Sunset District

Sunset’s Community Needs Assessment Report Released

By Thomas K. Pendergast

Affordable housing, small businesses in neighborhood commercial corridors and neighborhood services are at the core of a new “community needs assessment report” for the Sunset District, released by District 4 Supervisor Gordon Mar. 

The assessment states that housing in the Sunset is unaffordable, especially for low- and middle-income households. It concludes that a variety of affordable housing options are necessary to meet the different needs of current and future Sunset residents. 

Families are overcrowded, even in single-family homes, but a lack of affordable options limits their ability to move or expand. 

Seniors need housing and young people are being priced out of their own neighborhoods. 

“The Sunset has been a beacon for waves of predominantly working-class folks for decades, but more and more, families and seniors can no longer stay in the neighborhood they know and love,” Mar said. “The assessment has provided valuable information about our neighborhood’s specific needs, so we can equitably plan for our future and ensure the Sunset is a complete neighborhood where people can thrive.”

The assessment also concludes that small business owners want greater flexibility in their use of commercial spaces, more affordable commercial rents and a streamlined permitting process. 

Furthermore, there is a need for a stronger sense of community that has been emphasized by the COVID-19 pandemic. Survey respondents rated community centers and cultural centers as the top desired neighborhood services and more community events with opportunities for people to connect across ages and cultures. 

Even before the pandemic there was a decline in neighborhood services in the Sunset, the report states. So, there is a need to expand existing programs and provide more services for low-income seniors, families and youth, people experiencing homelessness, and non-English speaking community members.

“The Sunset District is one of the largest districts in San Francisco, in both size and population,” said Matt Pemberton, director of programs at the Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center. “Yet, people still act like it is a suburb and not part of San Francisco. The (needs assessment survey) demonstrates the gaps in the neighborhood, while highlighting the diverse and engaged population of D-4. Now is the time to bridge the gap between data and reality.” 

The ethnic breakdown of those who participated in the survey was 36% White; 26% are Asian; 3% Hispanic or Latino; 3% listed as Other; 1% Native Hawaiian of Pacific Islander; 1% Black or African American; 1% Native American; and 29% chose not to respond.

Of the 757 total responses to the Community Needs Assessment survey, 91% either live, work or go to school in the Sunset.

The assessment gives an overall ethnic breakdown for the Sunset as 53% Asian; 31% White; 8% Hispanic or Latino; 6% two or more races; 1% Black or African American; and 1% Other. 

Sunset Forward is a community-driven planning process to stabilize low- and moderate-income families and seniors in the Sunset District. This needs assessment was a collaboration between Mar’s office, the San Francisco Planning Department, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, the District 4 Youth and Families Network, and the Sunset community. 

The age breakdown of those responding to the survey is 35 to 59 years-old: 41%; 60 and over: 19%; 20 to 34: 16%; prefer not to respond: 4%; 5 to 19: 2%. 

By comparison, the age breakdown given by the assessment for District 4 overall is 35 to 59 years old: 34%; 60 and over: 25%; 20 to 34: 24%; 5 to 19: 12%; under 5: 5%. 

For San Francisco overall, the assessment’s age breakdown is: 35 to 59 years old: 35%; 20 to 34: 29%; 60 and over: 21%; 5 to 19: 10%; under 5 years-old: 5%.

Regarding annual household income, the survey numbers show 35% preferred not to respond; $150K or more: 24%; $100-$150K: 14%; $75-$100K: 8%; $25-$50k: 8%; Less than $25K: 3%.

Overall annual household incomes for District 4 are listed at $150K or more: 32%; $100-$150K: 19%; $75-$100K: 11%; $50-$75K: 15%; $25K-$50K: 12%; Less than $25K: 11%. 

For San Francisco, the annual household income numbers provided are $150K or more: 35%; $100K-$150K: 16%; $75-$100K: 9%; $50-$75K: 11%; $25-50K: 12%; Less than $25K: 17%. 

According to the assessment, 61% of housing is occupied by owners and 39% by renters in District 4. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many challenges renters were already facing, such as overcrowding and the fear of eviction,” the report states. “Some respondents also shared that loss of income weighed heavily on their ability to afford to live in the Sunset. Some reported fear of losing their rent-controlled apartment and having to move out of the City entirely. 

“Respondents with families say that overcrowding has become an increasingly unbearable situation with all adults working from home and children doing distance-learning. Some reported having their adult children move back because of job loss or general inability to afford to live elsewhere. Many respondents shared that the pandemic has forced seniors into further social isolation as many of them fear leaving their homes for safety reasons.”

The assessment also addressed the pandemic’s impact on small businesses.

“Many community members expressed their hesitancy to frequent their neighborhood commercial corridors due to fear of catching and spreading COVID-19, especially during the height of the pandemic in summer and fall of 2020,” according to the assessment. “Shared Spaces brought much needed activity back to the commercial corridors, but people expressed that they want businesses to take the proper health and safety precautions to keep customers and staff safe.”

To download the full Community Needs Assessment Report go to: https//

1 reply »

  1. “757 total responses to the Community Needs Assessment survey,” does not seem like an adequate representation of the 70,672 number that comes up when one googles how many people live in San Francisco’s District 4.


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