Black population decreases in East Palo Alto

City experiences overall population decline of 4.6 percent as number of black residents drops by 30 percent

Defying a Bay Area trend, East Palo Alto saw its population decrease by 4.6 percent over the past decade -- a drop precipitated by a shrinking number of black residents, U.S. Census data shows.

The data, which the U.S. Census Bureau released Tuesday (March 8), showed the number of people of one race who identify themselves as black or African-American falling by 30 percent between 2000 and 2010. The city had 6,796 black residents in 2000, but the number dropped to 4,704 in the new census.

Black residents, who made up 23 percent of East Palo Alto's population in 2000, now make up only 16.7 percent of the city, according to the census.

The dramatic drop in the number of black residents drove the city's overall population down despite modest growth within other racial groups and ethnicities. Hispanic and Latino residents saw their number rise from 17,356 to 18,147 over the past decade (a 4.6 percent increase) and they now make up nearly two thirds of the city's population -- 64.5 percent in the new census compared to 58.8 percent 10 years ago.

Statewide, the Hispanic/Latino population surged by 27.8 percent over the past decade, census data shows.

The new census also shows that East Palo Alto's white population remained relatively flat, going up slightly from 7,962 in 2000 to 8,104 residents in the new census. The data suggests that many of these residents were also classified as Hispanic or Latino (which is an ethnicity, not a race). Of those residents listed as not Hispanic or Latino, 6.2 percent are white.

East Palo Alto's population decline came at a time when most Bay Area cities experienced growth, according to the census. San Jose and San Francisco saw their respective populations go up by 5.7 percent and 3.7 percent over the past decade, while Palo Alto's population rose by 9.9 percent.


Posted by Mexican, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 9, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Where did the blacks go?

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 9, 2011 at 5:01 pm

A lot of the African Americans who lived in EPA for a long time moved to Sacramento & the central valley -Fresno, Stockton, etc. I noticed this trend when I did volunteer work in EPA in the 90s.

Posted by Citizen, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 9, 2011 at 8:51 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Freakonomics 2, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2011 at 8:04 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Sam, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 10, 2011 at 8:21 am

Black population decreases: Are they just have less babies or are they moving somewhere else? Not trying to be funny...does anyone have an answer?

Posted by Mr. Ironic, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 10, 2011 at 9:22 am

They moved out back in the late 90's when the land here was worth a lot. Most sold their houses for top dollar and moved into a house double the size for half the price in cities like Stockton, Yuba City, Sac, Oakland etc. They just took advantage of the housing market at that time. Most bought houses for like 20k back in the 80's and sold it for about 200k in the 90's.

Posted by Freakonomics 2, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2011 at 9:38 am

To whomever deleted my post.

Have you read the book Freakonomics?

Posted by Details, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2011 at 9:51 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Freakonomics 2, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2011 at 10:17 am

Here is the wiki link to Freakonomics and its theory on crime.

Pay attention to chapter 4.

Web Link

Posted by Freakonomics 2, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2011 at 10:20 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Details, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2011 at 10:40 am


Thank you. That makes sense. For those of you who don't want to take the time to press the link, in summary,

They studied the children of 188 women who were denied abortions from 1939 to 1941 at the hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden. They compared these "unwanted" children to another group – the next children born after each of the unwanted children at the hospital. The "unwanted" children were more likely to grow up in adverse conditions, such as having divorced parents or being raised in foster homes and were more likely to become delinquents and engaged in crime.

Steven Levitt of the University of Chicago and John Donohue of Yale University revived discussion of this claim with their 2001 paper "The Impact of Legalized Abortion on Crime".

Donohue and Levitt point to the fact that males aged 18 to 24 are most likely to commit crimes. Data indicates that crime in the United States started to decline in 1992. Donohue and Levitt suggest that the absence of unwanted aborted children, following legalization in 1973, led to a reduction in crime 18 years later, starting in 1992 and dropping sharply in 1995. These would have been the peak crime-committing years of the unborn children.

The authors argue that states that had abortion legalized earlier and more widespread should have the earliest reductions in crime. Donohue and Levitt's study indicates that this indeed has happened: Alaska, California, Hawaii, New York, and Washington experienced steeper drops in crime, and had legalized abortion before Roe v. Wade. Further, states with a high abortion rate have experienced a greater reduction in crime, when corrected for factors like average income.Finally, studies in Canada and Australia purport to have established a correlation between legalized abortion and overall crime reduction.

Posted by Chris Gaither, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 10, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Let's face it folks, this area of the bay area whether you live in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Atherton, Redwood City or wherever in this region, is very expensive cost of living wise compared to the rest of the nation. I am certain, the decrease in black citizens of EPA has to do with economics - meaning other areas in the nation are more affordable. Many of my clients who come from across the U.S. and other parts of the world really love this area for what it has to offer weather and entertainment wise, and they don't want to leave it when they have to go back home. They always however ask the question, how can anyone afford to live here? And they always say, they could by 3 or 4 houses where they live for the price of one house here.

As more Census data is revealed, I am certain we will be told that this entire area has decreased in population across the races particularly given the economic downfall of the past three years.

Posted by Member, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 10, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Mr. Ironic is right. The decrease in the black population in East Palo Alto happened at the when the housing market was strong sometime in the mid 90s and many homeowners were enticed to sell by realtors knocking on their doors, literally knocking on their doors. Many families, most long time and older residents, sold and moved to Central California towns or out of state.

The cost of living in this area is expensive, but property values in East Palo Alto are still the lowest on the Peninsula so it attracts working families or investors who then rent out the properties. It will be interesting to see if or how the increase of renters affects developments improvements in the city; fewer homeowners usually means less interest in city improvements.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 11, 2011 at 3:18 pm

The Freakonomics info isn't relevant. Mr. Ironic, Member & I know more about why the local black population has decreased than people posting about crime & abortion. I am really tired of nearly anything in a thread about EPA always being tied to crime by people posting who have little real info. I wish the editors would delete more of those sorts of posts for being irrelevant in these cases.

Posted by SpaceBrotha, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 21, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I concur with Mr. Ironic. I know a few black families that sold their homes to investors, moved to towns like Tracy, when Tracy was developing all those tract housing neighborhoods in the early 90's. The price tags for these brand new homes were too good to pass up.

Problem was, the younger families that were still in the workforce had to commute back to the Bay everyday and that was horrendous. I knew one brotha that just stayed with relatives in Oakland during the week and went home to his wife and kid on the weekends. Now me...I couldn't live a life like that unless I was single. To me, that brotha was not enjoying life until he got his week vacation 3 times out of a year. If you're retired, however, it's a great deal because you're right there in the central valley where you can go off on road trips close (like Yosemite) or out of state within a few hours.

Overall, I don't think the younger black families who sold their EPA homes in the last 5 years, were seeing the big picture. Reverse white flight (caused by sub-prime implosion and skyrocketing gas prices) caused a higher rate of exodus of blacks from the Bay, enticed by those cheap central valley homes, before realizing that the plan was for whites to move into the urban, formerly black hoods and THEN city/state-backed development starts to unfold. So now former residents are starting to come back to their hoods and seeing it change drastically for the better, and their just looking like "what the hell!".

Stay strong West Oakland historic residents and don't sell....your land is still worth it's weight in gold and they will try ANYTHING to try and grab it!

If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Couples: Parallel Play or Interactive Play?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,509 views

Just say no
By Jessica T | 6 comments | 1,469 views

Palo Alto quietly gets new evening food truck market
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 984 views

SJSU Center for Steinbeck Studies to Honor Author Khaled Hosseini on Weds Sept 10
By Nick Taylor | 0 comments | 811 views

Candidate Kickoff Events: Public, not just for supporters
By Douglas Moran | 4 comments | 469 views