Episode 4: “They Left Their Home in San Francisco”

Continuing on their quest, Curtis and Riley meet their realtor in the Mission District to look at a place in an older building that they're hoping will be more affordable than a unit in a new condo tower. A Mission mural comes to life and tells the story of how real estate in San Francisco became so valuable.

Notes for Episode 4

Speculators evict tenants to maximize profits



Murals in San Francisco’s Mission District

Thankfully there are still some of the original Mission Murals from the 1970’s



This is more comprehensive and notes the political themes of many of the murals


The Mural tells the story of how San Francisco real estate became so valuable. It’s a story told with particular details about San Francisco, but it is a history that is common to most if not all cities around the US and even beyond our borders. Cities have changed over time, and those changes have been the result of deliberate legislative and systems created to benefit the wealthy or ruling classes. There’s a lot going on in the mural scene. Here’s the complete breakdown:

  1. The person speaking is an Ohlone woman telling the story of the city that replaced the Ohlone people’s settlement here. http://muwekma.org/ Since the city grew from the waterfront on the San Francisco Bay, the map on her front starts from the eastern waterfront and spreads from there as the city grows.

  2. She talks about how cities started as centers of manufacturing and commerce. This is important because people came for all the jobs in these sectors that were serviced by the railroads and boats. There wasn’t any system of regional transit, so employers needed to have their employees living near their work. Much of San Francisco’s housing was built during this time as affordable workers housing, and Single Room Occupancy hotels (SROs) https://www.ccsroc.net/s-r-o-hotels-in-san-francisco/ .

  3. There was a huge shift in the development of cities after World War II. Much of the petroleum based technology development for and during the War enabled more people to have cars, and there were huge subsidies poured into building highways and regional transit systems like BART https://www.bart.gov/about/history ** https://ipfs.io/ipfs/QmXoypizjW3WknFiJnKLwHCnL72vedxjQkDDP1mXWo6uco/wiki/History_of_the_Bay_Area_Rapid_Transit.html ** https://calisphere.org/item/17506fbeef40a6182319b4393cac04c7/ **   . Wealthy people moved to the newly developed suburbs while poor people were left to labor in the industries that were still in the cities.

  4. A generation later, in the 1970s and 80s, the bosses who left for the suburbs built office towers as their businesses became more global with new trade agreements and technologies. During this time, manufacturing jobs started leaving San Francisco being replaced by lower wage service sector jobs. https://timeline.com/mimi-plumb-suburban-youth-7ffac795f761

  5. Starting in the 1950’s with the first waves of suburbanization and advancing for the next couple of decades were the Redevelopment projects that moved lower income people out of their neighborhoods. https://48hills.org/2017/02/racism-politics-redevelopment/ ** https://www.pbs.org/kqed/fillmore/learning/time.html ** http://www.foundsf.org/index.php?title=Redevelopment_in_South_of_Market ** https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/SF-s-SoMa-zooms-now-the-city-s-most-11303799.php **

  6. The mural talks about homes being replaced by cultural destinations with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) being an example. The entire Yerba Buena Center including the yerba Buena Center for the Arts, SFMOMA, and Moscone Center were all built where low income workers and seniors lived in the heart of the South of Market Area  https://openspace.sfmoma.org/2011/02/sequent-occupancy2/ ** http://www.foundsf.org/index.php?title=Redevelopment_in_South_of_Market . In other redevelopment areas, older Victorian style homes were razed, and residents moved out so “modern” homes could be built.

  7. During the 1980s and 90s, as industry continued to leave San Francisco and other cities, there were more and more vacant warehouses. Different programs targeted these large vacant buildings including live-work programs encouraging artists and artisans to move into industrial buildings and use them for work and residences without having to rezone them. In the late 1990’s, as tech migrated north from Silicon Valley to its adjacent city to the north, San Francisco, these new tech startups took advantage of the live-work program to build huge office complexes in old warehouses. https://sfbos.org/industrial-protection-zones-livework-projects-and-community-plans

The latest tech boom is taking over the entire financial district and south of market, parts of the Bayview, Potrero Hill. There is so much money in these new corporations that there’s even a massive building boom of new office towers. https://digital.olivesoftware.com/Olive/ODN/SanFranciscoChronicle/shared/ShowArticle.aspx?doc=HSFC%2F2019%2F05%2F25&entity=Ar02301&sk=423E6D04&mode=text ** https://www.bisnow.com/san-francisco/news/office/tech-dominates-large-leasing-activity-in-san-francisco-in-2017-77909