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San Francisco's 'Home $weet Home' dilemma

Scrawled anti-yuppie graffiti characterizes the tension in the neighborhood as high-income housing replaces older residences  

June 9, 1999
Web posted at: 10:32 a.m. EDT (1432 GMT)

In this story:

Yuppie invasion ... ?

... Or neighborhood benefit ?


SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) -- The good news for a working-class San Francisco neighborhood is also bad news for some of its longtime residents. Depending on your point of view, the city's Mission District is either the victim of -- or benefiting from -- gentrification.

The district has become a hot real estate market where developers targeting younger, upper income earners are converting older buildings into upscale condominiums.

The boom has boosted rents and led to the displacement of the poor in the largely Hispanic area.

Keating says yuppies are pushing rental rates up as they move into the Mission District in increasing numbers

374K/17 sec. AIFF or WAV sound

Yuppie invasion ... ?

Critics call it a yuppie invasion.

"Regular working folks aren't buying $300,000, $400,000 and $600,000 luxury condos," says Mission District resident Kevin Keating, pointing to a remodeled apartment building.

The buyers, he told CNN, are "brokerage house types, Silicon Valley start-up dudes, people who basically have a completely parasitic and predatory relationship to neighborhoods like San Francisco's Mission District."

To make his point, Keating cites a local house where seven people once lived. Things changed when a new owner took over. "His dad bought him this building and gave it to him, and then this guy kicked out all the people who lived there."

The neighborhood tension has led to confrontation.

Some pricey cars parked in the district have been scratched and had their tires slashed, and renovated property has been spray-painted with graffiti and had windows broken.

local home
Homes are becoming less affordable to people who have traditionally lived in the neighborhood  

Last month, police arrested Keating for allegedly promoting the destruction of certain "yuppie" businesses. The activist, who denies any wrongdoing, was not charged.

... Or neighborhood benefit ?

Real estate salesman Jeff Hand, who says he's been involved with more than 100 development projects in the area, sees the controversy from the other side.

The number of new homes created, he says, far outweighs the ones lost.

"I can count on one hand the number of people who are actually displaced, in comparison to hundreds of people who got new housing," Hand told CNN.

Business partners Brandon Chaney and Anthony Zabit also feel the criticism of Mission District newcomers is unfair. Each man bought a condominium in the neighborhood to be close to the building they bought for their high-tech firm.

Zabit says people used to complain that people migrated to the suburbs

374K/10 sec. AIFF or WAV sound

"We've brought over 110 jobs to this area, some people moved down here. We've hired people down here," says Chaney.

"It's interesting," adds Zabit, "that back in the 1980s, everyone was complaining that middle class people were moving out of the cities, into the suburbs. And now they're complaining as people are moving back."

Not everyone's complaining.

Some home owners like their neighborhood's new look. And in a city where the median price of a house is $350,000, new lofts in the Mission District going for "just" $300,000 look like a deal.

Correspondent Don Knapp contributed to this report.

San Francisco City Guide

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City Guides: San Francisco

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  • The Mission District
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  • The Mission District
The Essential Guide to San Francisco
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