 35,000. There are plans for a luxury shopping center at the old park and for rebuilding the dreary 1963 Alice Griffith housing project.
“We need a change,” said resident Robin Robinson. “If people are living a little bit better, maybe they’ll feel a little better.”
Eyitejumade Sogbesan, the newcomer, said buying a home in one of the most expensive cities in the country is good for his family.
Shaun Britton does a bicycle trick in the BayviewHunters Point district in San Francisco.