MARIN (KPIX) -- A new study from the University of California at Berkeley reveals six of the ten most segregated cities in the Bay Area are in Marin County. So, why would an area that prides itself on its progressive thought have such a lack of diversity?
The study from the university's Othering & Belonging Institute, analyzed 2010 census data and determined the towns of Ross, Belvedere, Sausalito, San Anselmo, Fairfax and Mill Valley are leaders in the Bay Area for lack of diversity.
In Sausalito, less than 1 percent of residents are African American, even though it's right next to Marin City, a predominantly black town. Community organizer Paul Austin said it goes back to post WWII when blacks were forbidden from buying or building homes.
"But I can't say that currently it's done intentionally," Austin said. "It's just that it's been done for so long that how do you break into it? How do you desegregate some areas?"
Austin said the biggest obstacle is income disparity…most African Americans simply don't have the money to buy in pricey Marin. Sausalito homeowner Dr. Jerry Morgan said it all boils down to affordable housing.
"I think it does, that's right," he said. But does he also thinks people in Marin are resistant to having affordable units built in these areas. "Yes, That's that's the truth," said Austin.
Samir Gambhir, one of the authors of the study, said it is single-family zoning that is keeping towns segregated. He says by resisting multi-family developments in their communities, residents are slamming the door on those with lower incomes. But is he concerned the study will paint people with the broad brush of racism when they're just living in a place they want to live?
"Umm…well, we're not saying people living in these communities are racist," he said, "but the policy itself actually keeps people away from these neighborhoods."
But is it intentional? Bobby Johnson in Marin City thinks so.
"They think that if they throw them a bone it'll be alright," he said. "You don't want to give 'em too much on the bone -- too much meat on the bone."
But don't people like being around people they identify with? Paul Austin admitted he might not want to move to a community that is all white.
"That's a good question, probably not," he said. "I don't know if I would want to be that "first" or "second"…right? But I would love to have that option."
It is that option that's missing, especially when the price of homes is so out of reach to so many.
Ironically, the study names the single most segregated community as East Palo Alto, a lower-income city where people of color are the majority and only 6 percent of the population is white.
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