The past decade has wrought some significant changes to the demographics of communities in southern San Mateo County. After crunching the new numbers recently released from the 2020 U.S. census, here's how things have changed in communities covered by The Almanac.
Between 2010 and 2020, the populations of most communities in southern San Mateo County rose, albeit at different rates: Menlo Park by 5.5%, Atherton by 4%, Woodside by 0.4%, Portola Valley by 2.4%, Ladera by 9.2% and East Palo Alto by 6.7%. Only North Fair Oaks saw its population decline, dropping by 4.5%.
Strikingly, all census tracts where boundaries remained the same between 2010 and 2020 reported a decline in the number of people who identify as white, from a 116 person decline in the central Menlo Park census tract 6127, to 1,613 fewer in North Fair Oaks' 6106.01 census tract.
In addition, each census tract showed triple-digit percentage increases in residents who report identifying as two or more races, with North Fair Oaks' 6105 tract in the lead with an overall increase of 985 people or 452%. Sharon Heights had the least with a 116% increase in its proportion of residents of two or more races, an overall addition of 181 people.
The number of Black or African American residents across the communities in southern San Mateo County fell by more than 30% in both Belle Haven and East Palo Alto and about 26% in North Fair Oaks.
The shifts in overall numbers of residents who identify as Hispanic was more varied depending on the census tract — most tracts saw some increases, but some saw significant declines, including all three North Fair Oaks census tracts and Belle Haven, all reporting triple-digit drops in their Hispanic populations. North Fair Oaks saw a loss of about 932 Hispanic residents, or about 9% of its Hispanic population, while Menlo Park's Belle Haven neighborhood lost 491 Hispanic residents, or about 12% of its Hispanic population.
In Menlo Park, there was a total population increase of 1,754 people between 2010 and 2020.
Broken down by race, there was a decrease of 3,150 white residents, 488 Black residents and 87 Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander residents.
The largest demographic increase came from Asian-identified people, with an 84.4% increase, bringing the group to 17% of the city's overall population in 2020 compared with about 10% in 2010.
The largest decrease came from a 31.5% decline in the city's Black population with the loss of about 488 people from the city.
The majority of those, 377 residents, came from Menlo Park's Belle Haven neighborhood. The neighborhood saw a 33% decrease in its overall Black population during the decade and the largest overall decrease among the tracts evaluated. At the same time, the Belle Haven neighborhood also saw the largest overall increase in its Asian population, which rose by 708 people or 424% between 2010 and 2020.
The two neighborhoods that saw the largest overall population increase within the same census tract in Menlo Park were the Linfield Oaks and Allied Arts neighborhoods. Linfield Oaks saw its population increase by about 575 people or 13.8%, while Allied Arts saw a population increase of about 500 people or 12%. Both neighborhoods saw a roughly 8% decline in the proportion of white people at the same time they experienced 86% and 70% increases in the number of Asian residents in Linfield Oaks and Allied Arts, respectively.
West Menlo Park saw a higher than average increase in its overall population at 8.5%, seeing a roughly equal drop in white residents (351) and increase in Asian residents (344).
The neighborhood that saw the greatest increase in American Indian and Alaska Native people — a 725% bump — was in Census Tract 6118, which includes part of Menlo Park and East Palo Alto toward the Dumbarton Bridge, with 116 more residents.
The tract reporting the largest increase in Hispanic residents was Menlo Park's Linfield Oaks neighborhood, which saw an overall increase of 194 Hispanic residents.
Neighborhoods that saw their overall populations decline included Sharon Heights (down 3.2%) and Menlo Park's census tract 6139, which includes the south of Seminary/Vintage Oaks neighborhood and part of the Willows (down 1.7%).
East Palo Alto experienced a 6.7% increase in its overall population to 30,034 people, up from 28,155 in 2010. The city saw a nearly 56% drop in its white population and a 30% drop in its Black population. It also saw an increase of more than 500 people each who identify as Asian or American Indian/Alaska Native. The number of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders fell slightly, by 34, with 2,084 people overall. The Hispanic population in East Palo Alto increased by about 10% to almost 20,000 people overall.
North Fair Oaks was the only jurisdiction in which a population decline was reported. Between 2010 and 2020, the population fell by a total of about 660 people in North Fair Oaks, to 14,027 from 14,687. The unincorporated jurisdiction saw about a 51% decrease in its white population, a decline of more than 3,500 people, and a 26% drop in its Black population, while seeing a 56% rise in its Asian population. The Hispanic population in North Fair Oaks fell by about 932 people or 9%. The number of people who identified as two or more races rose by nearly 2,500 people.
Atherton experienced a 4% population increase overall to a population of 7,188 residents, up from 6,914 in 2010. There was a 13% decline in its white population, a 33% increase in its Black population (to 100 residents in 2020 from 75 in 2010), a 55% increase in its Asian population (an increase of about 500 residents) and a roughly 190% increase in people identifying as being of two or more races, to 624.
Woodside experienced the smallest population increase at 0.4% overall. It saw a 12% decline in its white population, a 47% increase in its Black population (to 34 residents from 23), and a 34% increase in its Asian population, to 446 from 332 residents in 2010. The town's Hispanic population increased in line with its overall population increase by 0.4% or about 22 people.
Portola Valley experienced a 2.4% increase to a population of 4,456 residents, up about 103 people from a decade before. During that time, it lost 375 white residents and one Black resident, bringing the number of Black residents down to 11. There were 105 additional Asian residents and 55 additional Hispanic residents, and an overall increase of 348 people claiming two or more races.
Ladera's population increased 9.2%, to 1,557 from 1,426. Its white population declined by 103 people, it gained a single additional Black person, for a total of four in 2020, and saw nearly identical increases in Hispanic residents (72) and Asian residents (71).