Imagine the Wild West not yet discovered and you get a glimpse into what is happening in Mission Bay. Just south of downtown and the Giants' ballpark, Mission Bay is where the sun always shines and there's not a San Francisco hill to be found. The Bay and Oakland hills sit directly east, the sun shines down over Twin Peaks from the west, and wide streets with warehouses and retro condominiums line the newly-laid Third Street rail. Mission Bay holds promise for those looking for the next gentrified neighborhood with a living population of one third biotech researcher, one third Hell's Angel wannabe, and the last third as a mix of hip couples and techie singles. Parking is bountiful (just secure your Club), corner restaurants and cafés are kick starting community, and the urban jungle even spits out a park or two for the neighborhood mascots of Rottweilers and Pitbulls.
Pros & Cons
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Mission Bay is perfect if you like it warm, sunny, and don't need to see a tree for miles. It's perfect for small families, motorcycle hounds, DJs looking for a warehouse work/loft/party space, and singles wanting to buy their first condo. The restaurants and wine bars are tasty and you won't find a line out the door on any Saturday night. And when the sun sets over the hills ending the day for most urbanites, you'll still be hosting your friends at your rooftop or back deck BBQ.
Mission Bay residents are an eclectic bunch. Artists, dot.commers, metal heads, scientific researchers, and hip couples with a short-haired dog. Since the only schools nearby tend to be public and in Bayview/Hunters Point, there aren't as many families as there are in neighboring Potrero Hill. The area is up and coming as far as restaurants and community goes, since most of the surrounding streets are either warehouses in transition or the new UCSF Biotech buildings. But condos are coming and UCSF's recreational facility and Mission Bay library make this a great neighborhood to access what the city has to offer without the traffic and madness that comes from closer to downtown.
Since most rentals or condiminiums tend to be new or renovated lofts, cost can be on the higher end of the spectrum, keeping this neighborhood as one that targets young professionals with a higher salary.
Little or no social scene may be a way to describe Mission Bay. But you can get a night's worth of entertainment if you scoot further down Third Street at 22nd and Tennessee Streets to the historic neighborhood called Dogpatch. This is where you can find relaxing spots for dinner, wine, or brunch, and be a stone's throw from some outdoor eateries on the new UCSF Biotech campus or along the Bay in Mission Bay.
Cafe 24 - On the new UCSF Mission bay campus, a hangout for local biotech researchers for an outdoor lunch or coffee in the sun.
The Ramp - A San Francisco tradition for Sunday morning hair-of-the-dog Bloody Mary's while you watch your cargo ship come in and wait for your eggs.
Jelly's - It must be summer and the weekend, but you'll have the outdoor patio to yourself for brunch or dance the night away like your in Cuba on warm evenings.
Piccino - the corner cafe in Dogpatch with Blue Bottle coffee and a charming dinner menu complete with woodfire pizzas.
Yield - one of the few "green" wine bars in the city, just around the corner from Piccino, with a seasonal wine pairing dinner menu.
Just For You Cafe - Strong coffee, handbaked goodies, and a shorter wait than The Ramp.
Serpentine - A higher end eatery with fantastic salads and meat lovers entrees that serves both lunch and dinner.
Dogpatch Saloon- Friendly bartenders, a decent Pinot, a jukebox, and a pool table. A perfect metaphor for this eclectic 'hood.
Philz Coffee - It's just nice to know that cute girls will make you the strongest cuppa brew, one cup at a time, all day long.
Mission Bay is an odd mix of the old vs. the new. Currently, you'll find more new, but you could be lucky and score yourself a houseboat (like my friend did) on Mission Creek or a cheaper room to rent with artists if you scour Craigslist.com. For the most part, Mission Bay is a new neighborhood, filled with luxury condominiums and university housing for biotech researchers, which doesn't equate to cheap housing, even with rent control laws still in effect.
An average 2 bedroom, 1 bath will cost you $3,000-4,000 range, which means remodeled, hardwood floors, lofts, the works. An average 1 bedroom can be found in the $2,000, but many of these high costs do include parking and a view, which isn't bad when you consider that an up-and-coming neighborhood still has car crime at night sprinkled around the area. If you're looking for the warm weather and sun, but without the high prices, hop over to Potrero Hill or the Mission for cheaper rents.
Mission Bay is the perfect neighborhood to live if you commute on the 101 or 280 South. Freeway entrances are right there as is the Caltrain station just over Mission Creek on King Street. For $45 a month, you can get a Fast Pass that gives you unlimited passes on MUNI and BART within the city, which is perfect deal for those commuting downtown on the new Third Street Rail that runs right through the middle of Mission Bay. Just make sure you allow yourself a lot of time, as this section of MUNI mimics a horsedrawn carriage. If you're a biker, you'll be happy here. Little traffic and bike lanes make a downtown commute, with no hills, a joyride on weekdays.
To the Financial District or Downtown
You can walk the 8 blocks, ride your bike/motorcycle, or take MUNI's T line on the Third Street Rail from Mission Bay. Visit 511.org to map out your door-to-door route.
To the East Bay
Train, boat, or bus is the least stressful of transportation choices to the East Bay. The Bay Area Rapid Train system, BART, easily drops you in Downtown Oakland, the Oakland Coliseum and Arena, Oakland Airport, Berkeley, Walnut Creek and Fremont, and further east for Pleasanton or Livermore work destinations. You'll have to take MUNI or ride your bike to get to BART, so use 511.org to plan your BART trip. If you do drive, expect traffic delays getting on and off the bridge in the late afternoon and the $4 bridge toll coming back into the city.
Buses regularly leave from
For commuters who moved to the City by the Bay for the Bay, and want to take their time on their commute, then I recommend the Blue & Gold Fleet or Alameda Ferry. Take a beautiful stroll past the ballpark along the Embarcadero to the
There are two choices: Bus and Ferry. Check out To the East Bay above from the Transbay terminal for Marin County/North Bay buses and the Ferry Building for ferries.
Owning a car is easy in this part of town with plentiful parking, just make sure you have the Club or a car alarm. If your car is worth stealing, it may behoove you to invest in a parking spot, which usually run in the $200/month range or might be included if you rent or own in the new loft/condo buildings.
Dogpatch may implement street parking permits for $60 a year, but for now street parking can be plentiful, yet competitive during peak hours.
You have two choices when escaping from SF: Airport shuttle or BART. If you have a friend, it's a quick trip down the 101 South to SFO. Unless you need to be at the airport between midnight and 5 AM, BART is the best alternative. Use 511.org for trip planning.
BART train and ride it into the Airport. It will drop you in the international departure terminal next to the SFO Airtrain stop. Take the Airtrain to the domestic terminals. If you take a cab, expect a $30-40 fare.
MUNI) to the Embarcadero stop. For $3.55 one-way, take a FREMONT or DUBLIN / PLEASANTON BART train to the the Coliseum/Oakland Airport stop. Jump on a Oakland Airport Shuttle for $1.50 which brings you directly to the Airport. If you are going to take a cab, expect a $55-$60 fare.
San Jose Airport
If you get the urge to fly in or out of San Jose, you have to take Caltrain to get there and back. Caltrain is inexpensive ($4.00) each way, and you won't know your way to San Jose during this slow poke. The commute time on Caltrain is at least 45 minutes. You can forget about a cab, unless you want to spend the equivalent of a week's groceries.
You'll want as much on-site everything if you move into Mission Bay, since this isn't your "pop out for the corner store and laundry" type of neighborhood like other areas in San Francisco. Always go to apartment/loft/condo showings with a
credit report, deposit, and relevant paperwork (resumes help!). With the current housing market, rentals have become more competitive (though they always are in this city). Try to find an
apartment with a roof deck to soak in the weather and fantastic views of downtown and the Bay.
For lease terms, remember that landlords are required to pay tenants interest on their deposits. Extensive credit checks, employment checks, and funds verification are normal.
Do have clean credit and solid references...it will help you rent quicker.
Do be friendly and the first to arrive or the last to get there to make an impression.
Do talk to folks in the neighborhood or on the street and ask them what they like about living in Mission Bay.
Don't live further than Cesar Chavez Street as it becomes more warehouses and less safe for now.
Walk alone at night, bring your dog so you'll feel safer.
This neighborhood is good for pets for all of the open space. A new park will go in Mission Bay along the UCSF campus, just make sure to watch the dog and leash laws. Many landlords will allow pets if you pay an extra deposit.
There are a few smaller nearby dog parks, one along Mission Creek and Espirit Park at 20th and Minnesota Streets near Dogpatch.
Kayak on the bay, take in the big sluggers, or swim in a heated pool. These are all options in Mission Bay. The San Francisco Giants baseball team play right in Mission Bay and offer outfield tickets for just $20-$25, which dip down to $10 Mondays-Thursdays.
City Kayak rent kayaks by the hour for $15-$30 and lead trips along the shoreline and Bay Bridge during the afternoons, sunset, during ballgames, or under a Full Moon.
A public basketball court will keep you busy on Minnesota street in Dogpatch.
The newly-opened Mission Bay Branch Library is modern, offers WiFi access, yoga for kids, and keeps a blog on its current events.
The new USCF recreation facility, the Bakar Fitness & Recreation Center, sports a heated pool, massage services, a full gym, and kids fitness programs.
The new Mission Bay Park System in the works will have 49 acres of open space and recreational facilities. Small parks, bike paths, shoreline walkways, sports courts, soccer fields, children's play areas are all part of the master plan for this area.
Any street around Dogpatch has a neighborhood feel and trees to balance out all of the concrete.
The rest of Mission Bay is pretty much concrete until the new park is built.
The Third Street Rail down third street doesn't make noise like the cable cars in the north part of the city, but expect more traffic along this route.
Since most of this area is built on and old landfill, you'll want to look into how seismically sound your old or new building might be.
The old Espirit clothing headquarters was renovated to create Homes on Espirit Park for those looking to buy condos.
Mission Bay doesn't have much when it comes to the basic ammenities. Your better off driving west from Mission Bay on 16th street into Potrero Hill and further on 16th to the Potrero Marketplace at 16th and Potrero Avenue. This is where you'll find your large chains (Ross, Kragen, AT&T Store) and Safeway.
Along 16th Street on this route is Starbucks and other cafes.
A new, spacious Whole Foods Market went in on 16th Street near Starbucks.
You'll also pass a World Gym, which is more for heavy lifters than 3rd Street Gym over on Third Street.
Laundromats are few and far between, so better you check your new building for on-site laundry.
Bank of America and Wells Fargo are not a far drive, where WaMu Bank sits right in Mission Bay.
If you're looking to raise a family and have walks around the neighborhood, Mission Bay probably shouldn't be your first choice for now, but once they build out the Mission Bay park system, a kids park will bring the biotech families out to play. Also, the homeless love to camp out in and around Mission Bay, but usually keep to themselves.
A complete list of public elementary schools can be found at the San Francisco Unified School District homepage. Private schools can be found at Bay Area Private Schools.