How safe is the lower haight?
January 21, 2007 2:56 PM   Subscribe

How much should I worry about crime when buying a place in the Lower Haight?

I'm seriously considering a condo in Lower Haight, like a block and a half from Haight and Fillmore (away from the projects). I know crime is an issue around there (and yes I know there was a double murder last week) but I don't think it's that bad. Am I being a moron? Should I be more concerned about safety?

In the past I've lived in places like north oakland and lower east side in NYC. So I'm not totally clueless. Then again, I know that I don't want to buy a place in an area I'm going to dread going outside at night.

I've looked online other places, but I know there's a lot of San Franciscans on MetaFilter and a lot less tendency to hysteria or head-in-the-sandism here that other online communities., so I thought I'd check if anyone had advice here.

(Oh and yes I have looked around at the SF Crime Maps web page)
posted by aspo to Home & Garden (17 answers total)
I lived above the Walgreen's on the corner of Haight and Fillmore for a year. It's definitely dicey, but I was never attacked or threatened.

If your condo faces the street, you will hear crackheads yelling late at night.
posted by trip and a half at 3:20 PM on January 21, 2007

I lived on Waller and Steiner for about two years and spent a lot of time on Haight (last year, so not so long ago). There is definitely some sketch elements (especially going east away from Filmore) on Haight, but I've never felt unsafe in the neighborhood. Also, I didn't find the need or desire to even go to the more sketchy block (half block?) anyway as there isn't much going on there (for someone buying a condo at least) in the first place.

Honestly, I was more annoyed/concerned by the two guys that sat on my stoop/porch drinking their coffee from next door (Bean There) and smoking...... and they were yuppie-ish . . .
posted by Boydrop at 3:43 PM on January 21, 2007

Oh, I also meant to say that with all that said, if I found a condo in the Lower Haight that I could afford, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.
posted by trip and a half at 3:53 PM on January 21, 2007

I got robbed on the street right at Haight and Fillmore. My friend's car got broken into and had $2,000 in camera equipment and a laptop (that he should NOT have left in his car no matter WHERE it was parked) stolen at Haight and Webster. I don't think I would fear much for my personal safety if I lived there, and it make become more gentrified, like many other areas of San Francisco, in the next few years. Still, I was _just_ down there today, and the presence of "thug" elements is plain as day. I'd rather not have to deal with that every day for the next n years.
posted by autojack at 4:35 PM on January 21, 2007

I lived uphill at Page & Divisadero for a while, and walked through that area regularly at all times of the day & night. It is dicey, but I wouldn't hesitate to live there. It's central and busy enough to get a wide mix of all kinds, so there will always be non-sketchy people around to balance it out. You're never going to find yourself in a situation where you're all alone in a bad neighborhood, which is significantly more worrying. I moved to West Oakland immediately afterwards, and walking around was a lot more tense when there weren't a lot of people out.
posted by migurski at 6:09 PM on January 21, 2007

I currently live at Oak & Pierce. It feels relatively safe to me - my fiance feels a bit differently. There is definitely a decent crime rate there, and it can be a bit shady at night. I have been there for @ 1.5 years and have never felt threatened.

There was a shooting @ Haight & Pierce within the last two weeks - one drug dealer killing another. The surrounding areas are distinctly dicier. I wouldn't say you're a moron, but you definitely should be mindful & use common sense in the area, most especially at night.
posted by gnutron at 7:08 PM on January 21, 2007

I live just on the other side of Stanyan. I don't particularly enjoy walking through that particular area centered on Haight and Fillmore - it's like a little 4-block-wide zone which for some reason seems to concentrate a bad element. I prefer just to give the whole area a wide berth.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:37 PM on January 21, 2007

so much of living in a questionable neighborhood seems to really depend on one's own constitution, and general ability to ignore shit...

i moved into a somewhat sketchy neighborhood (not in SF) a few months back, great deal on a house....

I was kinda freaked the first few weeks, but now am growing more just have to think about what you'll encounter EVERY SINGLE DAY or very often...pan handlers, looking over your shoulder, avoiding being out alone late at night on the street etc....

i'd just suggest hanging out in the area as much as you can, at all hours of day and night....that's a great way to get a feel for what it'll be like to LIVE there....

so, yeah, spend some time in the neighborhood, really get a feel for it, and be honest with yourself and what you're willing to feel comfortable with
posted by Salvatorparadise at 9:52 PM on January 21, 2007

Far worse than the crime in that neighborhood is the fact that it's served by the 22-Fillmore, one of my least favorite Muni routes. Yeah, it's a slightly sketch neighborhood but certainly not the worst.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 11:07 PM on January 21, 2007

This isn't really an answer, so feel free to delete it. You'll probably hear lots of answers about how it's "OK" or "it's not that bad" or "don't believe the hype."

And sure, it might be hype. But ... why would you want to buy a condo in a part of town that many consider bad in the first place? You already think you might be uncomfortable. That'll suck if it's true, and if it's not, then you're still at square one. Trust me, you won't move in and discover that it's GREAT and everyone is totally wrong about the area. ;-)

At best, you'll move in and discover that it's merely OK. So, is that where you want to live? What happens when you try to sell it? Then you'll be the one trying to explain to potential buyers that "it's not that bad."

You can get robbed anywhere, of course, but you've done the research and you've concluded that it might be uncomfortable. So, move on. Get the place that you really want, not the one where you're wondering if you made the right choice.
posted by frogan at 11:25 PM on January 21, 2007

I lived at Oak and... Either Webster or Filmore back in summer of 2000. I never felt unsafe in that neck of the woods at all (male, 6'2, pretty scrawny at the time), but I remember it felt *very* much shadier when you headed a bit further north. I was coming home at 2 in the morning most days (ahh, the dotcom days, and getting paid hourly) and while every once in a while I would see groups of shady characters loitering around, I was never hassled. YMMV, especially 7 years later. I absolutely loved all the cool shit in the area though, and it was great as far as access to MUNI went.
posted by antifuse at 6:44 AM on January 22, 2007

One might wish to buy a condo in a slightly sketch neighborhood because it's affordable, whereas condos in nonsketch neighborhoods are out of sight for most normal people. And you can still get mugged and get your car broken into in Pac Heights.

I've lived in various sketch neighborhoods (previously: Mt Pleasant in DC; currently: the Mission) and in my experience, as you become a regular feature in the neighborhood, the less hassle you'll get - you'll get to know the people (corner boys, homeless folks, merchants, bartenders) and they'll get to know you. In the Lower Haight, your worst problem is likely to be lack of street parking, so I hope your condo comes with off-street parking, if you've got a car.

Spend as much time in the evenings there as possible (it's an excuse to hang out at Toronado!), and see how you feel.
posted by rtha at 9:01 AM on January 22, 2007

For me, the dividing line is Fillmore. I'd probably feel OK living on Haight on the west side of Fillmore; one block east and I'd bail. I walk through that area all the time (I live in Hayes Valley), and there's just really a weird, immediate, tangible change that happens when I cross Fillmore. (Partly, I'd guess, because the establishments change from hipster bars and Indian food joints to pot places and housing projects.)

I can't speak to actual safety, really (it sounds like you have the numbers in front of you on that, anyway), but just in terms of feeling safe and feeling comfortable walking around at night, I'd stay west of Fillmore.
posted by occhiblu at 9:18 AM on January 22, 2007

I lived on Haight & Divisidero for a year. And reading the comments in the thread so far, the area seems pretty much the same as when I left it - a little sleazy, with some sketchy elements, but perhaps not overly bad. I know I witnessed a lot of drive-by drug drop-offs right on the corner (paper bag thrown in, paper bag thrown out).

But that was in 1985.

I wouldn't be banking on gentrification any time soon.
posted by Sk4n at 12:32 PM on January 22, 2007

Some of the typical SF do-gooder forces in Hayes Valley have been pretty successful at getting rid of some of the drug dealing around here (working actively with the DA's office and the police, who have seemed really receptive, to the point of attending neighborhood meetings and giving out their cellphone numbers), and they've at least said that they don't simply want to dump the drug problems and vandalism and crime to other neighborhoods or street corners, but to work to eliminate it completely.

I've been getting Hayes Valley Safety Committee emails about getting volunteers to help walk kids in the Lower Haight to school, for instance, and I know the committee has been reaching out to the management and security companies of some of the Lower Haight projects, as well as to the neighbors in those areas, to try to organize a slightly bigger neighborhood watch, basically. I think they're using the fact that Hayes Valley is getting whiter, and richer, and more professionally connected -- so, more able to get the attention of the DA's office and Mayor's office and police department -- to do some good for the entire area. (And they seem to be doing a decent job of not just wanting to sanitize and suburbanize everything, but actually keep the economic and racial diversity but get rid of some of the more egregious crime and make the area safer for kids.)

Whether they'll succeed, or how that might look if they do, I'm not sure. But there is some community attention focusing on that area, in what I think are good ways.
posted by occhiblu at 12:50 PM on January 22, 2007

My friend's husband says: "the only thing worse than spending $600K for a tiny house is spending $500K for a tiny house with bars on the windows."

That said, it wouldn't stop me. Good luck either way!
posted by salvia at 10:05 PM on January 22, 2007

This is totally late, but thought you might find this helpful, if you hadn't already seen it. A recent neighborhood meeting on crime in the Lower Haight with Heather Fong (egh...), the district 5 supervisor, etc... might be good to get a sense of what's going on there...
posted by Boydrop at 10:00 AM on February 1, 2007

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