Lombard St: Cow Hollow or Marina?

Boundaries are arbitrary, but does it make sense for two different sides of the same street to belong to different neighborhoods?

District 7 SFAR Map
District 7 SFAR Map

For example, in District 7 of San Francisco, there are four neighborhoods (according to SFAR):

The north/south diving line between The Marina and Cow Hollow is Lombard St., which makes perfect sense. Does it make sense, though, that homes on the north side of Lombard are in the Marina while homes on the south side are in Cow Hollow? Given what a busy street Lombard is, I kind of have to agree with the boundary.

What about the north/south dividing line between Cow Hollow and Pacific Heights, though? The north/south boundary between the two neighborhoods is Green St., which means that homes on the north side of Green St. have a Cow Hollow MLS designation, while homes on the south side of the street have a Pacific Heights designation in the MLS. This one seems a little less obvious to me, since Green St. isn’t a particularly busy or commercial St. (that would belong to Union St., one to the north).

California St.
California St. serves as the north/south boundary between Pacific Heights (District 7) and Lower Pacific Heights (District 6). However, when the boundary line was drawn they (they being SFAR) put both sides of California St. in Pacific Heights, which means on the south side of the street the boundary runs along the fences in the backyard, not the street out front.

However, as soon as we get west of Presidio St., the north/south boundary goes back to the front side of California St., with homes on the north side belonging to Presidio Heights and homes on the south side belonging to Laurel Village/Jordan Park.

Clear as mud, right?

What are your thoughts about the SFAR map boundaries? I’ve only highlighted a few neighborhoods, but the list could go on and on…

What you need to know about Manufactured Gas Plants & San Francisco

Before gas was natural gas, it was manufactured locally. Seriously! The Marina, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Potrero/Central Waterfront were all  neighborhoods with manufactured gas plants.

Until natural gas was an available energy source, it was manufactured at local gas plants now known by the lovely acronym of MGP (manufactured gas plant). At the time (roughly 1870 – 1930) manufactured gas was considered to be cutting edge technology. Coal and oil were the raw materials, and the gas that was created helped transform city life – for example, by powering gas street lamps. Unfortunately, gas wasn’t the only thing created at MGPs and some of the byproducts are now considered to be a health hazard (think VOCs and PAHs).

Historic location of Manufactured Gas Plants in the Marina area of San Francisco
Historic location of Manufactured Gas Plants in the Marina area of San Francisco

What does this have to do with you? Believe it or not, even though these plants stopped operating by the 1930’s, the currently responsible legal party – Pacific Gas & Electric – is still doing site investigations, monitoring, and remediation where appropriate.

The manufactured gas plants in the Marina neighborhood were destroyed in the 1906 earthquake, and then buried over again during the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. So residential homes, businesses, and parks currently rest on land that was once used to manufacture gas. PG&E is emphatic that “There is no indication that PG&E’s former MGP sites pose any health concerns to the public, based on our testing, experience, and extensive review of medical literature.”

PG&E and the State of California came to a ‘voluntary agreement’ in 2010 that requires PG&E to continue monitoring and sampling for residual materials that may be present at these sites. Of the five location in San Francisco, the Marina sites are by far the most residential, so it is something you should be aware of if you are considering buying or selling a home in the Marina district. As for the other sites? The fisherman wharf site is now home to a hotel, the Potrero site is occupied by a warehouse, and the central waterfront site is under remediation (the former Potrero Power Plant).

Divisadero Street – from Zero to Infinity

One of the things I love about San Francisco neighborhoods are how wildly they vary. Say what you will about San Francisco, our neighborhoods each have a unique character, charm, and style. And while The Marina might feel like it is a thousand miles away from the Western Addition, they both have Divisadero Street in common. I’ve been wanting to drive some San Francisco streets from start to finish (or finish to start) to give you a sense of how much things can change along one street in just a few blocks.

This morning I tackled Divisadero Street, which starts in the Buena Vista/Ashbury Heights neighborhood – that’s district 5F if you are playing along at home with a SFAR MLS map – and ends at Marina Boulevard in the Marina District.


Divisadero Street runs through or touches the border of all of the following neighborhoods (I’m going to go in the order you see in the video, which actually starts at the end of Divisadero and works back to the zero block). If you are curious about learning more about any of the neighborhoods, follow the link, I’ve made videos for many (but not all) of them:

I really enjoyed making this first video of a street in San Francisco from start to finish. What other streets would you be interested in seeing from beginning to end? I’ve definitely got Folsom street on the list, but I’m sure there are plenty of other streets that would make for a fun video. I hope you enjoy watching the video, feel free to leave your comments, critiques, and suggestions below.