"The present has not caught up to the future"

Interesting article from the SF Chronicle about Rincon Hill... the area near the Bay Bridge that is seeing a lot of new development... and will get a LOT more in years to come. But as the article says... it is currently no where near where it's expected to be.

Here's the article

If you're interested in the area... and I know many others who are as well... expect to live amongst traffic and homeless. Some pretty good restaurants and night spots have been popping up lately... and you're pretty close to a relatively new Safeway (across the street from AT&T Park) and a Whole Foods.

Another reason to live in the area is if you commute down South or over the Bay Bridge. You can't get any closer to the Bridge. And of course if high-rise views and brand new luxury condos are your thing this is nearly the only place you can go.

However, if you want a more traditional San Francisco feel... this isn't it... high rises in San Francisco were few and far in between until now, and the Rincon Hill area used to be home to an elevated freeway prior to the '89 earthquake which wasn't all that long ago. So it's still pretty urban... although I really love the Embarcadero now with palm trees, green areas, and art work.

Finally, unless your high-rise view is particularly high, and facing North West... you won't get a Golden Gate Bridge view... SF's most famous landmark. For that, you've got to come to the northern neighborhoods of Pac Heights, parts of Russian Hill and the Marina/Cow Hollow among others.


San Francisco "neighborhoods" NOT

I've got a friend who works for RISMedia in Connecticut. He married a girl who lived in San Francisco for a number of years, and I know she'd know better than to call "Antioch, Oakley, Brentwood, Discovery Bay, Pittsburg and Bay Point" San Francisco neighborhoods as the article on the RISMedia site states here.

Most of these are 1 hour drive away without traffic, and Discovery Bay is about 1.5 hours. The article is about Short Sales (when you owe the bank more than your home is worth) and big drops in prices. An hour or more outside of San Francisco is where the pain in happening... so the article doesn't surprise me... just that TOWNS over an hour from the City could be called "neighborhoods". This type of reporting confuses people who are not familiar with the area... and even confuses some who are because they just hear "San Francisco short sales" and assume prices in the city are similarly effected.... which they are not. See my post from August 17th for the "real" story.


Single in San Francisco - #1 per Forbes

If you're an out of towner thinking of moving to San Francisco... Forbes Magazine is naming us the #1 "Best City for Singles". They are including Oakland as part of the San Francisco area, so instead of about 800,000 people they list a population of 2.5 million with 34% being single.

San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newson, is newly divorced so Forbes lists him as the "Most Eligible Bachelor". With all of the "Google Millionaires" around here, they are ranking Marissa Mayer who is only 32 and a highly paid VP at the company.

San Francisco also ranks #2 in "Night Life" behind New York City, and #1 in "Culture". And while we're 20th in affordability, we're #1 in "starting salaries". If you're interested in searching for homes, you can contact me, or start your search via www.SF-MLS-Search.com - and wonderful Map-based service.


City Living - the Affordable Housing debate

Another good argument brewing over at SF Gate's comments section in response to an "Anti-gentrification" story. 98 comments at last count... wow!

My personal opinion... last time I looked, 70% of housing in SF were rentals. This is the exact opposite of the rest of the country. This explains why home prices keep going up... there is next to no supply. Meanwhile, as a Real Estate agents, I know tons and tons of would-be buyers, and few owners who want to sell. No supply, continued demand... and so only the ultra wealthy can afford to buy in San Francisco... not because of what the wealthy are doing... but because the affordable housing advocates are limiting supply.

This is a never ending cycle... by protecting rents and rentals, and by limiting for-sale homes, they are making the problem worse and worse, year over year. Frankly, it is so bad now, that I don't think there is a solution. So now what we are left with is a never ending argument as seen as this stories comments area. There probably is no solution... the ultra Left says "restrict even more housing" which will only make market-rate housing even more scarce... and the gap between rich and poor wider and wider.

To see where the majority is on the argument... take on look at the "Recommended" counts... those arguments in favor of letting the Market control rents and home prices are getting the thumbs up in a ration of about 5 to 1. Unfortunately.... this appears to be a problem that is here to stay. Yup - just "city living" in good old San Francisco.

City Living

I grew up in New York City... Upper West Side of Manhattan. These days that neighborhood is all the rage... most don't realize that's also the part of town that "West Side Story" and it's gangs lived in during the 1950's into the 1960's. When I took the subway to my high school in the 1980's they still looked like the ones in the gang movie "Warrior"... completely littered with graffiti, and never, ever feeling safe.

The above is my frame of reference... it's what I compare to San Francisco living. When someone says San Francisco has bad traffic... I just laugh and think about the 4 hours it took me to cross from the East Side to the West Side during the Puerto Rican Day Parade, or the drive from JFK to the Upper West Side now when I visit my family.... or I think of my business trips to LA... 2 hours to go 20 miles.

When someone complains it took them 20 minutes to find a parking spot... I recall the 2 and 3 hours waits I had in NYC to get "right side parking". When they complain of bad drivers... I think of NYC cabbies, town cars and deliver guys jockeying for position in a mad race to the next light... or the honking that begins 3 seconds before the light turns green to make sure no one delays even one second when it finally does turn green.

To me, San Francisco is a dream of a city. In total contrast, my fiancee is from a small town in Canada that is surrounded for miles and miles by farm land. She thinks San Francisco is crime ridden and dirty. I think it's Utopia. In other words, it depends on your background, and what you are comparing it too.

This past weekend there were too hit & run fatalities - one late Friday night (2am Sat) and the other late Saturday night (1:30am Sun). The comments section under the SFGate.com story will give you a clue as to the wide opinions a city like San Francisco can garner about how our streets are shared (or not shared).

To those who don't like what San Francisco has become... I say try living in New York or LA or nearly any other large city... and then compare it to San Francisco. As unfortunate as these fatalities are... and as heinous as hit & runs are... as a city boy through and through I know that late Friday or Saturday nights are the times to be most cautious... the worst of the worst are out then... drunk drivers, drunk pedestrians... plus that is when robbers are out in force too. If you live in San Francisco... you must realize, it is a city. When my fiancee left her bag in her car for several hours and returned to a smashed window... I call that city living.

Yes, San Francisco could be better... but it's still the best city in the country. Physical beauty, access to the outdoors, great restaurants, shopping and culture... you simply can't find the best of all worlds meshed together so well any where else.

To those so angry at cars, or at pedestrians, or at bicycles or at noise, traffic, crime and congestion... I say if you can't handle San Francisco, then all cities are not for you. You do need to lock your door at night and take many other precautions that you don't need to take in the burbs or the country... but that is just City Living.


Sales & Prices up

Dataquest's July numbers are out... San Francisco's sales increased 4.1% over last July (the other 8 Bay Area counties had fewer sales) and prices are up as well... 3.1% over last July.

So here are this year's stats:

Jan '07 - Median Price $750,000 - up 0.7% over Jan '06
Feb '07 - Median Price $757,500 - up 2.4% over Feb '06
Mar '07 - Median Price $753,000 - down 2.1% over Mar '06
Apr '07 - Median Price $790,000 - up 1.4% over Apr '06
May '07 - Median Price $835,000 - up 8.4% over May '06
June '07 - Median Price $825,000 - up 4.4% over June '06
July '07 - Median Price $799,000 - up 3.1% over July '06

Prices tend to peak in April/May when the market is at it's hottest... then cool a tad over the summer, and pick up a bit again in September/October. The bottom line though is that San Francisco remains unaffected by sub-prime woes.

A similar look at other counties will show that Solano, Sonoma, Napa, and Contra Costa counties are struggling. San Francisco... onward and upward.

Blue Angels survive the Chris Daly ban

Controversial City Supervisor Chris Daly apparently has nothing better to do that to try to ban the Blue Angels from their annual fly0ver event in San Francisco. Fortunately for fans of fun, the public and media backlash, and lack of support from fellow Supervisors squashed the proposal.

Daly's reasons for his proposal are several... safety being one since there was a recent crash and death of a Blue Angel pilot. However, as someone who is on the Bay nearly every year to watch the show, I know that most of their trickiest stunts happen over the Bay in the center where the Coast Guard keeps all boats away from. And why should Daly care... he seems to hate what he calls the "privileged class"... which would describe every boat owner most likely to be injured if there were a crash... since we are not his constituents... is this just a publicity stunt on his part?

While accidents are always possible... and I'm not a fan of most other air shows because there seems to be little in terms of safety precaution... these pilots are the best of the best, and take nearly every safety precaution. And if city wide safety is such an issue for Mr. Daly, I've got several suggestion for him:

1. Put up Stop signs at all intersections that only have two... you see this throughout the city, and even locals can be totally surprised to see a car barreling down on them at an intersection we haven't been to before.

2. Stop playing Police Chief or Police Captain. The Board of Supervisors dictates to the Police where patrols should go. Are you kidding me??? Who better than those with feet on the street to position themselves to stop crime. A recent decision to move more patrols into the Western Addition has spawned a rash of armed robberies in the North side of town. One man was shot in Russian Hill after refusing to give up his wallet and last I heard was still in Intensive Care. Crime is clearly a problem throughout the city... but having civilians with no public safety background making decisions about where and how Police should be distributed is ridiculous. They Supervisors actually fight each other over distribution of cops to their districts. HOW can something like this be politicized?

3. Ban bikes... one article cited a California HIghway Patrol database that 60% of bike-car accidents were caused by bicycles. And there is an average of 2 deaths per year of bicycles. A bicyclist nearly killed a friend of mine who was jogging two months ago when the biker ran a stop sign racing down a hill. Oddly stats say that bicyclists are 3 times more likely to be under the influence in accidents compared to car accidents. So.... lets ban all bikes... it's safer for them, for cars and pedestrians.

4. Ban buses... a blogger over at Venture Chronicles says there have been 1200 injuries and 7 deaths from bus accidents in San Francisco. Nearly every day you see a bus running a red light, not pulling into the bus stop causing cars in a hurry to jump into the oncoming lane to get around them, etc. So... let's get rid of buses too - clearly they are a public safety issue.

5. Never leave your house again... it's dangerous on our streets... if you're so concerned about safety, avoids cars, food you yourself haven't prepared, any and all city streets and intersections... and the way your mouth goes... you ought to avoid City Hall because as I hear it, you've got a lot of enemies.

Or... you can go on living your life realizing that risk is unavoidable... and the Blue Angels are no more of a risk than getting into your car... and much less risky that crossing an intersection with only 2 stop signs instead of 4.