I’ve had many ideas to post but not acted on anything for a few months. Even now I’ve dithered writing this while looking back through images that were meant to be illustrated, but never authored. I can’t say why – sometimes the writing block refuses to be described.

One recurring feeling continues to bubble up: San Francisco is poised on the curling edge of a wave of change. Massive infrastructure projects are underway around the city, such as haven’t been done for many years. It’s not just the blue glass and aluminum silos that are sprouting in the former industrial warrens of Rincon Hill. It’s the transformative developments:

  • Candlestick Park is now gone and all that was part of it. With little public fanfare and a huge expanse of area in which to build, redevelopment work is moving forward and the first new housing is already under construction.
  • The Transbay Transit Center project has emerged above ground but still has several years to go. Now that the Salesforce Tower is underway, developers surrounding the site are rushing to get their shovels in the ground. Though there had been some worry about funding the urban park that was to be a theme of the transit center’s roof, I’m sure that, a la Hudson Yards, the building owners will see the benefit of having access to such an amenity for their tenants and will kick in some cash or work to make it happen.
  • The Central Subway is the first new underground line in decades in The City, and many people are onboard with the idea the next one should happen much more quickly. As it is this cross-town line will create a significant new artery between Mission Bay and Union Square/Chinatown. It also forebodes a shift for North Beach and the Marina. Change will accelerate in these densely populated neighborhoods. Not so much for Telegraph Hill, protected by Aaron Peskin and geography, not to mention the ridiculous entry price for housing there.
  • Crissy Field is San Francisco’s front yard. Already loved to pieces by the work of the Presidio Trust over the past ten years, the replacement of Doyle Drive with the Presidio Parkway and the renovation of the surrounding public space will change beyond recognition – and the space is already unrecognizable from just ten years ago.

But the most significantly, I feel the housing pressure easing ever so slightly. A small studio still costs more in annual rent than purchasing a small motorhome, and you can buy a garage space for the price of a one-bedroom condo in some parts of  the country. But the frenzy seems to have abated, as if the crowd chasing real estate suddenly poured out of a narrow alley into a wide plaza and is slowing down to assess the landscape. I’m not quite sure how to quantify it, or what it means. Especially since the prices are still high – but soft.

A friend recently gave up her two-bedroom condo and moved into the City after an absence of some twenty years. She found two shared rentals within as many months. Anecdotal yes, but she was able to find places without spending half her paycheck.

It’s also winter, when the market gets sluggish anyway. But I started this post nearly two months ago. We’ll see what the coming months bring. Especially summer, when a number of new apartment units are due to come onto the market in Mission Bay.


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