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
All San Francisco 84% 10% 5% 51% 24% 25%
94102 Downtown Civic Center  66% 17% 17% 31% 24% 45%
94103 SOMA 78% 11% 10% 37% 29% 34%
94104 Financial District -- -- -- -- -- --
94105 Financial District -- -- -- -- -- --
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%
94117 Haight Ashbury 94% 3% 3% 64% 20% 16%
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%
94124 Bayview 54% 20% 26% 13% 22% 65%
94127 West of Twin Peaks, Ocean View 97% 3% 0% 71% 20% 9%
94129 The Presidio -- -- -- -- -- --
94130 Treasure Island -- -- -- -- -- --
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%
94158 Mission Bay -- -- -- -- -- --
-- excluded because of low survey response rate

Why Is This An Indicator Of Health and Sustainability?

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

Interpretation and Geographic Equity Analysis

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”).

Methods

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.

Limitations

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 Source

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.

Detailed information regarding census data, geographic units of analysis, their definitions, and their boundaries can be found at the following links:

Interactive boundaries map

http://sfindicatorproject.org/resources/data_map_methods

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