I have been hearing from friends who live in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco and were bothered by the very high level of housing development that was occurring. Their frustrations and anxieties were related to how the development was related to soaring rents and prices for housing, as well as to the impact on the character of the neighborhood of a large number of new residents.

Since there has been a tremendous level of condo construction in the downtown and South of Market (SOMA) areas of San Francisco in the past decade, I didn't have a sense of how this recent construction was different until I visited in July. Based on the observations from this visit, the new construction is quite different in the impact it will have on neighborhoods and quality of life.

When the construction was in downtown areas, it was in deserted industrial areas where there was no prior sense of neighborhood/community. When the new construction was in SOMA, it was in a mixed use area with a relatively weak and transitional sense of community. This new construction is of 11 large housing complexes that stretch for 10 blocks from the Castro towards downtown and will add thousands of residents to an existing, stable, and well-loved neighborhood. Much of this new housing described here is within the general neighborhood that is considered the Castro; the remainder is outside the Castro but their most accessible shopping and social areas will be the Castro.

To get a sense of the new housing, see the related album that starts with this that is closest to the Castro but one of the smallest developments: SF Castro 2299 Market at Noe (0492)

Just a few blocks away is this with 115 units:
SF Castro 1960 Market at  Buchanan (0503)

And at the other end of the 10 blocks is this with 754 units: SF Civic Center 1401 Market (0526)

Not only is there going to be the impact of a large number new residents on the neighborhood, but those residents are likely to be very different economically. SF has rent control, which is what has kept it affordable for many. However, only a small percentage of the new housing is being set aside as 'affordable', thus the majority of new housing will be sold or rented at current market rates where a 2 bedroom condo can easily be $1,000,000.

When you add thousands of new, wealthy, residents to the neighborhood, it is difficult to believe that the Castro can remain a home that caters to the values and needs of working and moderate-income lesbians and gays.