An inside look at one of the last San Francisco neighbourhoods to be taken over by big tech — and how change has come to the area anyway

Katie Canales/Business InsiderBayview is one of the last holdouts to the tech and housing boom. But it’s hard to stop the machine.
  • It’s no secret that San Francisco‘s housing crisis is in full swing.
  • It’s caused parts of the city to turn inside out in recent years to accommodate the influx of wealthy tech workers seeking housing in the Bay Area.
  • The neighbourhood of Bayview is one of the more recent parts to be ensnarled in the drastic shifts demanded by the region’s real estate plight.
  • Here’s what the neighbourhood is like and how it’s changing.

At San Francisco’s southeast corner sits the suburban-like district of Bayview.

The once predominantly African-American neighbourhood largely consists of mum-and-pop shops and is defined by its deep sense of community identity, one that was partly born out of the area’s rich history in the city’s maritime and butcher industries.

But the neighbourhood is in the midst of an on-going transformation since being tugged into San Francisco’s housing crisis. Housing developers are constantly clamoring for more space as the booming tech industry continues to create a high demand for living quarters.

But Bayview residents are determined to stand their ground and fend off the negative effects of gentrification snaking its way through other parts of the city.

I spent a day meandering through Bayview to see what it’s all about – and to witness how the most competitive real estate market in the world is affecting the fabric of the community.

Check it out:


Welcome to the neighbourhood of Bayview.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

It sits on the southeast side of the city, right on the waterfront.

Google Maps/Business Insider

I was constantly catching whiffs of seawater while walking around the neighbourhood.

Google Maps/Business Insider

The area has roots in the maritime economy, but more so historically in the butcher industry. Bayview was originally called Butchertown.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Found SF


Due to an animal slaughter ban issued by the city, butchers in the late 1800s were pushed to the outer limits of San Francisco to keep the smells, sounds, and other aspects of the gory business away from city dwellers.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Found SF


So they settled in what is now Bayview.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: 7X7


Bayview’s sister neighbourhood, Hunters Point, became a booming commercial shipyard before serving as a naval base in the WWll era.

Keystone/Getty Images

Source: The San Francisco Shipyard


But when the Navy decommissioned it in 1974, the hustle and bustle surrounding the district began to die down.

Source: The San Francisco Shipyard


On top of that, Bayview had no direct transit lines connecting the district to the city center until 2007. The area’s isolation from the center of San Francisco contributed to a slumped economy.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: The New York Times


Criminal activity began to mar the neighbourhood, resulting in some of the highest rates of homicide and drug use in the city.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: The New York Times


But the area’s isolation also allowed a deep sense of community to develop among Butchertown residents. And it’s a feeling that has endured to today. Residents still stop and chat with each other on the street, a gesture rare in other parts of San Francisco.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: SF Curbed


The addition of the T-Third light-rail line in 2007 spurred what would become the start of a revitalization of the community.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: SF Gate


The public transit line is the first to connect the district to the city center.

Google Maps/Business Insider

Source: SF Gate


As a result, more and more San Francisco housing developers, and the high-earning tech workers that inevitably follow, have turned their wolfish eyes to the waterfront district, spelling rising housing prices and other significant changes for the community.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: The New York Times


In fact, housing developers have already begun to swoop in. In the past year, several up-scale housing units were set in motion on San Francisco’s abandoned shipyard in Hunters Point.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider


Before reports revealed that areas near the new condos may still be contaminated with leftover toxic materials, some people were willing to spend around $US1.5 million a pop to live on the former nuclear test site.

Melia Robinson/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider, Business Insider


For now, though, developers have to wait until the Navy can prove that the area’s clean and safe before they can keep developing.

Source: Business Insider, Business Insider


Bayview’s proximity to the contaminated zone hasn’t helped public perception of the area — some worry that that kind of exposure to radiation can lead to serious health issues. But that hasn’t stopped newcomers from moving in.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: SF Curbed


The once predominantly African-American community is fighting to maintain its hold on the neighbourhood, as easy access to the city’s financial district and new housing development threaten to draw in wealthy newcomers and push out veteran residents…

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: The San Francisco Examiner


…which is what happened to the Mission District north of Bayview. Long-time Bayview residents witnessed the changes and are now up in arms about defending their own turf.

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesAbove: The Mission District in San Francisco.

Source: CBS San Francisco Bay Area


We have to “make sure that opportunity that comes is available to the people who have been here forever,” said Bayview resident Shamann Walton. The situation has set tensions high.

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesHousing activists staged a demonstration in 2011 in front of a Bayview home that was set to be foreclosed upon.

Source: CBS San Francisco Bay Area


A photo series installed at transit shelters along the T-Third Street line featuring portraits of Bayview residents sparked controversy recently because it included the portrait of a white man who’s been a Bayview resident for eight years. Detractors said his inclusion perpetuated the very gentrification that Bayview community is trying to fight.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderAbove: 29 portraits from the ‘#iambayview’ project are posted at transit stops up and down Third Street.

You can view the photo series in its entirety here.

Source: SF Gate


Their concerns regarding newcomers taking over their neighbourhood are valid.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderA 197-foot concrete grain silo, decked out in a technicolored mural, is a familiar sight amongst locals. It welcomes you as you cross over the Islais Creek from the Dogpatch neighbourhood into Bayview.

Source: SF Gate


The neighbourhood’s home prices have already begun to skyrocket as the area becomes more desirable to homebuyers.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: CBS San Francisco Bay Area


In 2014, a home (not pictured) in Bayview was priced at $US599,000 — and it ended up selling for $US300,000 over that asking price.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderA newer apartment complex in the Bayview neighbourhood.

Source: CBS San Francisco Bay Area


And that’s in one of the lowest median real estate markets in the city. The neighbourhood was hit the worst by the 2008 recession, but has also enjoyed the city’s highest compound annual appreciation rate of 18.3% since then.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Bay Area Market Reports


That means Bayview home prices have appreciated more than 170% in the last seven years. The district’s listing prices now average at about $US890,000. Though that’s still a high price tag, it’s still well below San Francisco’s median home sale price of $US1.62 million.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Sources: Redfin,Business Insider, and San Francisco Business Times


But that’s not to say the neighbourhood doesn’t have million dollar homes. This boxy, pink, two-story abode is listed on the market for $US2.29 million.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Redfin


On the other end of the spectrum, though, this newly-listed red 1,800-square-foot home is listed for a mere $US728,000. That’s extremely affordable by San Francisco standards.

Google Street View

Source: Redfin


Bayview also has one of the highest home ownership rates in the city at 57.2% compared to the city’s overall rate of 36.8%.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Data USA and US Census Bureau


That means there’s a more permanent set of residents in Bayview than other parts of the city, which tends to foster a greater sense of community than would temporary renters.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

That neighbourhood identity is steeped in the Bayview business community as well, specifically along the lively Third Street Corridor.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Though most Third Street storefronts I passed were occupied, there were also vacant buildings and parking lots dotted around from block to block.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Most were encircled by wired fences sporting signs forbidding trespassing.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

The Bayview Opera House, which opened in 1888 and recently underwent a $US5.7 million renovation, still stands on Third Street as a cultural center for the community. You won’t see many operas there anymore, but you can catch dance performances and or take a class.

Source: The San Francisco Shipyard, Bayview Opera House, SFGate


One block down is Old Skool Cafe. The jazz-themed soul food restaurant and reformation program has been employing troubled youth at its Bayview location for 14 years now.

Source: Old Skool Cafe


Founder Teresa Goines has employed over 400 youth between the ages of 16 and 22 that are recovering from abuse, violence, crime, and neglect.

Source: Old Skool Cafe


Craftsman and Wolves is a newer shop.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Known as CAW, or simply “The Den,” it sits toward the southern end of Bayview, off the main Third Street drag, and serves the community homemade pastries and coffee.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Hoodline


The upmarket cafe moved into the Bayview neighbourhood two years ago, though its commercial kitchen in the back has been producing the company’s goods for six years now.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Foursquare, Eater


San Francisco residents might know the patisserie for its presence in the city’s hipster Mission District. The Craftsman and Wolves location there has also been in business for six years.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderAbove: A barista at Bayview’s Craftsman and Wolves tends to a customer.

Source: SF Gate


Owner William Werner said Bayview felt “like the Wild West” when he first moved his business into the district. But now, he said he can feel the neighbourhood changing.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Werner said the attitude of his fellow Bayview business owners made the neighbourhood a good fit for CAW. “Everyone’s really passionate, everyone’s scrappy, and everyone wants to help each other,” Werner said.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

CAW also has a “good neighbour” policy, inviting customers to pay extra when buying a slice of pizza for a person in need of a hot meal. They can then stick a post-it note on the window alerting passerby in need that food is available for them.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

I didn’t see any post-it notes when I visited.

Source: Hoodline


It’s Werner’s way of paying it forward. “I didn’t want to create this shop and feel alienated, and I also don’t want to alienate people in the community,” Werner told Hoodline.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Hoodline


To get a feel for the cafe, I stopped in and ordered a hearty morning meal, complete with a cappuccino, for a total of $US17.10.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

The warm breakfast sandwich came with a whole egg frittata, sun gold tomatoes, and Swiss cheese tucked between slices of toasted milk bread.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

I gobbled it up, feeling nice and full afterwards. At one point I felt something brush up against my leg…

Katie Canales/Business Insider

…and looked down to find an orange cat with no regard for personal space.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

This little guy, who the barista told me is named Harold, meandered throughout the cafe while his owner enjoyed his breakfast.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Customers weren’t bothered in the least when Harold demanded their attention. It clearly felt like a neighbourhood spot, with a fair mix of regulars and newcomers coming and going.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Other establishments, like G. Mazzei & Son’s Hardware on Third Street, have been in Bayview much longer.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

The Bayview staple store has been open since 1936 when the founding Mazzei opened its doors.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: SF Gate


The following two generations of Mazzei’s then took the reins, tending to the hardware needs of customers.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: SF Gate


Rusting antique tools and doodads grace the front window displays.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

The Mazzei family still uses the original key duplicating machine, which has lived to see the ripe old age of 80 years. None of the Mazzei’s were in when I visited, but a shop associate said the machine is just too reliable to swap it for a shiny new one.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Five blocks up sits another Bayview landmark: Auntie April’s, known for its decadent soul food.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: SF Eater


It’s been rocking the neighbourhood, and the city for that matter, with its award-winning shrimp and grits and chicken and waffles for 12 years now.

YouTube/All Things BayviewOwner April Sears prepares her sinfully delicious waffles.

Source: SF Eater


Owner April Spears also just opened a second business, Cafe Envy, this month a few blocks south of her soul food restaurant. It serves beer, wine, and cocktails, as well as some food.

Katie Canales/Business InsiderAbove: The pink corner building that now houses April Spears’ new restaurant was a nightclub in its former life.

Source: SF Eater and Hoodline


Back up at Auntie Aprils,’ the interior was no-nonsense, without any fancy furniture — just regular tables and chairs. I knew I’d found a good joint.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

I ordered the chicken and waffles and an iced tea for $US17.36. A chicken and waffles novice, I didn’t know how to go about eating it at first. A quick Google search advised me that forking chicken, waffle, and syrup all at once was the way to go…

Katie Canales/Business Insider

…and my world has not been the same since. The warm maple syrup and fluffy waffles mixed with the piping hot fried chicken was the most delicious thing I’ve tasted in a while. It’s mouthwatering to think about.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Next door to Auntie April’s is the newly-opened Tato, a bright and airy Mexican eatery sporting tacos priced around $US4. Despite the recent opening, owner Kristin Houk is a Bayview resident of 15 years…

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Hoodline and SF Eater


…and also owns All Good Pizza, an outdoor counter a few blocks up whose wafting smells of cheese and dough made me wish that the chicken and waffles hadn’t filled me up so much. The 12-inch pizzas are priced between $US11 and $US14.50.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Zomato


The entire corner lot was decked out in stools, picnic tables, plants of all kinds, eating areas, and strings of large bulbed lights hung over the space.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Groups of people sat around eating and enjoying the day.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

My last Third Street stop was Sam Jordan’s Bar, the oldest African-American bar in San Francisco.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Sam Jordan Bar and Grill


A Navy veteran and boxing champion, Sam Jordan opened his bar, originally called Sam Jordan’s Tavern, in 1959. Four years later, he would become the first African-American to run for San Francisco mayor.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Sam Jordan Bar and Grill


He finished fourth out of eight candidates but he was regarded so highly by his fellow Bayview residents that he earned the nickname “The Mayor of Butchertown” after the neighbourhood’s original name.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: Sam Jordan Bar and Grill


Jordan passed away in 2003, but his children now run the spot. Ten years after his death, the city declared his bar an historical landmark.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: SF Examiner and Sam Jordan’s Bar and Grill


I would have stopped in for a beer, but I had a 30-minute trek to Heron’s Head Park ahead of me, one that alcohol would make a bit more difficult.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

The 22-acre park sits at the west end of the neighbourhood right on the water.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

Source: SF Gov


It juts out into the bay, running parallel to Hunters Point just south of it.

Google Maps/Business Insider

There are unobstructed views of the bay, creeks, and of course herons.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

From here, you can catch a glimpse of how early Bayview settlers, or rather Butchertown settlers, viewed their new home.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

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