Descriptive Title:

Proportion of land area considered to be a potential contamination site

Geographic Unit of Analysis:

Census tract

Percent of land area that is within 1/4 mile of a potential contamination risk (2014)
NeighborhoodLand area within 1/4mi of a potential contamination site (Sq. Mi)Neighborhood Area (Sq. Mi)Percent of land area that is within 1/4 mile of a potential contamination risk
Bayview/Hunter's Point 0.93 5.17 17.90%
Bernal Heights 0.11 1.08 9.80%
Castro/Upper Market 0 0.86 0.10%
Chinatown 0 0.22 0.40%
Excelsior 0.02 1.39 1.30%
Financial District/South Beach 0.09 1.12 8.00%
Glen Park 0 0.67 0.70%
Golden Gate Park 0 1.72 0.00%
Haight Ashbury 0 0.56 0.00%
Hayes Valley 0 0.49 0.00%
Inner Richmond 0 0.74 0.40%
Inner Sunset 0.14 1.42 10.00%
Japantown 0 0.12 0.00%
Lakeshore 0.05 2.53 1.90%
Lincoln Park 0.07 0.39 16.90%
Lone Mountain/USF 0 0.58 0.00%
Marina 0.11 1.01 11.30%
McLaren Park 0 0.62 0.00%
Mission 0.11 1.77 6.50%
Mission Bay 0.07 0.79 8.60%
Nob Hill 0 0.41 0.00%
Noe Valley 0 0.98 0.00%
North Beach 0 0.5 0.80%
Oceanview/Merced/Ingleside 0.06 1.05 6.00%
Outer Mission 0.16 1 16.40%
Outer Richmond 0 1.79 0.10%
Pacific Heights 0 0.8 0.00%
Portola 0.16 0.83 19.00%
Potrero Hill 0.15 1.25 12.20%
Presidio 0.18 2.36 7.80%
Presidio Heights 0 0.5 0.00%
Russian Hill 0 0.49 0.30%
San Francisco 3.26 46.75 7.00%
Seacliff 0 0.21 1.10%
South of Market 0.12 0.88 14.00%
Sunset/Parkside 0 4.23 0.10%
Tenderloin 0 0.39 0.20%
Treasure Island 0.64 0.89 71.60%
Twin Peaks 0 0.66 0.00%
Visitacion Valley 0.01 0.61 2.10%
West of Twin Peaks 0.04 3.06 1.30%
Western Addition 0.01 0.58 0.90%

Why Is This An Indicator Of Health and Sustainability?

Potential contamination sites include browfields, sites that fall under the State Water Resources Control Board's Underground Storagetank Local Oversight Program, and freeways. Brownfields are real property where the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of the property may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant.a A key characteristic of a brownfield site is that it is targeted for redevelopment. An underground storage tank (UST) is a tank and any pipes connected to it that is used for the storage of hazardous substances and that is substantially or totally beneath the surface of the ground.b  In a hazard event, living or working within close proximity of a contaminated site can increase risk of exposure to hazardous materials. Runoff from inundation events may contaminate drinking water or storm water, and fumes caused by extreme heat may worsen nearby air quality.

Even sites falsely assumed to be contaminated can pose a health threat because they can result in reduced property values or sprawled development patterns if left unchecked. Cleanup and reuse can improve quality of life by creating community benefits like parks or by stimulating jobs creation.  Indirect health benefits may include greater location efficiency than alternative greenfield sites; a local reduction in vehicle miles traveled; and, evidence shows, a reduction in crime.c

Interpretation and Geographic Equity Analysis

In San Francisco, there is a higher concentration of potential contamination sites along the eastern part of the city, especially in the Treasure Island, Portola, Bayview Hunters Point, and Outer Mission neighborhoods.  This is likely due to the density of former military and industrial uses in those neighborhoods. In these neighborhoods more than 15% of land area is within 1/4 mile of a potential contamination site.


Brownfields, Local Oversight Program sites, and freeways were mapped and a 1/4 mile buffer was drawn around them. The percent of land area in each census tract and analysis neighborhood that fell into that buffer was then calculated. 


The term “Brownfields” carries a broad definition, and is not synonymous with contaminated site.  Known contaminated sites may not receive brownfield status until a specific activity occurs, such as a real estate transaction or the filing of a building permit application, which could trigger on-site inspections and initiate a formal mitigation process.  The EnviroStor database does not include permitted Transportable Treatment Units (TTUs) or generators/transporters of hazardous waste. In addition, the EnviroStor database does not include sites where DTSC performed an emergency removal at a former methamphetamine (meth) laboratory. The EnviroStor database does not include ALL contaminated sites throughout California. Other Federal, State, and local agencies maintain lists of properties under their jurisdiction.  The EnviroStor database does not include information regarding disposal of household hazardous waste, such as batteries and waste oil.

Data Source

Local Oversight Program sites were obtained from staff at the San Francisco Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Branch.

Brownfields were obtained from the Department of Toxic Substances Control’s online Envirostor system at

Table data is presented by planning neighborhood.

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. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  Brownfields and Land Revitalization. Accessed 1/4/12.  Available at

  2. California Environmental Protection Agency.  State Water Resources Control Board. Water Issues. Division of Water Quality – Underground Storage Tank Program. Accessed 1/4/12.  Available at

  3. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA Brownfields Program Produces Widespread Environmental and Economic Benefits.  Accessed 1/4/12. Available at /overview/Brownfields-Benefits-postcard.pdf

  4. Community Redevelopment Act (CRA) of 1977; Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980; and the 2002 Small Business Liability and Brownfields Revitalization Act

  5. CA Environmental Protection Agency. 1995. Department of Toxic Substances Control Policy and Procedure for Managing Voluntary Site Mitigation Projects: The Voluntary Cleanup Program. EO-95-006-PP. Accessed 1/4/12. Avaliable at Cleanup/upload/eo-95-006-pp.pdf