Dog Days? Redefining the Post-COVID Downtown San Diego

The Downtown San Diego Partnership wants urbanites to participate in a study to update the demographic state of the city

The Downtown San Diego Partnership is asking for help in pinpointing who lives, works and plays in the 92101 ZIP Code in the post-COVID era.

The nonprofit–which identifies itself as the “driving force behind the economic prosperity and cultural vitality” of the city–also wants to quantify why people choose to live downtown.

And why others don’t. Or, can’t.

The DSDP is calling on people who utilize the urban core to fill out a confidential survey that polls racial/ethnic background, gender, age, work status, leisure and cultural activities, pet ownership and much more.

“We want to understand who works, lives and plays downtown,” DSDP president & CEO Betsy Brennan says. “The survey will help our advocacy efforts with the city and groups like the San Diego Tourism Authority and the Airport Authority.”

The survey is a partnership between DSDP, the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation and the Center for Research and Evaluation at UC San Diego.

You can access the survey at this link: 2022 DSDP Survey. The deadline is December 2, 2022. The report will be released in the first quarter of 2023.

Who Lives, Works & Plays in Downtown?

Downtown San Diego Partnership president & CEO Betsy Brennan. (Photo by Melissa Jacobs)

A Downtown San Diego Demographics Study was phased out in 2016, but was reinstated in 2021.

Brennan says last year’s study counted 37,000 residents in 92101–as well as 18,000 dogs. Yes, nearly half of all downtown dwellers own four-legged friends.

Some other findings from the last survey:

  • Walkability” is the most-cited reason (61%) for why people like living downtown.
  • More than half (56%) of downtown’s residents are white. Blacks make up 9.3% of the population, double the 4.7% across San Diego County.
  • 60% of downtown residents are between the ages of 25 and 54, and 72% of downtown households are non-family units (compared to 33% countywide).
  • Income disparity is an issue. Earnings for working households ($116,137 in 2019) is 11% higher than the rest of the county. However: Average total household income (which includes public assistance and retirement income) is lower than the country average. Nearly a quarter of downtown households bring in less than $25,000.
  • More than 41% of residents are employed in occupations within management, business, science or the arts.
  • The fastest growing occupation for working residents is life scientists, a number that has tripled over the past two decades.
  • 73% of residents dine out at least once or twice per week, compared to 55% of those who live outside downtown.

Homelessness Numbers

The San Diego skyline. (Getty Images)

DSDP’s 2022 Demographics Survey doesn’t broach the topic of area homelessness. However, the organization does do a monthly Unsheltered Count of the urban core.

The total number of unsheltered people in 92101 in October 2022 was: 1,660, including 713 people in East Village.

The DSDP’s monthly count saw a steep jump this past summer, from 1,253 in July to 1,609 in August. The number of unsheltered people has slowly risen each of the past three months. SDSun

[Cover photo with dog and city skyline: Getty Images]


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