Descriptive Title: Proportion of residents who feel safe walking alone in their neighborhood during the day and night
Geographic Unit of Analysis: Zip code
|Residents' Perceived Safety During the Day and Night (2011)|
|During the Day||During the Night|
|Zipcode||Neighborhoods||Very Safe or Safe||Neither Safe nor Unsafe||Very Unsafe or Unsafe||Very Safe or Safe||Neither Safe nor Unsafe||Unsafe or Very Unsafe|
|94102||Downtown Civic Center||66%||17%||17%||31%||24%||45%|
|94107||Potrero Hill, SOMA||84%||11%||5%||34%||23%||44%|
|94108||Nobb Hill, Financial District||89%||8%||2%||64%||23%||13%|
|94109||Downtown Civic Center, Nob Hill, Russian Hill||81%||12%||7%||50%||24%||26%|
|94110||Mission, Bernal Heights||87%||10%||3%||46%||23%||31%|
|94111||Financial District, North Beach||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|94112||Outer Mission, Ocean View, Crocker Amazon||74%||18%||8%||33%||30%||37%|
|94114||Castro, Noe Valley||95%||4%||2%||75%||18%||7%|
|94115||Western Addition, Pacific Heights||87%||10%||2%||59%||23%||19%|
|94116||Parkside, Outer Sunset||92%||7%||1%||63%||25%||13%|
|94118||Inner Richmond, Presidio Heights||92%||7%||1%||63%||24%||13%|
|94121||Outer Richmond, Seacliff||93%||4%||2%||65%||22%||14%|
|94122||Outer / Inner Sunset, Golden Gate Park||90%||8%||3%||55%||31%||14%|
|94123||Marina, Russian Hill||93%||5%||2%||61%||31%||9%|
|94127||West of Twin Peaks, Ocean View||97%||3%||0%||71%||20%||9%|
|94131||Diamond Heights / Glen Park, Twin Peaks, Inner Sunset||94%||4%||1%||65%||18%||16%|
|94132||Lakeshore, Ocean View||82%||14%||4%||47%||27%||27%|
|94133||Russian Hill, North Beach||82%||14%||4%||49%||28%||23%|
|94134||Visitacion Valley, Excelsior||66%||22%||12%||23%||22%||55%|
|-- excluded because of low survey response rate|
Community violence decreases the safety of a neighborhood, inhibiting social interactions and adversely affecting social cohesion.a This can create a vicious circle, as social cohesion can be a valuable tool in decreasing crime.b Studies have found a negative relationship between neighborhood residents' levels of mutual trust/willingness to take action and levels of violent crime.c,d In addition, the level of safety perceived by residents of a neighborhood may differ from objective measures of the level of safety (e.g. crime rates), and may be influenced by the residents' feelings of integration into the social fabric of the neighborhood or by other aspects of social cohesion.e,f
Witnessing and experiencing community violence causes longer term behavioral and emotional problems in youth.g Residents' worries about safety in their neighborhoods can be a cause of chronic stress.h One study found that residents of neighborhoods with greater safety (as reported by other residents of the neighborhood) had less hypertension than residents of neighborhoods with less safety.i
Residents' feelings about safety in their neighborhoods can also be a disincentive to engage in physical activity outdoors, particularly among women and older persons.j In a large scale study involving over 600,000 residents in Sweden, the rate of violent crime in an individual’s neighborhood predicted their risk for coronary heart disease, regardless of individual demographic and socioeconomic measures.k
Encouraging students to walk or bicycle to school can help combat the rising rates of childhood obesity by encouraging regular physical exercise. However, parental concerns about neighborhood crime strongly influence their willingness to allow their children to actively commute to school.l
This indicator illustrates residents’ perceived safety in their neighborhoods, as measured by responses to the City’s annual city survey questions. Residents are asked about their perceived safety both during the day and at night.
In general, perceived safety is highest in the western half of San Francisco and lowest in the eastern half, particularly the southeastern section of San Francisco. The highest percentage of residents reported feeling very safe or safe at both day and night in zipcodes 94127 (West of Twin Peaks/Ocean View), 94114 (Castro/Noe Valley), 94131 (Diamond Heights/Glen Park/Twin Peaks/Inner Sunset). The highest percentage of residents reported feeling unsafe or very unsafe at both day and night in zipcodes 94102 (Downtown Civic Center), 94124 (Bayview), and 94134 (Visitacion Valley/Excelsior). Although there is not a direct correlation, neighborhoods with high rates of homicide, physical assault, and rape (as illustrated in SC.1 http://www.SustainableSF.org/indicators/view/79) are also the neighborhoods likely to be perceived as unsafe or very unsafe by residents.
Although not presented in the table above, the City Survey also provides resident responses by gender and race/ethnicity. Although there was very little difference by gender during the day, females were less likely to feel safe walking around their neighborhood at night compared to males (30.3% of females stated they felt “unsafe” or “very unsafe” at night compared to 21.1% males). In contrast, there was greater difference on feelings of safety at both day and night by race/ethnicity. Whereas 92.9% of Native American Indians and 91.2% of Whites/Caucasians reported feeling “safe” or “very safe” in their neighborhood during the day, only 79% of Asians/Pacific Islanders, 81% of Latinos/Hispanics, 82.8% of Blacks/African Americans, and 83.2% of Mixed Ethnicity/Other reported feeling “safe” or “very safe”. During the night, people of color were more likely to report feeling unsafe or very unsafe than whites (20.1% of Whites/Caucasians vs. 27.5% of Asians/Pacific Islanders, 29.1% of Blacks/African Americans, 30.2% of Mixed Ethnicity/Other, 38.3% of Latinos/Hispanics, and 46.2% of Native American Indians reported feeling “unsafe” or “very unsafe”).
The City Survey is conducted annually by the San Francisco Controller's Office in order to measure residents' opinions about the quality and level of City services. For the 2011 City Survey, 1,000 residents were randomly selected from each supervisorial district and 3,979 mail, phone, and web surveys were completed for a response rate of 37% when accounting for undeliverable surveys. The survey was available in English, Spanish, and Chinese. The overall distribution of survey respondents’ demographics was determined to be similar to the most recent census estimates and so no additional sampling was conducted.
The questions used to construct these maps and tables were, "How safe do you feel walking alone in your neighborhood during the day?" and "How safe do you feel walking alone in your neighborhood at night?" The possible answers were "very safe," "safe," "neither safe nor unsafe," "unsafe," or "very unsafe." The tables were collapsed to conserve space, showing “very safe or safe,” “neither safe or unsafe,” and “unsafe or very unsafe” for day and night time responses. Because of rounding, some of the rows may not add to 100%. The two maps show the percent of respondents in each supervisorial district who answered that they felt either "safe" or "very safe" walking alone in their neighborhood during the day/night.
Data were mapped by zip code and represent the responses of only those residents who responded the survey, as the data were not adjusted to compensate for non-response bias.
Different people may report different levels of perceived safety in the same situation, or the same level of perceived safety for different reasons. For example, one person's concerns about safety may reflect his/her knowledge of crimes that have taken place in the neighborhood, while another's may reflect physical characteristics of the neighborhood, such as poor lighting. One person may feel safer when police are seen patrolling the neighborhood, others may feel less safe. This survey was conducted in the Spring of 2011. Levels of perceived safety may vary during the year – for example, some people may feel safer during warmer months because they see more people on the streets, whereas others may feel less safe because they see more people on the streets. Similarly, levels of perceived safety may be impacted by how recently certain events – such as a homicide or a neighborhood block party – occurred.
The City Survey is a random sample of residents across San Francisco, however residents who complete the survey may differ from those who do not. Although a 36.6% response rate is fairly high for general surveys, it is not necessarily reflective of the opinions and perceptions of all San Francisco residents.
Data from the San Francisco City Survey Report 2011 by the City and County of San Francisco, Office of the Controller. Available at: http://co.sfgov.org/webreports/details.aspx?id=1343
Map and table created by San Francisco Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Section using ArcGIS software.
Table data is presented by zipcode.
Sundquist K, Theobald H, Yang M, et al. Neighborhood violent crime and unemployment increase the risk of coronary heart disease: a multilevel study in an urban setting. Soc Sci Med. 2006;62(8):2061-2071.
Kerr J, Rosenberg D, Sallis JF, et al. Active commuting to school: Associations with environment and parental concerns. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006;38(4):787-794.