Media Coverage: "Racial Segregation in the San Francisco Bay Area"

See below for a compilation of media coverage of our Racial Segregation in the San Francisco Bay Area report series.


"How the US made affordable homes illegal"
Aug. 16, 2021


"Opinion: Why Bay Area needs to eliminate single-family zoning"
East Bay Times
Aug. 11, 2021

According to a report from UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute, an average of 81% of the Bay Area’s residential land is zoned for single-family development. In San Jose, it’s as high as 94%.

"San Jose immigrants suffer from growing economic divide"
Washington Post
June 12, 2021

And a 2018 University of California, Berkeley study found that while San Jose is one of the largest and most diverse cities in the region, its segregated neighborhoods don’t reflect that diversity. Asians and Latinos in particular are “incredibly segregated,” the report found.


"Growing Movement To End Single-Family Housing Zones"
NBC News
June 7, 2021


"Biden wants to fight racist exclusionary zoning laws. Will it work?"
April 25, 2021

The attention around the effects of single-family zoning laws came after a study from the University of California–Berkeley's Othering and Belonging Institute ranked Berkeley the eighth-highest in neighborhood segregation among nearly 100 Bay Area municipalities. The study's co-authors said zoning laws had an "unequivocal" effect.


"California housing crunch: Is the answer to end single-family zoning?"
Christian Science Monitor
April 6, 2021

Officials in Berkeley view such criticisms as misplaced, pointing out that ending exclusionary zoning would neither prevent the building nor authorize the demolition of single-family homes – a pair of common misperceptions. They further assert that the reforms would foster incremental change – much of the new housing would involve converting existing homes into duplexes and the like – and help the Bay Area meet a state mandate to add 441,000 housing units by 2031.


"Oakland takes a step toward banning single-family zoning"
March 17, 2021

Property owners and real estate agents in some of those neighborhoods also used racial covenants on property deeds that legally barred Black and Asian residents from renting or buying houses, and some pursued single-family zoning laws after explicit discrimination became illegal. UC Berkeley’s Othering & Belonging institute recently found that Bay Area cities with higher proportions of their neighborhoods zoned for single-family houses still tend to be disproportionately white and less diverse than the Bay Area as a whole.


"Oakland will study ending zoning laws that allow only single-family homes"
Mercury News
March 17, 2021

A two-year study by UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute released last summer found that single-family zoning accounts for 84% of the Bay Area’s total residential land and 65% of Oakland’s.

The report’s authors concluded that adding more multiplex housing could be crucial to racial residential integration in the Bay Area. They found that as the proportion of a city’s single-family zoning increased, so did the white population, while Black and Latino populations decreased.


"‘A Big First Step’: Bay Area Cities Are Rethinking Single-Family Zoning"
March 15, 2021

The single-family neighborhood has been foundational to American housing policy for decades. It’s also been a tool to keep Black and brown people out of homeownership, and is one reason why there isn’t nearly enough housing overall.

This policy has deep roots in the Bay Area. But now, a handful of cities are rethinking it, and allowing developers to build "fourplexes" in these areas.


"Facing Housing Crunch, California Cities Rethink Single-Family Neighborhoods"
March 13, 2021

But it wasn't until the 1970s that single-family zoning took off in a big way. Congress passed The Fair Housing Act in 1968, which explicitly prohibited racial segregation in housing. And the backlash was huge, says Stephen Menendian, the research director for the Othering and Belonging Institute at the University of California - Berkeley.


"Berkeley moved toward banning single-family zoning. Oakland could take a first step"
March 4, 2021

A UC Berkeley Othering & Belonging Institute study found that 82% of the Bay Area’s residential neighborhoods are zoned for single-family houses only.


"The Upzoning Wave Finally Catches Up to California"
CityLab (Bloomberg News)
March 1, 2021

Berkeley plays a prominent role in that history: Its Elmwood neighborhood was among the first parts of the U.S. to enact a single-family zoning code in 1916, according to the resolution. Today, such codes cover some 82% of residential land in the Bay Area, according to UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute, and 49% in Berkeley.


"Op-Ed: San Francisco Needs to Follow Berkeley's Lead and Get Rid of Single-Family Zoning"
Feb. 26, 2021

 From an October 2020 study by UC Berkeley's Othering and Belonging Institute, much of San Francisco's western and southern quadrants are dominated by single-family neighborhoods — some of which are well served by mass transit and some of which are not. While there isn't much room left in the city for the kinds of mega-developments like the one still in the works in Parkmerced, there is a ton of opportunity to allow more multi-unit buildings in ersatz-suburban neighborhoods like the Sunset, West Portal, and Glen Park.


"A ‘symbolic step’: Berkeley to end exclusionary zoning by 2022"
Feb. 25, 2021

A recent study from UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute ranked Berkeley eighth-highest in neighborhood segregation among more than 100 Bay Area municipalities. According to study co-author and assistant director of the institute Stephen Menendian, restrictive zoning laws have an “unequivocal” effect on racially segregating housing. 


"Berkeley to end single-family residential zoning, citing racist ties"
Mercury News
Feb. 25, 2021

UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute conducted a two-year study of racial segregation in the Bay Area and found that single-family zoning dominates residential zoning. The study found that 84% of the Bay Area’s residential land is zoned for single-family homes only. In Berkeley, 49% of its residential zoning is dedicated to houses only. Other cities such as Oakland are zoned at 65% for single-family homes, while the entire city of Piedmont is 100% zoned for houses.


"Opinion: Single-family zoning must be eliminated to end the racist origins of Berkeley’s zoning"
Feb. 18, 2021

 It is a sad stain on Berkeley’s otherwise proud history that became the nationwide tool of choice as a complement to lending discrimination and redlining. It has long been a scourge of fair housing, according to a study done by the Othering and Belonging institute at UC Berkeley: “It shows some fluctuation but overall as the proportion of single-family zoning increases, so does its white population, while the Black and Latinx populations decrease,” the study says.


"‘A new standard’: Berkeley City Council hears quadplex zoning proposal"
Feb. 18, 2021

Exclusionary zoning results in racial and economic “segregation,” according to Councilmember Lori Droste, the chief architect of the proposal. In a study by UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute, researchers recommended changing zoning laws around single-family homes as part of a multi-pronged strategy to enhance racial integration in the city.


"Berkeley may get rid of single-family zoning as a way to correct the arc of its ugly housing history"
Feb. 17, 2021

Reclassifying single-family zones to include multiplexes could affect vast chunks of real estate. In the Bay Area, roughly 85 percent of residential neighborhoods (49 percent in Berkeley) are zoned single-family-only, according to UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute. “That’s ridiculous,” said Stephen Menendian, the institute’s assistant director and director of research. “The fact that only 15 percent of residential areas permit by zoning ordinance denser housing options, in a region that is the economic vanguard of the country, is totally inadequate to the needs of the region and frankly the country.”


"California Cities Rethink the Single-Family Neighborhood"
Feb. 16, 2021

A study from the UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute found that Berkeley has some of the most segregated neighborhoods in Alameda County today. The neighborhoods that first adopted single-family zoning in Berkeley are more than 75% white, while the county as a whole is a little more than 31% white


"Berkeley considers ending single-family zoning
The Mercury News
Feb. 12, 2021

UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute conducted a two-year study of racial segregation in the Bay Area and found that single-family zoning dominates residential zoning. The study found that 84% of the Bay Area’s residential land is zoned for single-family homes only. For Berkeley, 49% of its residential zoning is dedicated to houses only. Other cities such as Oakland are zoned at 65% for single-family homes, while the entire city of Piedmont is 100% zoned for houses.


"To lead on housing, legislators should look to Sacramento City Hall"
Cal Matters
Feb. 2, 2021

UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute proposed a set of remedies to reduce racial segregation, starting with the need to end exclusionary zoning. UCLA scholars affiliated with the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies echo concerns about the racist history and effect of single-family home zoning, and find the practice to be “inequitable, inefficient and environmentally unsustainable.” UC Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation supports Sacramento’s move by declaring, “Sacramento can serve as a model for other citie


"Study shows land-use policies dramatically segregate Marin"
Point Reyes Light 
Jan. 6, 2020

A new study shows that land-use policies dramatically segregate Marin. Marin is one of the most segregated counties in the Bay Area, with an overwhelmingly white population that is exceptionally separated from people of color. In West Marin, the San Geronimo Valley was singled out as highly segregated, but the issue afflicts the entire region.


"Lily White: String of Racist Incidents Shows Marin County Has Work To Do"
Pacific Sun 
Dec. 16, 2020

"Our county holds the dubious honor of being home to six of the 10 most racially segregated cities/towns in the Bay Area," the report states. "We pride ourselves on our liberal politics in Marin, yet residents of our wealthy, white cities repeatedly say 'no' to affordable housing in their own backyards, inevitably pushing new affordable housing projects elsewhere, helping to ensure the county’s continued segregation."  

Silverstein goes on to describe a string of racist incidents to showcase that Marin County has work to do. 


"Belvedere, Tiburon among Bay Area's most racially segregated"
The Ark
Dec. 9, 2020

A new regional report shows Belvedere and Tiburon are among the most racially segregated municipalities in the Bay Area, with white people making up about 91 and 85 percent of residents, respectively. The findings, published last month by the University of California at Berkeley’s Othering & Belonging Institute as part of a series on racial segregation in the region, list Belvedere as the third-most segregated of the Bay Area’s 101 towns and cities. Meanwhile, Tiburon ranks 13th on the list. Six other Marin municipalities — Ross, Sausalito, San Anselmo, Fairfax, Mill Valley and Larkspur — were in the top 15.


"Here’s why Marin continues to be the Bay Area’s most segregated county"
San Francisco Chronicle
Dec. 8, 2020

A new UC Berkeley study showing that Marin County leads the Bay Area in segregation didn’t come as a surprise to Phil Richardson — or, for that matter, to other developers who have struggled to get housing built in the North Bay county.

Since 2004, Richardson has been trying to build an apartment house on a 1.25-acre site near the intersection of Camino Alto and East Blithedale Avenue, a busy crossroads near a Whole Foods, a post office and the Mill Valley Recreation Center. It’s one of the few undeveloped lots in town.

Three times between 2004 and 2019, Richardson submitted plans, and three times the city turned him down, as neighbors opposed the project, saying it would snarl traffic and alter the character of the neighborhood. Now Richardson is back with a fourth proposal, a 25-unit building that would include 12 affordable apartments. He hopes the recent regional focus on the affordable housing crisis will change the outcome this time — but he is not optimistic.


"UC Berkeley project publishes list of Bay Area cities ranked by severity of segregation"
Dec. 3, 2020

“Our immediate purpose in this brief is to illustrate vividly patterns of segregation within the Bay Area utilizing compelling maps and data analysis, thereby drawing greater and more detailed attention to a problem that has remained stubbornly persistent,” the report states.

There are many forms of segregation that can affect communities, Menendian said. In the South, segregation was historically focused on public accommodations, such as bathrooms and bus seats. Segregation in the North, on the other hand, was predominantly residential. California has followed the North in this regard, he noted.

“California didn’t explicitly segregate parks and pools, but it used mechanisms to achieve the same result,” Menendian said. “Redlining prohibited African Americans from moving into certain neighborhoods, and that led to residential segregation.”


"Study: Marin County Home To Many Of Most Segregated Cities In Bay Area"
KPIX 5 News Evening
Nov. 30, 2020


"Marin County dominates racial segregation rankings in Bay Area according to UC Berkeley study"
Mercury News
Nov. 30, 2020

Six out of the 10 most racially segregated municipalities in the Bay Area are in Marin County, according to a new report published by the University of California, Berkeley.

Prepared by the university’s Othering & Belonging Institute, the report calculated segregation in each of the Bay Area’s 101 municipalities using data from 2010 census tracts and categorizing demographics into five racial categories — Latinos, Whites, African-Americans, Asians and other.

“The project revealed that despite its reputation as a progressive and inclusive region, the Bay Area, like the rest of the country, remains highly segregated,” said lead researcher Stephen Menendian.


"It’s beyond time to make reparations for enslaving an entire race, but commissions aren’t the answer"
San Francisco Chronicle
Oct. 29, 2020

Sure, slavery was never legal in California, but slaves were still owned. And starting in the late 19th century, racial covenants were enacted to preserve white-only neighborhoods. The Bay Area, while racially diverse, remains deeply segregated, according to analyses by researchers at UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute.


"The Racist History of Single-Family Home Zoning"
Oct. 5, 2020

A recent study from UC Berkeley's Othering & Belonging Institute found that 83% of residential land in the Bay Area is devoted to single-family zoning. That means that on only 17% of the land, it's legal to build apartments, condos, duplexes of triplexes.

And that's not unusual. A New York Times analysis found that about 75% of the residential land in major cities across the country is devoted exclusively to single-family homes.

The same Othering & Belonging Institute study found that as you increase the percentage of single-family zoning in a city, you increase the percentage of white residents.


"Why Bay Area neighborhoods are still racially segregated"
Berkeley News
Sept. 10, 2020

When Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation in the United States became illegal. But according to new research from UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute, those divisive practices still exist in the Bay Area through zoning laws that create restrictive neighborhoods segregated by race.

The study is the fifth and final installment of the institute’s “Racial Segregation in the San Francisco Bay Area” series. Researchers mapped jurisdictions and produced a set of maps of 67 cities across six Bay Area counties that show the correlation between segregated neighborhoods and areas zoned for single-family homes.

The findings were clear: As the proportion of single-family zoning increases in a city, so does its white population, while Black and Latinx populations decrease.


"UC Berkeley study offers solutions to diversify Bay Area neighborhoods"
Daily Cal
Aug. 24, 2020

To spread awareness of racial segregation in Bay Area residential areas, UC Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute published its final brief of a five-part research series Aug. 11, providing solutions and strategies to encourage diversity and inclusion.

The series, titled “Racial Segregation in the San Francisco Bay Area,” began with a brief that was published in October 2018. The final brief wraps up the series with a reflection on the legacy of segregation in the Bay Area and suggests five strategies to rectify the damaging effects of racial division in neighborhoods.

“We must do more than simply educate ourselves about the problem; we must find ways to put the Bay Area on a new trajectory, one of greater racial equity and deliberate inclusion and belonging,” the brief states.


"Single-family housing in the Bay Area linked to more racially segregated cities: report"
Mercury News
Aug. 21, 2020

With California cities under mounting pressure to boost housing density, a new report suggests that coveted single-family neighborhoods may be a key driver of racial segregation in the Bay Area.

The University of California, Berkeley’s Othering & Belonging Institute found that single-family zoning typically leads to more expensive homes, while costs are lower in denser communities, locking out many middle and low-income families. That, in turn, helps exclude many residents of color with less wealth, creating more racially segregated neighborhoods, said Stephen Menendian, the report’s co-author.

“It separates people from life-enhancing resources — from jobs, from good schools, from infrastructure and transit, from neighborhood amenities, and parks and safety,” he said.


"UC Berkeley study research Black/Latinx communities' quality of life"
The Daily Californian
Nov. 4, 2019

"The study proves what we've already known, it's been happening forever," saud District 3 City Councilmember Ben Bartlett. "We need to create new paradigms that incentivize integration - it's everything."

Consistent with the rest of the country, segragation in the Bay Area appears to accompany a "hoarding of resources" by certain communities, namely wealthier white ones, at the expense of communities of color, according to the report. 

The research points to the resulting unequal access to opportunity as on the the main drivers of the observed disparities in quality of life.


"Study finds strong correlation between segregation and life outcomes in the Bay Area"
Nov. 1, 2019











"Asians are now largest group in these two Bay Area counties, new data shows"
East Bay Times/Mercury News
June 20, 2019

In San Mateo, San Francisco and Contra Costa counties, white residents make up the largest share of the population. Asians make up the second largest share in San Francisco and San Mateo counties, while Hispanics rank second in Contra Costa, the data showed.

Samir Gambhir, a program manager with the Haas Institute who co-authored a 2018 report on segregation in the Bay Area, said in an email that the Asian population in the nine-county region  has been growing rapidly for decades.

“The plurality of Asians within the region is not surprising given the trajectory of rate of growth of this racial group,” Gambhir said. Between 1980 and 2010, he said, the Asian population in the Bay Area increased 300 percent.


"The Bay Area of 1970 was less racially segregated than it was in 2010"
San Francisco Chronicle
May 28, 2019

The Bay Area was more racially segregated in 2010 than it was 40 years prior, a UC Berkeley paper published Tuesday found. Segregation in the Bay Area persisted and, in some cases, grew since 1970. Seven of the region’s nine counties had more segregation in 2010 than they did in 1970. The only two that saw declines — San Francisco and Alameda counties — remain classified as “high” segregation places.

Meanwhile, Marin, Santa Clara, Sonoma and Napa counties had relatively large increases in segregation. That’s according to a brief from researchers at UC Berkeley’s Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society — the third in a five-part series.

But the story of where people live in relation to each other isn’t uniform across racial groups. While black residents became less segregated from white and Latino peers, for instance, Asians and Latinos both became more segregated from whites. Black-white segregation remains the highest, even though it’s on the decline, said authors Stephen Menendian and Samir Gambhir.


"Study: Minorities make up nearly half of Napa County's population"
Napa Valley Register
Feb. 19, 2019

Racial and ethnic minorities are within a few percentage points of becoming a majority of Napa County residents, according to recently released survey of demographics — and segregation patterns — across the Bay Area and its more than 7 million people.

Latinos account for 34.28 percent of the Napa County population, Asians 7.95 percent and African Americans 2.16 percent, according to the study conducted by the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, a research and social justice center at UC Berkeley. Combined, their numbers approach the white, non-Latino population of the county, 52.28 percent out of the 140,973 listed in a 2017 U.S. Census Bureau estimate.

Authors Stephen Menendian and Samir Gambhir released their findings in the first two segments of a planned five-part study, including an analysis of Bay Area segregation published in October and a report on the demographics of regional counties released Feb. 6.


"Vallejo is diverse but segregated, new study finds"
Times Herald Online
Feb. 12, 2019

Solano County and even Vallejo, in particular, may be ethnically diverse, but, there are still pockets of stubbornly segregated neighborhoods, a new study finds.

The first two parts of a five-part Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society study have been released, showing that even the most diverse cities have disparities that seem to be at least in part, based on race, study co-author Samir Gambhir said.

“More than 60 years since the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision denounced racial segregation in primary and secondary public schools, and 50 years since the enactment of the federal Fair Housing Act, our neighborhoods and schools have yet to reflect the rich diversity of our nation as a whole,” the authors said, proving that segregation remains “one of our nation’s most enduring and intractable problems.”


"Bay Area housing prices push low-income minorities farther out, study finds"
SF Chronicle
Feb. 7, 2019

African Americans remain the most racially segregated group in the Bay Area, with three-quarters of all black residents living in just one-quarter of the region’s census tracts, according to a different paper last year from UC Berkeley.


"Recent study reveals trends of racial segregation in Bay Area"
Daily Cal
Feb. 7, 2019

While the Bay Area is one of the most racially and ethnically diverse places in the world, segregation persists, and certain communities of color are increasingly forced to more distant parts of the Bay, according to a recently released study by the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society.

The institute launched its series on “Racial Segregation in the San Francisco Bay Area” in 2018, when it released its first brief on the topic, highlighting segregation throughout the region through detailed maps that break down the racial makeup for various counties. This second brief, published Wednesday, expands on the initial findings of racial segregation and tracks trends in racial demographics throughout the Bay Area for five major ethno-racial groups — African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinx, whites and Native Americans.

According to Stephen Menendian, co-author of the report, one of the most important points of the study concerns the Asian American population — a group that has the highest growth rate in recent decades compared to other racial groups. Asian Americans currently make up almost 24 percent of the overall Bay Area population as of 2010, and Menendian predicts that they may soon constitute a plurality in the region.


"Segregation in the San Francisco Bay Area"
El Show de Andrés Soto, KPFA
Feb. 7, 2019


"UC Berkeley Haas Institute study shows Bay Area segregation, despite region’s diversity"
Daily Cal
Nov. 14, 2018

While the Bay Area is diverse, many neighborhoods or cities within the region are highly segregated and do not reflect the diversity of the region, according to a report published Oct. 29 by the UC Berkeley Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society.

According to the report, titled “Racial Segregation in the San Francisco Bay Area,” 39 percent of census tracts in the Bay Area were classified as highly segregated, about 27 percent of tracts were moderately segregated and about 31 percent of tracts showed low segregation.

Using data from the 2010 census and the 2015 American Community Survey, the report shows that white people are the most segregated racial group in the region. Although 39 percent of the Bay Area population is white, about 11 percent of census tracts are more than 75 percent white, and about 22 percent of tracts are more than 66 percent white.


"The grim reality of racial segregation in the S.F. Bay Area"
Berkeley Blog
Oct. 30, 2018

Social scientists have long known that the root cause of racial inequality – that is, the large disparities in life outcomes between racial groups – is primarily a byproduct of racial segregation, and racial residential segregation in particular. Prevailing wisdom suggests, however, that racial segregation has declined in the last several decades while economic segregation has grown substantially in that time.

Although true, this ignores the fact that racial segregation remains stubbornly high – it fell just modestly from an extremely high level between 1970 and 2010. To give you a sense of how segregated the nation is, more than half of either blacks or whites would have to move to a different neighborhood to create a “perfectly integrated” nation.

There are a number of excellent visualization of racial demographics that immediately illustrate this reality. One of my favorites is a dot map of every person in the United States created by a researcher at the University of Virginia, which Wired magazine called “the best map ever made of America’s Racial Segregation.” Another amazing interactive map illustrating racial demographics and racial diversity was created by the Washington Post this past summer.