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Sunnyside tops in diversity

Sun Staff Reporter

Jill Torrance/Arizona Daily Sun
Shoppers gather grocery items at the Flagstaff Farmers Market Saturday. The store is on the corner of Sunnyside which is the most diverse community in Flagstaff according to census data.
Although only 10 percent of Flagstaff's population resides in Sunnyside, 28 percent of the city's Hispanic and Latino population lives there.

Sunnyside is the most ethnically diverse area in the city, according to Census 2000 diversity index data. In fact, it's about twice as diverse as most other neighborhoods in Flagstaff.

The diversity index, a measure of diversity and ethnic growth based on census data, is the probability that two random people will have the same ethnicity. A zero would mean everyone in the area is of the same ethnicity, and a 1.0 would mean all ethnicities in the area are distributed equally.

On the scale of 0 to 1, Sunnyside's index is 0.71. Compare that to Coconino County's index, 0.58, and it's easy to see that Sunnyside is rich with different cultures.

Some newcomers to the eastside neighborhood say they love the diversity. Others say races clash in gang activity and crime. Most appreciate the lower rent.

"Everywhere else in Flagstaff is pretty segregated," said Andrietta Lee, who has lived in Sunnyside about a month and in Flagstaff about 10 years. "It's kind of nice to live where there's different levels of income, different religions."

Lee is part of the Baha'i faith and said she prefers to live in a diverse area, where she and her two children are exposed to other cultures.

Her family rents in a fourplex for $590 a month. There are plenty of nearby services for low-income families who live in Sunnyside, she added, including the Family Food Center just up the street from her home.

Because everyone in the area works, neighbors don't see each other except on weekends. Lee said she feels safe in the area, unlike the "rowdy" college area.

A few blocks up the street, however, another renter feels unsafe.

A young man, who declined to give his name, said there is a gang problem in his neighborhood and nothing can be left outside without getting stolen.

He said that although nothing of his has been stolen while he has lived in Sunnyside the past four months, he pointed to signs of violent activity where bullet holes dot his garage door.

On one side of Sunnyside, several businesses cater to the Hispanic/Latino community with Mexican products.

Tortilla Lady, a tortilla-making business located on Fourth Street for about eight months, has 85 percent of its client base in the Hispanic community.

Owner Pam Kline said it's a good location for her business, but it wouldn't be without a good team of police who help with a community watch program. Kline said the program helped her deal with intoxicated people who hassled her employees or passed out on her doorstep.

One way Sunnyside helps its own is through the Iglesia de Dios Emanual on Second Street.

A new missionary pastor, Gersom Vazquez, from Tijuana, works mostly with family groups in his congregation of 50.

His family has been here about four months and they are enjoying the snow and the view from the church.

"It's beautiful," said Vasquez, smiling, while his 11-year-old son helped him with maintenance work around the building.

Reporter Becky Pallack may be reached at 556-2261 or

County seeing a few more minority faces

Coconino County:

Year population diversity index

2000 116,000 .58

1990 96,000 .55

1980 75,000 .54

Other counties in Arizona:

Graham .61

Navajo .60

Yuma .60

Pinal .58

Cochise .56

Greenlee .56

Pima .55

La Paz .55

Maricopa .51

Gila .48

Apache .40

Santa Cruz .38

Mohave .29

Yavapai .25


population 52,894

Anglo 77.9%

Hispanic/Latino 16.1% (may be of any other race)

Native American 10%

Black 1.8%

Asian 1.2%

Other 9.1%

TRACT THREE, including Sunnyside

population 6,763

Anglo 42.1%

Hispanic/Latino 35.3%

Mexican 79.5%

Central American 0.8%

South American 0.2%

Spanish American 3.4%

Other 16.1%

Native American 18.9%

Navajo 77.8%

Pueblo 8.1%

Tribe not specified 8.1%

Other tribe 6% (16 specific tribes named by residents)

Black 1.8%

Other Non-Hispanic 1.1%

Asian 0.8%

Asian Indian 58.3%

Chinese 25%

Other 16.7%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Census 2000 Redistricting Data

©Copyright 2003, Arizona Daily Sun (AZ, USA)

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