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Press Release · August 7, 2002

Segregation On Decline In California Neighborhoods

Among Cities with Diverse Populations, L.A.'s Neighborhoods Most Segregated; Sacramento Has Highest Level of Neighborhood Diversity of Large Cities

SAN FRANCISCO, California, August 7, 2002 – Segregation is on the wane in neighborhoods across California, giving way to racially diverse communities from Vallejo to Moreno Valley, according to a study released today by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). However, diversity varies widely across the state – Los Angeles neighborhoods are still highly segregated, while those in Sacramento are far more racially diverse.

The study, Who’s Your Neighbor? Residential Segregation and Diversity in California, finds that overall the percentage of California neighborhoods with one race in an overwhelming majority dropped dramatically from 43 percent in 1990 to 25 percent in 2000. During the same period, neighborhoods with a substantial mix of residents from different races rose from 7 percent to 19 percent. Nevertheless, a majority (52%) of the state’s neighborhoods remain at least somewhat segregated. Los Angeles, in particular, stands out as a city where the population’s racial diversity is not reflected in its neighborhoods: Los Angeles has more segregated neighborhoods than any other racially diverse city in the state.

“Los Angeles is like many of California’s large, older cities – the overall population is diverse but the neighborhoods are not,” says Juan Onésimo Sandoval, an assistant professor at Northwestern University, who co-authored the study with PPIC research fellow Hans Johnson and PPIC research associate Sonya Tafoya. “With the notable exception of Sacramento, which is very diverse, we find that the younger, suburban cities – with plenty of housing and proximity to a major city – have the greatest neighborhood diversity.” Indeed, nine of the ten most diverse cities are newer suburban cities located in the state’s largest metropolitan areas – seven in the Bay Area and two in Los Angeles (see table on page 13).

Seven of the state’s ten most segregated cites are in the immediate Los Angeles area and have large Hispanic majorities (see table on page 13). In fact, 70 percent of Los Angeles’ segregated neighborhoods had Latino majorities in 2000. “Latino neighborhoods are more likely to be segregated than others because they often have concentrations of recent immigrants,” says Johnson. However, the authors note that the number of diverse neighborhoods in Los Angeles County increased from 8 percent in 1990 to 19 percent in 2000.

Other key findings:

  • Across the state, neighborhood segregation declined, whether the majority of neighborhood residents were Hispanic, African American, Asian, or white.
  • In 2000, all of the state’s segregated neighborhoods with an African American majority were in Los Angeles County.
  • Wealthy, primarily white neighborhoods remain among the most segregated in the state. Newport Beach is one of the least diverse places in California, as are, to a lesser degree, Manhattan Beach, Malibu, and Hermosa Beach.
  • The fast-growing suburban cities where diversity is high are often the same places cited as examples of urban sprawl.

The Public Policy Institute of California is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to improving public policy in California through independent, objective, non-partisan research on major economic, social, and political issues. The Institute was established in 1994 with an endowment from William R. Hewlett.