Tilden Park; for Children of All Ages — How Berkeley’s Beloved Park Provides a Magical Experience

If Golden Gate Park embodies San Francisco’s eclectic vibe, Tilden Park 
represents everything wholesome about the East Bay. This 2,000-acre wooded sanctuary, packed with hiking and running trails, is a perfect place for a picnic or a simple stroll. But there are also plenty of activities to enjoy with your little ones, or engage your inner child.

THE STEAM TRAINS

Redwood Valley Railway is colloquially known to park-lovers as “the steam trains” — miniature trains in majestic, authentic detail that loop through the park every weekend year round. For twelve glorious minutes, passengers are whisked (albeit slowly) along a scenic ridge and through vibrant redwood groves.

A VINTAGE CAROUSEL

The Tilden Regional Park Merry-Go-Round is an authentic turn-of-the-century carousel with hand-carved wooden horses, as well as lions, giraffes, roosters, pigs, and zebras. One of the last operating antique carousels in the country, Tilden Park’s was once in service at California amusement parks from Los Angeles to Ocean Beach. Upgrades to the platform deck, mechanics, and color pallette spin the carousel into the modern era.

LITTLE FARM

A working farm and petting zoo, Little Farm is a free attraction to see cows, goats, sheep, chickens, rabbits, and pigs in their “natural” habitat. Bring lettuce and celery (only lettuce and celery) to feed these animals year round. There’s also a nearby playground.

JEWEL LAKE NATURE TRAIL

Accompanying a visit to Little Farm,this modest half-mile journey around adjacent Jewel Lake is perfect for a leisurely stroll. A rustic one-acre pond created in 1922 as a water supply, then subsequently abandoned, now stands as a bucolic aquatic sanctuary ringed by wooden bridges and quaint duck signage.

 

TILDEN NATURE CENTER

Adjacent to Little Farm sits a free museum, where the park’s many interpretive programs often gather before embarking. Learn the story of the Wildcat Creek Watershed, see models of indigenous people, and explore life-size dioramas.

NIMITZ WAY

Park at Inspiration Point to head out on this popular and easy trek. The paved, relatively flat trail (net elevation gain is a mere 100 feet), with plenty of rest benches, is a fantastic stroll for little ones — even in strollers. Enjoy seasonal wildflowers and giddy songbirds, then take in the stunning 360-degree views of the greater East Bay. If you persevere for 3.5 miles, you’ll reach a peak in Wildcat Canyon Park.

 

LAKE ANZA

In the warm, sunny East Bay, a good swimming hole is priceless. Lake Anza boasts a sandy beach and well-maintained swim area with lifeguards on duty in the summertime. The littlest citizens have their own area for wading and splashing, with a deeper part of the lake reserved for adults and older kids who pass a swim test.


Distinct Dining Spots — Only-in-the-Bay Places to Eat and Mingle

There’s no shortage of exquisite food in the Bay Area, but for that truly unique dining experience — seek out these culinary gems.

SAN FRANCISCO

BELLOTA

With its traditional Spanish cuisine and libations delivered in a modern space filled with natural light, Bellota is perhaps the Absinthe Group’s 
most ambitious effort in its quest to define San Francisco cuisine. Chef Ryan McIlwraith’s specialty is paella, including one nicknamed “San Francisco treat” a cheeky homage to the old Rice-A-Roni commercials (but nothing like Rice-A-Roni at all). The tapas selection is sensational, the sangria to die for, and the roasted, fermented brussels sprouts truly divine.
MORE INFORMATION: bellotasf.com

FOREIGN CINEMA

A beloved San Francisco dining experience since 1999, Foreign Cinema could coast on its reputation as a hip back-patio movie theater and restaurant in the heart of the Mission. But this iconic spot never skimps on culinary quality. For years it has kept traction with constant recognition from local media (on the Chronicle’s Bay Area-wide “Top 100 Restaurant” list for 16 straight years) and industry organizations (the owner/chefs are frequently nominated for James Beard Foundation awards). Watch a classic film as you enjoy exquisite menu items for dinner or weekend brunch.
MORE INFORMATION: foreigncinema.com

The East Bay

ESIN

For thirty years, Esin has been quietly serving elegant fare to Danville patrons of the culinary arts. American food with “Mediterranean flare,” the lunch and dinner menus are stockpiled with tantalizing options, and the low-key but swank dining room is the perfect place to impress a guest. Even when owners Esin and Curtis deCarion opened a sister restaurant, Revel Kitchen & Bar, across town, Esin’s offerings didn’t suffer. The makers’ dedication to serving fresh food from sustainable, seasonal ingredients shines through.
MORE INFORMATION: esinrestaurant.com

ROOFTOP RESTAURANT & BAR

Walnut Creek has grown into a vibrant community with its own unique culture and choice dining spots. Rooftop Restaurant & Bar is a jewel of the city, revered by locals for its vibe as well as its menu. The cosmopolitan ambience is paired with 
a spectacular view of town. Patrons can choose to sit in the sheltered Tower Room, on one of three patios, or gather around the bar itself. Menu items are heavy on the imaginative starters and shared plates, including a raw bar and other delicious seafood options.
MORE INFORMATION: rooftopwc.com

The North Bay

FISH

Perhaps no restaurant says “Sausalito” more than Fish, the appropriately named sustainable seafood spot on Harbor Drive, with its view of a marina and aroma of salty sea air from the Bay — so close you can touch it. The ambience is casual. You wait in line to order, then hurry to snap up a picnic table on the patio. But the self-serve mentality belies the absolutely delicious seafood. Fish’s commitment to protecting wild fish populations and supporting the local fishing industry has won it many accolades over its many years as an unassuming culinary anchor of Southern Marin.
MORE INFORMATION: 331fish.com

MURRAY CIRCLE AT CAVALLO POINT

There’s a rarified air to the culture of Marin County an upscale place, yet without a hint of stuffiness. The ambience at Murray Circle Restaurant in Cavallo Point at Fort Baker exemplifies this paradox of down-to-earth luxury. And the menu, full of ingredients from Bay Area farms, ranches, and fisheries, is always tantalizing. Pair local ling cod or Skywalker Ranch wagyu beef carpaccio with a bottle from the Wine Spectator Grand Award-winning collection of over 2,000 bottles (and an impressive 30 wines by the glass). Sit in the elegant dining room, adjacent to Farley Bar, or on the historic porch, with its unfettered views of the Golden Gate Bridge. 
MORE INFORMATION: cavallopoint.com/murray-circle-restaurant

PLACE Magazine


Unconventional Quintessential San Francisco Experiences

Visiting tourists are drawn to the magnificent icons of Golden Gate Park, the Palace of Fine Arts, AT&T ballpark, and, of course, the Golden Gate Bridge. Dig a little deeper, and the city has plenty of unconventional adventures to offer the more inquisitive sort.
For your consideration, here are a handful of quintessentially San Francisco experiences that are sometimes overlooked.

THE BEAT MUSEUM

In the 1950s, a collective of East Coast writers, artists, and free spirits migrated west to San Francisco and started a movement that became an integral part of the counterculture of the time. The Beat Generation railed against the “square” aspects of conventional society, and gave birth to classic American literature, including Jack Kerouac’s book “On the Road” and Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl.” The Beat Museum in North Beach houses an impressive collection of memorabilia, original manuscripts, first editions, letters, personal effects, and cultural ephemera.
MORE INFORMATION: kerouac.com

GOLDEN GATE FORTUNE COOKIE FACTORY

Located in historic Ross Alley in Chinatown, San Francisco’s famous fortune cookie factory produces custom variations of the prophecy-holding treat. While the origin of the fortune cookie is unclear, some tales identify San Francisco as its birthplace. Visitors of the factory can observe how they get those little slips of wisdom inside the cookie for free, however it costs fifty cents to take a picture.
MORE INFORMATION: sanfranciscochinatown.com

THE PIRATE STORE AT 826 VALENCIA

The Pirate Store on Valencia Street stocks all buccaneer necessities: pocket sundials, spyglasses, hand-stitched hook hands, and “Scurvy Begone” lemon gummies. Behind the retail space is the youth writing lab known as 826 Valencia, founded by author Dave Eggers and local educator Nínive Calegari. This nonprofit brings together city kids and volunteers in an afterschool program designed to promote literacy and creativity. Purchases at the Pirate Store support the free writing program.
MORE INFORMATION: 826valencia.org/store

DRAG BRUNCH AT THE STARLIGHT ROOM

Every Sunday morning, Harry Denton’s Starlight Room atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel transforms into a den of glamour and mimosas. Often considered the “best drag brunch” in San Francisco, the weekly downtown affair includes a raucous and hilarious cabaret show by the city’s talented drag queens and transgender performers. It’s a modern twist on old-world glam, served up with classic brunch items such as beef tartare and caviar. Come for the spectacle; stay for the feast.
MORE INFORMATION: starlightroomsf.com

LANDS END LABYRINTH

Art, adventure, naturalism, and spirituality collide at Eagle’s Point in Lands End. At the end of a promontory overlooking the Pacific and the Golden Gate Bridge, lies a monument to peace, love, and enlightenment. This winding path of rocks was originally set in sand by artist Eduardo Aguilera in 2004, but it has been vandalized and rebuilt so many times that the labyrinth has become a community creation. Locals love the zen quality of a quiet stroll through the maze. 
MORE INFORMATION: 
parksconservancy.org/visit/park-sites/lands-end.html

PLACE Magazine


Angel Island — A Ferry Ride Back in Time

One of the things that sets the Bay Area apart is the easy and abundant access to nature — not just parks and trails, but places steeped in rich history. Angel Island is one such magical place. A short ferry ride from San Francisco or Tiburon transports you to an undeveloped place with layers of historical significance.

Once a hunting and fishing destination for Coastal Miwoks, Angel Island was named by Spanish sailors who landed there in 1775 as the first Europeans entered the San Francisco Bay. They called it Isla de los Angeles, although American sailors later nicknamed it “Wood Island” for the abundance of trees. Army personnel again renamed the land Fort McDowell, but the original moniker stuck, through years of use as a military camp, quarantine station, Nike mission station, and immigration control point.
Today, remnants of that rich past remain in what’s now California State Park protected land. Debark the ferry and you step into a wild, beautiful place with panoramic views of the entire Bay and some of the best bird watching around. The grebes, blue herons, and egrets love it here — and so will you.

 

AYALA COVE

The ferries to Angel Island land in Ayala Cove, where a visitor center and seasonal cafe are more or less the only modern amenities. Some daytrippers come to bask in the sun on the small beach, execute 
a barbecue using the basic facilities, or picnic under the Tasmanian blue gum eucalyptus — a non-native species planted by the army a hundred years ago which have largely taken over the arboreal landscape.

 

THE PERIMETER

Many visitors walk or bike the five-mile perimeter on the aptly named Perimeter Road. There are numerous smaller trails that offshoot this surfaced road, and maps are available at the Welcome Center. Hikers can summit Mt. Livermore for a more strenuous workout and an epic view of the Bay, but bicycles must be left behind for this part of the journey.

 

HISTORIC SITES

When hiking the periphery of the island counterclockwise, you’ll pass a legion of historic military sites including garrisons, forts, and barracks. But the more subtle history must be sought out. On the walls of the Angel Island Immigration Station are etched a collection of poetry written by Chinese detainees awaiting decisions on their entry status from the early 20th Century. Preservationists have fought to save these poems and today the Immigration Station has been converted into a museum.

 

CAMPING

A limited number of sites across four camping areas provide an overnight escape from city life, but they fill up very quickly early in the year. Most of them are walk-in sites, so bank on a 40-minute-or-so hike from the ferry dock. The last ferry “home” leaves at 4pm. Once the daytrippers are gone, the island is a sweet, tranquil spot for camping.

 

WATER ACCESS

Ayala Cove has some of the largest public docks in the Bay, with 40-foot slips and 20-foot mooring buoys perfect for aquatic entré. (Either use a California State Park Annual Day-Use Pass or self-pay; first come, first served.) Kayakers, too, love the island. For them, more isolated parts of the shoreline become a unique adventure.

PLACE Magazine


Pampering Places — A Spa for Every Body and Soul

Whether your idea of R&R is a luxury spa setting with all the accoutrements or a more eccentric but equally tranquil experience, the Bay Area is rich in great spa options.

San Francisco

 

NOB HILL SPA AT THE HUNTINGTON

Nob Hill is the tony top of the city, and the Scarlet Huntington Hotel it’s crown jewel. A landmark building circa 1924, the Huntington was refurbished recently. Within this legendary urban hotel, Nob Hill Spa is an exquisite oasis of its own, beloved by travelers as well as locals with a yen to book a massage or bliss out in the Zen Relaxation Room. Visitors can also choose to relax aquatically in the sauna, steam room, infinity pool, or whirlpool.
PRICE: Starts at $160 for a classic 
50-minute massage
HOW TO RESERVE: nobhillspa.com

 

SENSPA
As the Presidio grounds have 
evolved into a collection of choice restaurants, shops, and businesses, one exceptionally zen-like center serves as an anchor. SenSpa has a mission to “guide every guest to their optimal state of well-being” with a well-curated roster of services and a talented squad of healers. Yes, you can get a massage, but you can also sign up for acupuncture, naturopathic medicine, or a Senzen Body Ritual that includes a full-body lemongrass scrub. Go early and enjoy one of the tranquil reading areas before your treatment.

PRICE: Starts at $145 for a 50-minute Swedish massage
HOW TO RESERVE: senspa.com

 

BURKE WILLIAMS
To relax amidst the hustle of downtown San Francisco, head to Burke Williams in the Westfield Shopping Centre. The Parisienne theme of the spa’s decor imparts a cosmopolitan vibe of luxury while promising refuge from the city. Along with standard spa offerings such as massage, aromatherapy, and facials, Burke Williams is famous for its Wetroom Treatment. In a specially built Wetroom with custom shower heads, have mineral salts or sugars massaged into your skin for a sublime exfoliation experience.

PRICE: Starts at $150 for a 50-minute massage
HOW TO RESERVE: burkewilliamsspa.com

The East Bay

 

WOODHOUSE DAY SPA
“Welcome, and here are your reflexology sandals.” This first-class luxury spa in Walnut Creek takes stress-release seriously. Your visit begins with a cup of tea in the Quiet Room. Next you might choose to embark upon a signature service such as the Woodhouse Minkyti, an 80-minute “age-defying facial” replete with organic seaweed and utter relaxation. The family of Woodhouse Spas were voted “America’s Favorite Day Spa” by American Spa Magazine’s Professional Choice Awards — among many other accolades and awards — the Woodhouse Day Spa is the place to relax and unwind in posh style.

PRICE: Starts at $105 for a 50-minute Swedish massage
HOW TO RESERVE: walnutcreek.woodhousespas.com

 

CLAREMONT CLUB & SPA
Simply known as “The Claremont” to its devoted fans, this hotel and spa sits high in the Berkeley Hills overlooking the Bay. Built in 1905, the grand white building, surrounded by palms, gives an elegant impression at the outset, but the spa experience is remarkable. There are 32 treatment rooms, a full-service hair-and-nail salon, a eucalyptus steam room, saline whirlpools, a full menu of healing therapies… and childcare services available every day of the week.

PRICE: Starts at $165 for a 50-minute Therapeutic Relaxation massage 
HOW TO RESERVE: fairmont.com

 

THE SPA AT THE PARK
The Lafayette Park Hotel & Spa 
(in Lafayette) has old-world charm that starts with the European decor and extends to the exceptional treatments delivered in a secluded spa. Signature treatments include hot stone massage, aromatherapy massage, and couples’ candlelight massage. Or consider the Lush Vanilla Fig Wrap, the Blossom Exfoliation, or the Organic Enzyme Facial. Make sure to save time to sit by the outdoor pool in an atmosphere reminiscent of the French Countryside.

PRICE: Starts at $105 for a 50-minute Park Classic Massage
HOW TO RESERVE: lafayetteparkhotel.com

The North Bay

 
photo: Kodiak Greenwood

CAVALLO HEALING ARTS CENTER & SPA
A visit to Cavallo Point’s day spa in Sausalito is not merely a massage; it’s an integrated experience in a tranquil setting. You might arrive early to read by the fireplace in a plush robe, or opt to stay late for dinner and drinks at Farley Bar or Murray Circle across the way. But the centerpiece of your experience will certainly be the treatment itself. Cavallo Healing Arts Center lives up to its name with a full suite of integrative medicine services including acupuncture, nutritional counseling, yoga and martial arts practices, and a lovely tea bar.

PRICE: Starts at $175 for a basic 60-minute massage
HOW TO RESERVE: cavallopoint.com

 

SPA SOLAGE
A getaway to Calistoga is relaxing no matter how you go about it, but Solage ups the luxury quota with its five-star experience. The ideal way to “do” Solage is with a stay at the resort. Have your meals at Solbar, the onsite restaurant that’s a veritable homage to Napa Valley’s best food and wine. But the spa stands on its own, with its Bathhouse and Mud Bar featuring healing geothermal pools and mineral-rich mud therapy. A full menu of exquisite twists on standard spa treatments is also available.

PRICE: Starts at $180 for a 60-minute signature massage
HOW TO RESERVE: solage.aubergeresorts.com

 

OSMOSIS DAY SPA SANCTUARY
Just past the charming Wild Flour Bread bakery on Bohemian Highway, a winding and verdant path in western Sonoma County, you’ll find a marvelous little spa in a tranquil country setting. This Japanese-inspired spa is unique, and while you can book a wonderful classic massage or facial here, we highly recommend the signature cedar enzyme bath treatment, followed by a sound therapy experience. Be sure to visit the sublime Meditation Garden. It’s a relaxing, reflective, reinvigorating experience for your body and soul.

PRICE: Starts at $145 for a 75-minute Swedish-Esalen massage 
HOW TO RESERVE: osmosis.com

PLACE Magazine


Smart Homes — The Technologies of a Modern Lifestyle

Smart homes are becoming mainstream as Bay Area citizens grow increasingly eager to reduce their carbon footprint, secure their homes, and generally make life easier. Driven by recent tech advances such as neural networks, it’s now easier and more enjoyable to create a sustainable, secure modern lifestyle in your home. Here are our picks for the best smart-home products of 2018.

 

BEST HOME BATTERY: TESLA POWERWALL

Tesla Powerwall is a rechargeable lithium ion battery that stores excess solar energy produced by your residential system on sunny days and makes it available on demand later on. The Powerwall can store 13.5 kWh of energy and provide 5 kWh of continuous power — up to 7 kWh at peak. Controlled by a user-friendly app, you can check your energy consumption and production. Powerwall is a smart tool that can detect outages, disconnect your home from the grid, and restore backup power.
READ MORE: tesla.com/powerwall

 

BEST SECURITY SYSTEM: RING

Home security is getting smarter with Ring, letting you keep an eye on your home from anywhere via your smartphone. This state-of-the-art security system has the same features you expect from a traditional security system: motion-activated lights, security cameras, and alarms. Using advanced technology to connect all of these components, and enable you to view and operate the system from anywhere, propels Ring’s home security into the future. You can customize the components to suit your home, with a connected system of strategically placed sensors and cameras that let you quick-view any suspicious activity in real time. For 2018, Ring is boasting spotlight cams that enable siren alarms and ultra-bright LEDs that are activated when your property is breached.
READ MORE: ring.com/2018

 

BEST HOME AUTOMATION: NEST

In the home automation category, Nest’s energy-saving thermostats aren’t just sustainable-minded; they’re beautiful. And unlike typical thermostats that require patience and intelligence to program, they rely on machine-learning technology to get to know your home and its needs, making adjustments as seasons shift. Nest claims that this smart tech saves homeowners an average of 10 to 12 percent on their heating bills a year, and 15 percent on cooling bills. Nest thermostats are easy to install, ENERGY STAR certified, and quite chic.
READ MORE: nest.com/thermostats

 

BEST VIRTUAL ASSISTANT: GOOGLE HOME

At CES, the highly respected annual technology show, Google Assistant was a big winner for 2018. Google’s assistant technology is embedded in many of the company’s products, including an impressive suite of Google Home devices. Use Google Home to lower your thermostat when you’re not there, send music to your speakers, or remind you of your next meeting — all with voice command. Perhaps best of all, it integrates with other Google services you might use, such as Google Calendar and Gmail. Google is planning some impressive new features for 2018 that should make the product even handier. One such feature, Routines, will let you program in a list of tasks that should occur with a single voice command. For instance, “I’m home” could command Home to turn on the lights, turn up the thermostat, fire up a playlist, and queue up a list of chores to complete. Stay tuned for more from Google.

PLACE Magazine


Ready, Set, Bloom — 5 Flower-Filled Hikes in the North Bay

1. Ring Mountain (Mill Valley)

Intermediate | 2.16 Miles

Ring Mountain, nestled between Tiburon and Corte Madera, has it all. The slopes offer stellar views of Mount Tamalpais, the Bay, and the city. Trails wind through rock formations, between creeks and wildflower-dotted hillsides. The unique terrain is home to plants that grow nowhere else, such as the Tiburon Mariposa Lily, blooming from late May to mid-June. Hiding among rocks and grasses, it is sometimes easier to spot the long, shiny bronze leaf than the blossom.

2. The Yolanda Trail in Ross Valley (Mount Tamalpais)

Beginner | 5.15 Miles

Located on the north slope of Mount Tamalpais and across from the Golden Gate Bridge, the Yolanda Trail is easily one of our favorite spring wildflower hikes. It’s a popular hike not only with hikers but with trail runners and equestrians, too. Sorry, no mountain bikes allowed! As the flowers bloom, you’ll be able to see everything from sticky monkey flowers and white milkmaids to Indian paintbrushes.

3. Estero-Glenbrook-Muddy Hollow Road Loop (Point Reyes National Seashore)

Beginner-Intermediate | 7 Miles

Another great hike for spotting spring wildflowers is the Estero-Glenbrook-Muddy Hollow Road Loop. This area was actually burned back in 1995 by the Vision Fire, and now there are bishop pine trees growing where there used to be open grassland. Compared to other areas of the park, this trail isn’t as frequented, so you might just get all the flowers to yourself. Keep an
eye out for clovers, irises and California buttercups.

4. Chimney Rock (Point Reyes National Seashore)

Intermediate | 1.6 Miles

Seeing a trend here? Wildflowers bloom in many areas of Point Reyes, as you’ve probably noticed, but the best viewpoints are in the woodlands, grasslands, beach dunes, scrublands and even salt marsh edges. Therefore, Chimney Rock is one of the prime locations for spotting the most vibrant varieties. The view from the top
is pretty spectacular, and if you’re lucky, you might even see some elephant seals lounging lazily on the beach.

5. Coastal Trail (Marin Headlands)

Advanced | 5.5 Miles

This challenging but rewarding hike leads from Rodeo Beach to Hill 88 in the Marin Headlands. Since you’re essentially hiking up the hill, expect a steep incline. Once at the top, take a breather and enjoy the bird’s-eye views of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. On your descent, head down via the Wolf Ridge Trail and Miwok Trail. You’ll pass Rodeo Lagoon and will see lots and lots of colorful wildflowers, too.

RULES OF THE ROAD

As tempting as it might be to reach out and pick a wildflower, doing so is strongly discouraged. The best policy is to admire them with your eyes and not with your hands. After all, there are several rare and endangered plants in Marin, like the lady’s slipper orchid and the adder’s tongue. That said, they are rare for a reason, so it’s unlikely you’ll stumble upon them.

PLACE Magazine


Get Your Steps In — The Best Staircases with a View in San Francisco

To get the best views of our gorgeous city and the surrounding landforms, the best direction to go is UP. There is no better way to make a quick ascent than via one of the city’s many stair-ways. The Lyon Street steps and 16th Avenue staircase can get crowded.

Here are some hidden gems to get your heart rate up. Be ready for views that will take your breath away.

FILBERT STEPS (Telegraph Hill)

Be warned: these steps are no walk in the park. Starting at Levi’s Plaza, you’ll make your way past homes tucked into the greenery. For those who need to catch their breath, there are several lookout points for well-deserved breaks. The stairs bring you to the base of Coit Tower, where postcard views of North Beach are your reward. Keep your eye out for the wild parrots that are known to make an appearance in this area if you are lucky enough.

JACK EARLY PARK STEPS (Russian Hill)

North of Telegraph Hill, in the Russian Hill neighborhood, you’ll find the charming and secluded Jack Early Park. The stairway, made with donated railroad ties by Jack Early in the 1960’s, leads up the lush slope to a hidden patio area with seating for two. There, you will find one of the best sweeping views of the city, Bay, Alcatraz and beyond. Jack Early Park is a beloved setting for picnics, a popular proposal spot, and has even been the location for some (small) weddings.

LINCOLN PARK STEPS (Sea Cliff)

One of the smaller staircases in the city, this vibrant mosaic masterpiece marks the end of California Street. The 1 Muni line will take you right there if you are keen on using public transportation. Land’s End is walking distance from these steps if you are up for a scenic hike along the coast with some of the best uninterrupted views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

ESMERALDA STEPS (Bernal Heights)

The Bernal Heights neighborhood boasts the most staircases in the city. The Esmeralda steps offer a wooded walk between the houses nestled into the hillside. You’ll pass the Winfield Street slides, a long double slide enjoyed by children and adults alike. Wildflowers line the way to the top, where the stairs open up to the bright, wind-whipped Bernal Heights Park, with superb city views.

PLACE Magazine


Seasonality: How Market Dynamics Change by Season

Seasonality typically affects inventory levels, buyer demand and median home prices, often in very significant ways – as is illustrated in the following charts. However, it is not the only factor affecting market conditions and trends – general economic conditions and financial market movements, new construction projects coming on market, significant changes in interest rates, local stock market IPOs, natural and political events, and other factors can and do impact the market as well, sometimes quite suddenly.

It is also worth noting that new listings and new sales occur every month of the year – and sometimes, depending on prevailing market conditions and the specific property, buying or selling during the slower periods of the year can be the smart strategy. For buyers in particular, though the supply of active listings is somewhat lower during mid-late summer and mid-winter market slowdowns, and the number of new listings dwindles, the competition for homes is much lower as well. There are many more price reductions and increased seller willingness to negotiate list prices. The result is that buyers can sometimes make the best deals during these periods: Many of the charts below illustrate this opportunity.

Because of the significant summer and winter slowdowns, it is difficult to come to definitive conclusions about the direction of the market during July/August, and December/January. One really has to wait for the autumn market to begin in mid-September with the typical surge of new listings, or the spring market to begin in late February/ early March to get a sense of where the market may be heading next.

The devil’s always in the details, and the details of the market change constantly. Still, there is a typical and dramatic ebb and flow to the level of activity in the market that correlate with seasonality, and that is what this report explores from a variety of angles.

All our Bay Area real estate market analyses can be found here: Paragon Reports

Fluctuations in median sales prices are not unusual and these fluctuations can occur for other reasons besides changes in value, such as seasonality; inventory available to purchase; availability of financing; changes in buyer profile; and changes in the distressed and luxury segments. How these statistics apply to any particular property is unknown without a specific comparative market analysis. All data from sources deemed reliable, but may contain errors and is subject to revision.

© 2018 Paragon Real Estate Group


SF Multi-Unit Residential Income Market

The Multi-Unit Residential Property Markets
of San Francisco, Alameda & Marin Counties

This report generally separates out the 2-4 unit and the 5+ unit apartment building markets, since they typically have different dynamics and values. All the statistics below are broad generalities covering a wide variety of buildings of very different location, size, quality, condition, tenant profile, income and income potential. Some of the charts pertain to multiple counties, while later in the report, we drill down on supply and demand statistics specific to San Francisco. Note that some of the analyses track the last 12 months of sales, while others have a final data point reflecting only 2018 YTD sales.

As a political update, Proposition F passed in San Francisco, providing city tenants facing eviction proceedings – for any reason – the right to taxpayer-funded legal representation.

According to an analysis by Socketsite, the SF Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) program has so far resulted in 691 permit applications to add 1,244 such units to existing buildings. However, only 179 permits for 306 ADUs have so far been issued, and only 28 ADUs have been completed. 90 permit applications for 151 ADUs were filed in Q1 2018. There has been talk of the Planning Department simplifying the process and easing the requirements for the construction of ADUs, since current regulations have clearly been counter-productive to the goals of the program.

Bay Area Residential Rents

San Francisco Commercial Rents
Not so long ago, there were worries that a glut in new office buildings would hit market putting downward pressure on office rents, but every new building has had its space snapped up by major high-tech companies. This is pertinent to the apartment rental business since all those office buildings being leased are presumably going to be filled with additional, well-paid employees, maintaining pressure on apartment rents. This will help balance new apartment buildings coming on market as will be discussed later in this report.

Additional Chart: Median List Rent per Square Foot

Sales, Values & Trends by County & SF District

5+ Unit Buildings

2-4 Unit Buildings

San Francisco Market Overview Trends

Sales, Values & Statistics by Submarket
from our Q1 2018 report

Building Cranes Everywhere

Approximately 68,000 housing units are now in the SF new construction pipeline. Consistent with the trends in recent years, the percentage of rental units under construction is higher than for those units intended as condo sales.

Just because a project is in the pipeline does not guarantee it will be built as planned. Plans are constantly being added, changed and abandoned. New housing construction is extremely sensitive to changes in economic conditions.


Q2 2018 Sales of San Francisco 5+ Unit
Apartment Buildings
San Francisco is a unique residential-investment market: the buildings are smaller and older than in most places, built in a wide range of architectural styles. The great majority of the market is under rent control, which makes upside rental-income potential a big component of valuation, even if it is unknown when that potential might be realized. Furthermore, the units are typically unlike those in suburban garden-apartment complexes, and within the city the variety in buildings and units is enormous.

In real estate, the devil is always in the details: If you are interested in further insight into the details of any of the above sales, or regarding properties currently on the market, please contact me.

Broker Performance in
Residential Multi-Unit Property Sales

According to Broker Metrics, which crunches MLS sales data, of the largest brokerages in San Francisco for multi-unit residential property sales, Paragon ranks first for highest sales volume (in both 2+ and 5+ unit building sales). Paragon represents both many more buyers and many more sellers in successfully completed transactions. We also do significant amounts of business in surrounding Bay Area counties.


Link to our latest report on the SF residential homes market
All Paragon market reports can be found here


It is impossible to know how median and average value statistics apply to any particular apartment building without a specific, tailored, comparative market analysis, which can be provided upon request.

These analyses were made in good faith with data from sources deemed reliable, but they may contain errors and are subject to revision. Statistics are generalities: This is especially true for multi-unit properties, with the enormous range of property types, sizes, conditions, circumstances, qualities, financial data and locations. We are often dependent upon listing agents for income and expense details, which can be of varying accuracy. A percentage of investment property sales are not reported to MLS, which sometimes limits our ability for more comprehensive data analysis. All numbers to be considered approximate.

© 2018 Paragon Commercial Brokerage



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