Chinatown, San Francisco

  • The unique history of land use politics and policy in Chinatown—from the earliest days of forced segregation through to recent years of housing rights activism—has given rise to a complex set of challenges as well as community assets to address them.
  • New infrastructure initiatives, such as the Chinatown Central Subway Station construction project, alongside ongoing work by community based organizations, will have a major impact on the community’s future.
  • While housing in Chinatown Core has been preserved for low-income individuals, many of whom are foreign-born Asian Americans, all of Greater Chinatown faces significant pressure as rates of rent- or mortgage-burdened households have skyrocketed since 2000. 

While part of the broader picture of San Francisco’s affordability crisis, the unduplicated factors that shape Chinatown’s built form require a locally-tailored approach to preserving the neighborhood’s livability and vibrancy. As with the 1986 Rezoning Plan, the neighborhood’s effectively mobilized resident base allows for potential solutions to be indigenous to the community. Continued organizing efforts by community groups like CCDC will be critical as both the population and the neighborhood’s infrastructure continue to evolve.

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San Francisco’s greater Chinatown neighborhood has witnessed years of housing pressures. Although strong community organizing and planning restrictions have prevented the core of Chinatown from the tide of gentrification and displacement, some of its greater area experienced significant changes. The neighborhoods of Polk Gulch and parts of North Beach have suffered from loss of Asian households since 1980.

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