Noe Valley Voice July-August 1997

Something Tells Me We're Yuppies

By Denise Minor

We are mostly white, college-educated renters who work in retail, finance, real estate, technology, publishing, or other professional jobs. Our median household income is $41,327, about $8,000 a year higher than the city average.

There are about 1,500 businesses in our neighborhood, employing an average of five people per business.

Ninety-four percent of our total building area is residential, and the total value of our land and the properties on it is more than $1.9 billion.

Those are some of the statistics on Noe Valley released this spring by the city's Planning Department in a report called San Francisco Neighborhood Profiles.

The profiles offers comprehensive demographic, land use, and employment data on 16 neighborhoods in the city, organized by zip code. The Noe Valley/Upper Market Profile covers the part of Noe Valley and the Castro (also known as Eureka Valley) that falls in the 94114 zip code, loosely bounded by Duboce, Church, Clipper, and Market streets. The southern half of the neighborhood, from Cesar Chavez south, is included in the West Portal/Twin Peaks Profile.

Unfortunately, the demographic figures for all 16 profiles were derived from the 1990 census. But the study's land use, housing, economic, and business data come from city records for 1995 and 1996.

"For the neighborhood populations, the 1990 census is the most recent information we could get," explained planner Catherine Bauman. "But we don't believe the percentages have changed dramatically since then."

The department does have current population data on the city as a whole, however, which showed that the population of San Francisco went from 724,000 in 1990 to 750,000 in 1995, a 4.8 percent increase.

In 1990, there were about 37,000 residents in the Noe Valley/Upper Market area, 79 percent of whom were white. The remaining 21 percent gave their ethnic origin as Hispanic (10%), Asian/Pacific Islander (7%), African-American (3%), and "other" (1%).

The unemployment rate in Noe Valley was a mere 3.3 percent, half the city average. Median household income for all races was $41,327, a number that was 24 percent higher than the median income citywide ($33,413).

The 1990 census also revealed that 80 percent of Noe Valley residents went beyond high school. In fact, 52 percent had bachelor's or advanced degrees, as compared with 35 percent citywide.

Twenty-seven percent had jobs in some "professional specialty," and another 20 percent worked in executive, administrative, or managerial occupations.

As for the industries we most commonly ranked ourselves in, "professional services" topped the list at 15 percent, followed by retail at 14 percent, and finance, insurance, and real estate at 11 percent.

As for housing, 68 percent of us rent, and the rest own our homes. Interestingly, the split between renters and owners was about the same in Noe Valley as around the city (68% rent, 32% own).

The median rent in 1990, including rent-controlled units, was $777. The market rate for vacant units in 1995 was $1,099, compared with a citywide rent average of $983. A footnote at the bottom of the 1995 data states, "It is estimated that two-bedroom rental costs in San Francisco have risen by 20 percent on average since 1989."

Property values have also gone up. According to the report, the average property values in Noe Valley ($102 per square foot) were 10 percent higher than those citywide ($93 per square foot). Housing density, at 19.5 units per acre, was also substantially higher than the 11-units-per-acre citywide average.

In 1995, there were 1,424 businesses in Noe Valley and the Castro, 541 of which were offices and 560 of which were retail shops. These establishments provided about 1.4 percent of the jobs citywide. They employed an average of five workers per business, compared with an average of 12 workers per business citywide.

Our commercial establishments brought in an average of $214,000, as compared with $556,000 per business in the city overall. That was about 1.11 percent of the total gross receipts in the city. The average total gross receipts per establishment was 62 percent lower than the citywide average.

The Planning Department said it published this data for a number of reasons, one of which was to help the city develop programs to enhance the economic vitality of the neighborhoods. It also believed the information would be valuable to community, neighborhood, and merchants' groups.

Copies of San Francisco Neighborhood Profiles, the book that contains all the profiles, are available for $15 at the San Francisco Planning Department, 1660 Mission St., Fifth Floor. Individual neighborhood profiles are also available, at a cost of $4 each.