Descriptive Title: Proportion of population within ½ mile of a savings bank or credit union

Geographic Unit of Analysis: Point

Proportion of population within 1/2 mile of a savings bank or credit union (2010)
Bayview/Hunter's Point 37%
Bernal Heights 88%
Castro/Upper Market 97%
Chinatown 100%
Excelsior 67%
Financial District/South Beach 100%
Glen Park
Golden Gate Park 0%
Haight Ashbury 60%
Hayes Valley
Inner Richmond 100%
Inner Sunset 90%
Lakeshore 79%
Lincoln Park
Lone Mountain/USF
Marina 100%
McLaren Park
Mission 88%
Mission Bay
Nob Hill 100%
Noe Valley 99%
North Beach 100%
Outer Mission 73%
Outer Richmond 99%
Pacific Heights 100%
Potrero Hill 9%
Presidio 20%
Presidio Heights 100%
Russian Hill 100%
San Francisco 81%
Seacliff 41%
South of Market 100%
Treasure Island 0%
Twin Peaks 49%
Visitacion Valley 63%
West of Twin Peaks 80%
Western Addition 100%

Why Is This An Indicator Of Health and Sustainability?

Access to affordable, healthy credit and freedom from high-interest loans are essential for community health.  Credit is often used to fill the financial gap by families that do not have enough income to cover basic living expenses and households impacted by unexpected economic burdens, such as an illness, emergency or job loss.  Studies have shown that low-income and minority neighborhoods lack physical proximity to fair financial services and have disproportionate access to fringe financial services such as check cashers, payday lenders, and pawn shops that have high fees attached to their services (equivalent to 500% APR or more) and no savings account options.b   

According to a 2007 report by the Federal Reserve, one in four families in the bottom 20% of earners spends 40% of their income in debt payments alone.  These costs commonly result in reduced spending on food in general (and healthy food specifically), reduced access to health care, and reduced time spent in recreation, all of which lead to increased obesity and stress, leading to increased heart disease, stroke, cancer, depression and anxiety, among other health problems.a 

Being within walking distance of neighborhood goods and services, such as banks and credit unions, promotes physical activity, reduces vehicle trips and miles traveled, and increases neighborhood cohesion and safety.c By reducing vehicle trips and miles traveled, dense neighborhoods with diverse and mixed land uses can also reduce air and noise pollution, which subsequently impacts associated respiratory and noise-related health conditions. According to the US Green Building Council, research has shown that "living in a mixed-use environment within walking distance of shops and services results in increased walking and biking, which improve human cardiovascular and respiratory health and reduce the risk of hypertension and obesity."d

Interpretation and Geographic Equity Analysis

There are approximately 221 savings banks and 33 credits unions in San Francisco, with the majority located in the Financial District.  On average, 81% of the population in San Francisco lives within ½ mile of a savings bank or credit union.  However, as illustrated by the map and table, there is significant geographic disparities in the location of these financial institutions.

Potrero Hill has the lowest proximity to fair financial institutions, with only 9% of the population living within ½ mile of savings banks or credit unions, followed by the Presidio (20%) and Bayview (37%).  Seacliff, Ocean View, and Twin Peaks also have less than 50% of the population within a ½ mile of a savings bank or credit union.  In contrast, 100% of residents in the northeastern quadrant of San Francisco, as well as residents of the Inner Richmond, Western Addition, Marina, Pacific Heights, and Presidio Heights are within a ½ mile of a savings bank or credit union.

As described in the health description above, nationally, low-income and minority neighborhoods are more likely to lack access to fair financial institutions compared to wealthier neighborhoods.  In San Francisco, the southeastern neighborhoods of Bayview, Excelsior and Visitacion Valley are among the lowest income neighborhoods with the highest proportion of people of color, and do have lower than city average access to fair financial institutions.  However other low income, majority non-white neighborhoods such as Chinatown, Downtown/Civic Center, and the Mission have comparatively good access to fair financial institutions.

The San Francisco Planning Code Section 249.35 Fridge Financial Service Restricted Use District states “There are an unusually large number of establishments providing fringe financial services, including check cashing and payday lending, in the neighborhoods included in the Mission Alcoholic Beverage Special Use District, the North of Market Residential Special Use District, the Divisadero Street Alcohol Restricted Use District, the Third Street Alcohol Restricted Use District, the Haight Street Alcohol Restricted Use Subdistrict and the proposed Excelsior Alcohol Restricted Use District. The unchecked proliferation of these businesses has the potential to displace other financial service providers, including charter banks, which offer a much broader range of financial services, as well as other desired commercial development in the City, which provides a broad range of neighborhood commercial goods and services.” In order to preserve the residential character and the neighborhood-serving commercial uses these areas, a noncontiguous Fringe Financial Service Restricted Use District is established for certain properties (See Section 249.35 for full list). In addition, no new fringe financial services are permitted in these districts.


Savings banks and credit unions were defined using Standard Industry Classification (SIC) definitions: 60199902 – 60820000. Savings banks include the following SICs:  60199902, 60210000, 60219901, 60220000, 60229901, 60290000, 60350000, 60359901, 60359902, 60360000, 60369902, 60819901, and 60820000. Credit unions include SICs:  60610000, 60620000, and 60629901.

The residential lot file was used to illustrate the location of San Francisco housing relative to savings institutions.

To measure the percent of residents within ½ mile of a savings institution, bank and credit union addresses were mapped using ArcGIS 10.0. Half mile buffers were drawn around each institution. The number of residents living within each residential lot in the city was estimated using Census data and a dasymetric mapping technique (see Data Sources section for more information). We then selected the residential lots that fell within each buffer and summed the number of residents within those lots. The number of residents living within the buffers was then divided by the total number of residents living within the neighborhood to calculate neighborhood savings institution access.


Proximity is just one limited dimension of accessibility.  Access to financial services is also impacted by the cost of services, hours of operation, waiting times, languages spoken and cultural accessibility of staff, financial literacy of residents, available transportation options, size and topography of the neighborhood, and other similar factors.

Some credit unions and banks are certified as Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) by the federal or state government, which means that their primary mission is to promote community development in underserved areas.a For more information, visit the U.S. Treasury's CDFI Fund website at

Data Source

Location of savings banks and credit unions from Dun & Bradstreet 2010 business data.

Population data from the US Census 2010

Map and table created by San Francisco Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Section using ArcGIS software.

Table data is presented by planning neighborhood. While planning neighborhoods are larger geographic areas than census tracts, census tracts do not always lie completely within a planning neighborhood. SFDPH used ArcGIS software and a dasymetric mapping technique to attribute Census block group data to residential lots. We then assigned residential lots to planning neighborhoods to calculate Census population totals within the neighborhoods.

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

Interactive boundaries map

  1. Nolen, LB; Miller, CM; Prochaska, JD; Tarlekar, S (2011). “Health Impact Assessment of the City of Galveston’s Draft Comprehensive Plan,” Center to Eliminate Health Disparities at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas:

  2. James H. Carr and Jenny Schuetz. Financial Services in Distressed Communities: Framing the Issue, Finding Solutions. 2001. Fannie Mae Foundation. Available at:

  3. Texas Appleseed. (2009). Short-Term Cash, Long-Term Debt: The Impact of Unregulated Lending in Texas. Available at:

  4. Mendez, Fred. 1997. Community Development Financial Institutions: a primer. Community Investments 9(2). Available at: Retrieved 7/17/2008.

  5. Moore Iacofano Gostsman, Inc. Richmond general plan update, issues & opportunities, paper #8: community health and wellness (draft). 2007. Available at:

  6. US Green Building Council. LEED rating systems, neighborhood development. Available at: