Real Estate Today

New construction changing San Francisco landscape

Looking north from Fourth and Townsend PHOTO: Carole Isaacs

For years there has been talk of the need for more housing by the Association of Bay Area Governments. Those of us who have our home in paradise, whether renters or home owners, could easily ignore the housing problem in the past. This is no longer possible.

San Francisco has come to a tipping point where just about everyone is concerned about where people will live and how much it costs to live here. Older people are worried about how their children will be able to afford to live here on their own. There are many families with adult children living at home who only a few years ago would have been living independently. Young people of course would like to have their own apartments or homes, but costs are sky rocketing as I write; and these young people are also trying to figure out what to do. Leaving San Francisco where they grew up is not their first choice.

San Francisco has had its “bubbles,” but at this point we are growing so fast that John Rahaim, the city’s planning director, has said that between 2010 and 2040 the city will need 92,410 new housing units and 191,000 more jobs. These numbers are so large it makes them difficult to ignore.

Since the Gold Rush people have come to San Francisco whether they are invited or not. There is no way to get around it; our lives and the village atmosphere we all cherish in our neighborhoods are going to change. Density will increase, and traffic will be worse.

Just for fun go for a ride around town to view the action. I am not sure what words fit best to describe the visual experience, but “amazing,” “shocking,” “mind boggling,” and “exciting” are a few that come to mind. Since cranes are visible from some distance, it is not necessary to drive up and down every city street. Driving on a few major traffic corridors will give you an opportunity to see the bulk of the construction going on now.

My suggestion is to start at Washington and Van Ness Ave. and drive south on Van Ness to Market Street. Here you can look to the left and right and see buildings going up along market. The real show is the South of Market Area, where City Planning says 80 percent of the current and future construction will take place. Cross Market Street, it turns into South Van Ness Ave. and continue on until you reach Division Street. Turn left here under the freeway and drive until you reach Townsend. Turn left on Townsend and then right at the 3rd Street Bridge by ATT Park. If you are one of those people who likes to say “I was here when all this was nothing but a vacant lot,” you better get to SOMA and Mission Bay soon! In the past few months I have driven around the area several times and it seems like I hardly blink and everything looks different.

The one thing that keeps coming to mind as I see the incredible quantity of new construction is that the thousands of new residents will probably not be staying home every minute they are not at work. They will be out exploring the city and certainly some will be having fantasies about living the good life in one of San Francisco’s many fabulous neighborhoods. If real estate prices are sky rocketing today, one can only speculate what a single family home or condo in a small 2-, 4-, or even 24-unit building will cost in 5, 10, or 20 years.

Even if you are not able to buy the home of your dreams in your first choice neighborhood, please consider just buying a home, because it will not get any easier in the years to come.

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Carole Isaacs is a Realtor with McGuire Real Estate. Visit her online at or call 415-608-1267.