San Francisco

From HousingWiki
San Francisco from Marin Headlands


Founded in 1776 by Spanish missionaries and colonists, San Francisco (Spanish for Saint Francis), officially the City and County of San Francisco, population 870,000, is "the cultural, commercial, and financial center of Northern California." (Wikipedia).

Located at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula, and at the "Golden Gate" or narrow mouth of San Francisco Bay, after which the city was named, San Francisco is about 48 square miles (124 km2) in area, the smallest county—and only consolidated city-county—in California.

San Francisco is notable for its large population and population density:

High density - With a density of about 18,581 people per square mile (7,174 people/km2), San Francisco is the most densely settled large city in California and the second-most densely populated major city in the United States after New York City.  

Populous - San Francisco is the fourth-most populous city in California, after Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose, and the 13th-most populous city in the United States—with a census-estimated 2016 population of 870,887. 

The city and its surrounding areas (encompassing nine California counties which border the Bay) are known as the San Francisco Bay Area, and are a part of the larger OMB-designated San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland combined statistical area, the fifth most populous in the nation with an estimated population of 8.7 million. 

  -- adapted from Wikipedia: San Francisco


Nicknames & Motto

  • SF
  • The City
  • The City by the Bay
  • The Golden City
  • Fog City
  • San Fran, Saint Frank, Frisco (all 3 locally disparaged)
  • The City that Knows How (past);
  • Baghdad by the Bay (past);
  • The Paris of the West (archaic; 19thC)

Motto: Oro en Paz, Fierro en Guerra (Spanish); (English: "Gold in Peace, Iron in War").



  • High rent and home prices
  • High rates of displacement and out-migration 
  • Limited housing supply
  • Limited new development and redevelopment, especially of Affordable housing
  • Transit system is considered fragmented, insufficient, underinvested, undermaintained, and overburdened
  • High and rising economic inequality
  • High rates of poverty and homelessness
  • Many areas at high risk due to climate change
  • Many areas at high risk of earthquake and wildfire
  • Relatively scarce water supply
  • Food deserts

Economic Context: Growth and Diversification

Zynga headquarters at 8th and Townsend Image Source: Zero Hedge
Zynga headquarters at 8th and Townsend Image Source: Zero Hedge zynga%20HQ_0.jpg

Since the 1990s, San Francisco's economy has moved increasingly towards the prominence of high-tech, biotech, and medical research. Tech jobs accounted for 1 percent of the city's jobs in 1990. They had grown to 4 percent by 2010 and to an estimated 8 percent by the end of 2013. The San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward Metropolitan Statistical Area (a census designation) saw 90 percent tech industry growth from 2006-2016 according to a report by Praxis Strategy Group. San Francisco can now be said to be an important center for technology, Internet and social media companies (and especially for start-up businesses), attracting increasing venture capital funding compared to neighboring Silicon Valley - a trend the city has attempted to encourage with measures such as payroll tax exemptions for certain kinds of desirable companies.

A lack of new housing development and options and opposition to them coupled with this influx of new jobs and commuters who work in Silicon Valley (another Bay Area nexus of job growth) has contributed to a housing crisis in San Francisco and other Bay Area communities.


Race and Ethnicity

Non-Hispanic Whites accounted for 48 percent of San Francisco's population in 2010, down from 92.5 percent in 1940, making San Francisco a minority-majority city. As of the 2010 United States census, San Francisco's population consisted of

  • 48% Whites - 390,387
  • 33% Asians - 267,915 Residents identifying as Chinese constituted the largest single ethnic block at 21 percent of the population.
  • 6%  African-American/Black - 48, 870  This demographic has seen a steady decline since a high in 1970 of 13.4 percent of the population.
  • 6.6 % Other race 
  • Hispanics or Latinos of any race accounted for 15 percent of the population or 121,744 people.

Education, Households and Income

Following Seattle, San Francisco has the second-highest percentage of residents with a college degree of all major cities in the United States, with over 44% of San Francisco's adults having a bachelor's degree or higher.

San Francisco is a hub for the LGBTQ community with the highest percentage of gay and lesbian individuals of any of the 50 largest U.S. cities, at 15% and the highest percentage of same-sex households of any American county.


San Francisco is estimated to have 13,500 persons with 6,500 living on the streets.


Image Source: Wikipedia
Image Source: Wikipedia 1200px-SFCityHall.png
Municipal and County 

San Francisco (the City and County of San Francisco) has been in place as a consolidated city-county (the only such jurisdiction in California) since 1856 when it split from adjoining San Mateo County.

As a consolidated city-county of the Mayor of San Francisco is also the chief county executive and the County Board of Supervisors also fills the role of a City Council.

San Francisco's charter sets out that the city-county's government consist of two co-equal branches:

Executive Branch - This branch includes the Mayor and other city-wide elected and appointed office-holders, as well as the City and County's civil service

Legislative Branch - The legislative branch consists of the Board of Supervisors, elected to ten specific districts within the City, headed by a president. The Board is responsible for passing laws and budgets and the President of the Board of Supervisors steps in to fill the vacancy in the Executive Branch upon the death or resignation of the Mayor.

Note that legislation in San Francisco is also made through a direct ballot initiative/referendum process.


San Francisco's California State Assembly Districts are the 17th and 19th.


The City of San Francisco constitutes the entirety of California's 12th Congressional District. The District is currently served by House Minority Leader (Democrat), Nancy Pelosi.

Public and Governmental Resources

Neighborhoods and Internal Geographic Designations

View from Coit Tower. Image Source: Kevin and Amanda
View from Coit Tower. Image Source: Kevin and Amanda

City-designated "Analysis Neighborhoods" (41 neighborhoods)

Bayview Hunters Point  |  Bernal Heights  | Castro/Upper Market  | Chinatown  | Excelsior  | Financial District/South Beach  | Glen Park  | Golden Gate Park  | Haight Ashbury  | Hayes Valley  | Inner Richmond  | Inner Sunset  | Japantown  | Lakeshore  | Lincoln Park  | Lone Mountain/USF  | Marina  | McLaren Park  | Mission  | Mission Bay  | Nob Hill  | Noe Valley  | North Beach | Oceanview/Merced/Ingleside  | Outer Mission  | Outer Richmond  | Pacific Heights  | Portola  | Potrero Hill  | Presidio  | Presidio Heights  | Russian Hill  | Seacliff  | South of Market  | Sunset/Parkside  | Tenderloin  | Treasure Island  | Twin Peaks  | Visitacion Valley  | West of Twin Peaks  | Western Addition

San Francisco Planning Neighborhoods

San Francisco Realtor Neighborhoods

Alamo Square | Anza Vista | Balboa Terrace | Bayview | Bayview Heights | Bernal Heights | Buena Vista - Ashbury Heights | Candlestick Point | Central Richmond | Central Sunset | Central Waterfront - Dogpatch | Clarendon Heights | Cole Valley/Parnassus Heights | Corona Heights | Cow Hollow | Crocker Amazon | Diamond Heights | Downtown | Duboce Triangle | Eureka Vally - Dolores Heights | Excelsior | Financial District - Barbary Coast | Forest Hill | Forest Hill Extension | Forest Knolls | Glen Park | Golden Gate Heights | Haight Ashbury | Hayes Valley | Hunters Point | Ingleside | Ingleside Heights | Ingleside Terrace | Inner Mission | Inner Parkside | Inner Richmond | Inner Sunset | Jordan Park - Laurel Heights | Lake Shore | Lakeside | Lake Street | Little Hollywood | Lone Mountain | Lower Pacific Heights | Marina | Merced Heights | Merced Manor | Midtown Terrace | Miraloma Park | Mission Bay | Mission Dolores | Mission Terrace| Monterey Heights | Mount Davidson Manor | Nob Hill| Noe Valley | North Beach | North Panhandle | North Waterfront | Oceanview | Outer Mission | Outer Parkside | Outer Richmond | Outer Sunset | Pacific Heights | Parkside | Pine Lake Park | Portola | Potrero Hill | Presidio Heights | Russian Hill | Saint Francis Wood | Sea Cliff | Sherwood Forest | Silver Terrace | South Beach | South of Market | Stonestown | Sunnyside | Telegraph Hill | Tenderloin | Twin Peaks Van Ness - Civic Center | Visitacion Valley | Western Addition | West Portal | Westwood Highlands | Westwood Park | Yerba Buena

Supervisor Districts (Numbered 1-10)

District 1 - Northwest District 2 - Central West District 3 - Southwest District 4 - Twin Peaks West District 5 - Central District 6 - Central North District 7 - North District 8 - Northeast District 9 - Central East District 10 - Southeast

San Francisco Police Department Districts (10 districts. Note that the Presidio is policed by the United States Park Police)

Bayview  | Central  | Ingleside  | Mission  | Northern  | Park  | Richmond  | Southern  | Taraval | Tenderloin

Neighborhood Associations, Sites, and Organizations

Publications and Blogs

(In progress)

  • San Francisco Chronicle
  • San Francisco Business Times
  • Mercury News
  • Sacramento Bee
  • Curbed San Francisco
  • Metro Observer Press
  • San Francisco Magazine
  • Castro/Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association Newsletter
  • Hoodline

Housing and Urbanist Organizations

(In progress) This list is not specifically YIMBY/pro-development. See the YIMBY Organizations Directory for a listing of SF Bay YIMBY organizations.


Zoning & Planning

In 1978, much of San Francisco was rezoning to limit building heights and density of development. 

The EIR (Environmental Impact Report) predicted cost increases, displacement, and increased pollution from long commutes. 

Dowall, David E. (1982). "The Suburban Squeeze: Land-Use Policies in the San Francisco Bay Area." Cato Journal, Vol 2, No 3 (Winter 1982).

"A suburban land squeeze has hit the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. Extensive post-warland development, increasing use of growth management controls, more restrictive land-use and environmental regulations, and a 'go-slow' development posture created by the passage of Proposition 4 and Proposition 13 have combined to reduce land conversion opportunities in the region considerably."



(In progress) Local Bay Area influencers, activists, journalists, leaders, politicos, researchers, change agents, strategists, and commentators...

  • Sonja Trauss @sonjatrauss
  • Laura Foote Clark
  • Christine Johnson - San Francisco Planning Commissioner; SPUR, San Francisco Director
  • Angela Hockabout @knitluck
  • Brian Hanlon 
  • Annie Fryman
  • Matthew Yglesias
  • Corey Smith
  • Blanca Torres - Covers real estate and economic development for the San Francisco Business Times
  • Roland Li - Real estate reporter with the San Francisco Business Times
  • Scott Weiner - California State Senator
  • Rachele Trigueros - Bay Area Council
  • Victoria Fierce - YIMBY Action Board; East Bay Forward @tdifischer
  • Gabriel Metcalf - President of SPUR
  • Tim McCormick - Houslets; YIMBYwiki
  • Laura Fingal-Surma - Founding board member, YIMBY Action; Co-Founder Progress Noe Valley
  • Dan Fingal-Surma
  • Bobak Esfandiari 
  • Steve Boland @calurbanist
  • Skylar Taylor - YIMBY Action
  • Daniel Camp



See section in Reading List: San Francisco / Bay Area history and issues, the contents of which should also be included below. 








  • Bagwell, Beth. Oakland The Story of a City (1982; 2nd edition 2012). 
  • Brechin, Gray. Imperial San Francisco: Urban Power, Earthly Ruin (2001). 
  • DeLeon, Richard. Left coast city: progressive politics in San Francisco, 1975-1991 (1992).
  • Hartman, Chester. City for Sale: The Transformation of San Francisco (2002). 
  • Margolin, Malcolm. The Ohlone Way: Indian life in the San Francisco-Monterey Bay Area.(1978; Berkeley: Heyday Books; 25th Anniversary Ed. with a new Afterword, 2002).
  • Polledri, Paolo. Visionary San Francisco (1990).
  • Self, Robert O. American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland. (Princeton University Press, 2003).