Mission District or Mission Bay?
March 2, 2008 10:14 PM   Subscribe

SF residents: were money no object, would you prefer to live in the Mission District near 16th and Valencia, or in Mission Bay near AT&T Park, and why?

Coming from someone with very little direct experience with the city. I know they're very different places having just recently spent a day in both, but as a young person who has never really lived in a city before, I'm not sure which I'd prefer.

Any salient information about you and/or facts about these neighborhoods that will help me interpret your answer is greatly appreciated. I'm intentionally not saying too much about myself because I'm curious to know what you would prefer and why. Thanks.
posted by holympus to Human Relations (29 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I lived in the Mission for a while and I liked it. It was colorful as hell and enlivening. Nowadays I think if I were to live in SF again I'd want to be down around the ballpark, as you say, around the Embarcadero. I am feeling pretty done with older-styled Victorian railroad-config dwellings. Call me tasteless but the thought of being in a modern flat up high with a view, closer to the water and the foot of the bridge where you get some sense of openness... and a parking spot! That sounds good to me.
posted by scarabic at 10:24 PM on March 2, 2008

They're "very different places" if you plan to stay on the block where you live 24/7. In reality, they are not that far from each other. You could easily live in one and do stuff in the other as often as you liked. If you must be around the happenings of the Mission and you must walk everywhere, then by all means go live down there.

But before you shop for a place, be sure you know which way the wind blows. You want to be on Valencia or west of it if you can help it. That is unless you're a prostitute looking for clientele, in which case you should live within a moneyshot of Capp &18th if possible.
posted by scarabic at 10:28 PM on March 2, 2008

Response by poster: Yeah, I say very different because of what you mention about architecture, and also because one at least appears to be filled largely with white yuppies (and their favorite haunts, like Starbucks and Whole Foods), while the other appears to be filled with hipster kids and working-class Latinos. The area by the Park felt sterile and safe, while the areas around the 16th and Mission BART struck me as pretty cool and more interesting, but with patchy areas of excessive seediness.
posted by holympus at 10:52 PM on March 2, 2008

It depends. The Chronicle has been running articles indicating that the parking lot just north of the ballpark (which at 16+ acres is one of the last big open waterfront areas in SF) is slated for new development. If you plan on buying then then you may have to accept the noise/dust/traffic that this might create. 16th and Valencia is a more established neighborhood. If you're younger, enjoy nightlife, and don't mind the sidewalk smell of last night's urine on a hot summer day then that's your ticket.
posted by quadog at 10:54 PM on March 2, 2008

(sorry, parking lot just south that is)
posted by quadog at 10:58 PM on March 2, 2008

Best answer: I work next to the park and I would never want to live there. Outside of business hours, the neighborhood is really dead. I think this may eventually change, but the area is definitely still a work in progress. Currently, the character of the neighborhood seems to be a fairly bland, utilitarian sort of corporate generic wherever, geared towards the heavy flow of commuters going to/from the Caltrain station and the people that work in the various office buildings during the day (like me). Safeway. Walgreens. Panera. Two Wells Fargo branches within two blocks of each other. The UPS store. Restaurants that only open for lunch. The N and T MUNI lines will get you to more interesting parts of the city. Otherwise, you end up driving or taking taxis. If you're not a baseball fan, you'll probably come to hate people that are. On the plus side, if you commute to work on the peninsula via car or the Caltrain, you've probably cut about half an hour from your commute because you don't have to drive through the city or take public transit to the train station.

Living around 16th and Valencia would put you within pretty good reach of a lot of the stuff that gives SF its character. Dolores Park. The Castro would be within walking distance. The 22 line goes in a (relatively) straight line to The Castro/Hayes Valley/Fillmore/Marina (in that order). A plethora of excellent taquerias. I don't know. Stuff. The neighborhood isn't entirely my scene (but that's why I live in Cole Valley), but I like to spend time there on occasion and have a lot of friends that really seem to enjoy living there. The BART (or MUNI J line) will get you to/from downtown quickly. If you don't have a parking spot, parking will kind of suck.

Both neighborhoods have a Philz Coffee, so at least you have that covered.

The pigeons around 16th and Mission are oil-soaked sky rats. The ones near the ballpark are your average dirty city pigeons.

On preview: In general, The Mission is more wholesome towards the Castro/Dolores side, seediness increasing as you approach Harrison Ave. Once business hours are over, the ballpark area gets pretty deserted and bleak. Not quite unsafe feeling, but not really friendly feeling. I guess everybody's inside their condos.
posted by strangecargo at 11:51 PM on March 2, 2008

If money were no object, then you'd have a parking spot in the Mission. ;) Or you'd be able to afford to live outside, but close enough, like Noe Valley or the Castro.

Also, if glass and steel are your thing, then Mission Bay's your place. Personally, I can't stand the scale of everything there.
posted by hobbes at 1:56 AM on March 3, 2008

Best answer: If I were the type to cherish a city for its unique character and architecture and style, and willing to accept a little edginess, live next to a thriving ethnic neighborhood where anything can happen, then go for the mission.

If I just wanted modern conveniences and didnt care that my neighborhood looked just like that of many other cities, complete with the standard corporate chains, where my neighbors are LA transplants, I'd take the ballpark.

So, you can see how I feel.

Its too bad you're picking such extreme places.I have been living in and love the Bernal Heights area. Boy, do we have views. And lots of parking. And a quiet beautiful community with mostly single homes (vs. ugly apartment blocks) and still walkable to the ethnically diverse Outer Mission.
posted by vacapinta at 2:03 AM on March 3, 2008

I lived on South Van Ness close to the 24th street Bart a few years ago, and it was fantastic and as far from sterile as you can get, close to Bernal Heights too for that fantastic view. Oh, and that blues place! Ahhh, good times.


Ack, I do remember that urine stench on hot days though. Oh the humanity!

16th street area seemed a bit, dunno, seedier? But still pretty cool. I like feeling the movement of life around me, different stories playing out. I would find the Park a bit isolating. YMMV and all that.
posted by freya_lamb at 2:36 AM on March 3, 2008

P.s. South Van Ness runs parallel to Mission and Valencia.
posted by freya_lamb at 2:38 AM on March 3, 2008

I lived on 18th and Capp, which is very close to 16th and Mission up till last year. There have been some shootings in that area, one outside my front door! I believe the Chronicle has a detailed map if things like that bother you. On the other hand, there's a lot of great restaurants and shops, you're relatively close to Dolores Park and the proximity to the BART is really nice. It's a fun place to go bar-hopping and then go to some breakfast places hungover the next day.
posted by bertrandom at 2:59 AM on March 3, 2008

I can't choose for you, but my partner lived right across from the 16th & mission BART; there's always tons of homeless people, prostitutes, and people obviously using drugs. I lived down closer to 24th and mission, which was a lot better in terms of crime/seediness. Or you could split the difference but go a little west and end up near the park, where you still have your share of homelessness but a lot less of the prostitution/obvious drug use. I have no experience with the other areas in SF.
posted by beerbajay at 4:16 AM on March 3, 2008

Best answer: I lived right near 16th and Mission (on Valencia) for a while, and while I loved it back then, I'm not so sure I'd love it now that I'm older, and less tolerant of neighborhood crime and smelling urine on my way to work, and more reliant on peace and quiet and being able to sucessfully shoo kids off my lawn.

To that end, if money were no object, I'd live in Noe Valley, or Pacific Heights, or even West Portal. Maybe Mission Bay, but it was just beginning to become populated back when we lived there, so I don't really know much about how it is now.
posted by deejay jaydee at 7:54 AM on March 3, 2008

Best answer: I was never comfortable in that 16th and Mission area. There is a lot of crime there; people get shot on the street in broad daylight all the time. I didn't even like driving through that intersection.

Mission Bay is a large remote area of nothing, with streetcar access to elsewhere. I don't think I'd much like living there either.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:27 AM on March 3, 2008

Best answer: Ah, sorry, I didn't really answer your question. If money were really no object, I wouldn't live in either place, but I'd pick Mission Bay of the two. I don't like feeling like I might get shot all the time.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:29 AM on March 3, 2008

Mission District. I've lived in SF for 20 years, most of it in one part of the Mission or the other, including several years within a couple of blocks of 16th and Valencia. I like the neighborhood feel, the cafes and taquerias, the restaurants, the activity, the convenience of public transit, and the cultural mix. I wouldn't be very comfortable or happy near the ball park. It feels very concrete and sterile to me, and is a very new neighborhood, without the accumulation of small businesses and community feeling that builds up over time.

Money (or lack thereof) has always been a part of my housing decisions, however, and if money were truly no object, some of those new buildings near South Park/PacBell have some awesomely breath-taking views.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:39 AM on March 3, 2008

Best answer: If you haven't lived in SF before, and you're single, under 30, and like going out a couple times a week, you should try living in the mission first. Just get a sublet if you're not sure. You'll meet more people your own age in this area.

If you can find something in the mission proper*, you should be able to walk to absolutely everything you need. Most of the boutique-y stuff is on valencia, as you get closer to s. van ness the character is a little more 'traditional' mission. At one end of the Mission is Safeway, and at the other is Rainbow Grocery, so even large supermarkets are covered. For example, I have a friend who lives down the street from the Knockout and spends his entire week outside of work in a about two square blocks (Knockout, Argus, Cancun, etc). It's true that if you have a car, parking does indeed suck in the mission -- if the place you rent does not have a parking space you might consider getting rid of it. (the other secret is -- if it's a beater: park it near the 'weekly street cleaning' areas that are around folsom and 15th or so and move it weekly-- I did this for a year when I lived on 6th and Market. I would just hop on BART when I needed to get to my car).

I'm not super sure what people are delineating Mission Bay as these days, and I haven't really been in that area for several years, so I can't comment too much. I can say that the FiDi and SOMA are indeed pretty dead after 9pm or so, and while there are several entertainment venues they're not as walkable as you might think.

If you haven't yet, definitely walk around each area on a weekend after 9pm or so.

you didn't ask, but if you're not aware, keep in mind that right now can be a very bad time to be renting in SF -- the conventional wisdom is that there's a large group of people who would normally be in the market for buying a house who are renting instead due to the real estate situation. Where I'm at -- the east bay -- rents have risen 10% over the last year.

Also, really -- what's your budget and commute looking like? Is there a reason you're choosing between Mission Bay and the Mission? There might be other options that could be quite nice for you.

* which I'd consider bordered on the North and the South by 13th-14th to a little past caesar, and on the West and the East by Guerrero and S. Van Ness. This isn't meant as some sort of "YOU DON'T LIVE IN THE MISSION" snipe, but more of a general guideline, because there are a lot of craigslist rentals that purport to be in the Mission that are really quite far from it.
posted by fishfucker at 8:46 AM on March 3, 2008

The police department has a cool GIS application, CrimeMaps that you can use to look at events clustered around a particular location (unfortunately, homicides aren't in the map for some reason). Check it out if crime is an issue.

I think vacapinta pretty much nails it, from my perspective.
posted by jasper411 at 9:08 AM on March 3, 2008

Best answer: Of the two choices (really those are the only two choices we have?) I'd probably chose Mission Bay (near the Ballpark). It's a bit sterile right now but I really think that will change as the neighborhood matures and finds its own place. I've lived in the Mission twice now and I don't think I'll ever go back. Too noisy, too much crime, too dirty, just too much. It was fun when I was 30. It's not fun when I'm 40 - though I do go back often for dinner/shopping/etc. There are definitely parts of the Mission that are more tolerable but if 16th and Mission is the area you're considering, I'd definitely go elsewhere. The area around the BART stop is just plain nasty.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:27 AM on March 3, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks everyone..great answers. I'm going to name my first-born child 'Askme.'

I'm going to be relocating to SF for a job in about two weeks, but the job is actually right off of a BART stop in Oakland. Previous AskMe answers and advice of friends led me to look into the Mission, and I ended up seeing Mission Bay largely by accident. But I saw it, and I'm moving soon, and I'm not going to be in SF before moving again most likely. That doesn't mean I wouldn't consider a neighborhood outside of the ones that I saw--it would just take more convincing. (I've seen bits of the Mission and Mission Bay, Potrero Hill, the Financial District, North Beach, Russian Hill, the Marina, and the area just around the Civic Center. And I once ate dinner in Inner Richmond.)

The most important thing to me with respect to selecting a neighborhood is that I'm able to get to BART in a relatively hassle-free manner so that my commute doesn't turn into something that's consistently an hour or more each way. Feel free to suggest other neighborhoods--I didn't didn't mean at all to offer these two as the first and second best places to live in SF.
posted by holympus at 9:52 AM on March 3, 2008

If that's your criteria, I would suggest looking at places closer to the 24th St BART stop than 16th St. Also check out Glen Park. Noe Valley and Bernal Heights are both a short walk/bus ride from 24th St BART, and very liveable. I'm at the 24th St end of Mission now in a quiet, residential part of the Mission.
posted by gingerbeer at 10:13 AM on March 3, 2008

It's actually not bad getting to BART from Mission Bay. The Muni Metro line (assuming you mean north of the channel) has a few stops in that area and they go to the Embarcadero stop. You'd have to fight with ballpark traffic (Muni is packed on game days) when there's a home game, though. But as others have suggested, if you lived closer to the 24th Street BART as opposed to the 16th Street BART in the Mission, you'd probably be happier. But if you *really* want a BART-friendly neighborhood that's AWESOME, I'd go to Glen Park. It's both freeway and BART accessible, has a great neighborhood shopping area, and is really eclectic architecturally. But maybe don't look there because then I'll never be able to afford to move there.

And as for the potential construction-related issues with Seawall Lot 337 , referenced above, that'll be *years* from now. Development does not move quickly in SF and that one is really in the super preliminary stages.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 10:40 AM on March 3, 2008

If this is your first bay area experience, SF is a great place to start.

I hope this isn't unwelcome, but since you're working in Oakland consider doing some research on Oakland neighborhoods: in particular, Jack London, Lakeshore, Piedmont, and the part of downtown they're now calling Uptown. All are within easy biking distance of City Center (which is where I'm presuming you're headed to). They don't offer anything near the services and lively pedestrian activity that you can find in the Mission (and the neighborhoods trend older), but they are: 1) easier to have a car in, 2) cheaper, 3) about to be huge. Seriously, Oakland is going to be Brooklyn to SF's Manhattan in the next few years; you can get in now and be in the know before anyone else. Of course, living in Oakland pretty much means you'll rarely do anything in the city (you can, but you have to be really pro-active about getting over there), so if you already have city friends, or want a real 'big city' experience, forget about it for now -- I love Oakland, but it is definitely not SF (and in some ways, that's a good thing), so it really depends what sort of living experience you are looking for.

One other note: SF to City Center is probably going to run you a 45 minutes to an hour door to door (I did a West Oakland to FiDi commute last year and that's about how long it took me on average). I get to my work (around city center) from my house (around jack london) by bicycle in about 10 minutes.
posted by fishfucker at 11:54 AM on March 3, 2008

I live not that far from 24th and Mission and really like the area. If I were you I would look around there or or slightly southwest of 16th and Mission - 18th and Valencia or so. Then you're close to Dolores Park and all the cool restaurants and stores in that part of the Mission. I work in Mission Bay and there's still not that much going on down here. If you're willing to live 10-15 minutes walk from BART you can live on the border with Noe Valley, where things get a lot nicer compared to the heart of the Mission.
posted by pombe at 11:58 AM on March 3, 2008

You should definitely check out Glen Park. It's a cute little neighborhood with a tiny shopping area including some great restaurants, and the BART stop is right there.
posted by jasper411 at 1:05 PM on March 3, 2008

I'm a couple blocks from the 24th Street BART, and I think it's a great neighborhood. I would also recommend living on the west side of Mission Street, west of Valencia if possible. It doesn't take more than 20 minutes to walk up to 16th if you want to go in that direction.

I've also lived at 16th and Valencia and while it was a bit more exciting in terms of bars and restaurants, there's also a lot of drugs and prostitution happening there.
posted by bendy at 2:05 PM on March 3, 2008

I agree wish fishfucker about the 45 minute commute. I live in Downtown Oakland about 9 minutes from 19th st Bart. I commuted to 24th and Mission, and my job was at 22nd and Guerrero. 45 minutes. Also agree that the area around 24th st is a better locus than 16th, but it's not unusual for people trying to move into the Mission to have a several month househunting ordeal.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:00 PM on March 3, 2008

Ooh, yeah, live in Oakland then. Lake Merritt area. Or Rockridge. Cheaper and faster.
posted by salvia at 10:30 PM on March 3, 2008

I live two blocks from Mission and 16th - right on Mission. It's loud sometimes. and definitely more urban than what I was used to in Chicago. I've never been bothered though, other than people asking me for money sometimes. I've certainly never seen a shooting or such...I think that may be a little paranoid. I think that if you don't go looking for trouble you're generally fine. It's alive, bright, and vibrant. Mission Bay is pretty sterile...without much diversity in people or architecture. Come to the Mission. :)
posted by gleea at 3:32 PM on July 12, 2008

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