Is Portola and Excelsior Safe enough?

Asked by Jeremy R, Redondo Beach, CA Thu Sep 4, 2008

I currently live in LA but want to relocate to the city. The prices in LA are outrageous, and for these prices, I would rather live in the city, and ONLY the city (no burbs for me!).

Everyone has a different tolerance to crime.

People complain about gangs and crime in all of LA, but truth be told, I have NEVER had a problem with it ever. Some think Venice is gang-land, I find it a bit sketchy, but plenty safe enough for me.

How does Portola compare to Venice in LA, or East San Jose circa 1990?

Is the area getting worse, getting better, or staying the same?

If I bought in these areas, would my investment be safe after 8 years?

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9
Jeremy R, , Redondo Beach, CA
Fri Nov 9, 2012
I moved to Portola 2.5 years ago. The area is safe enough for my standards. Most areas in SF are relatively safe and relatively unsafe at the same time and Portola appears to be no different.
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, ,
Fri Nov 9, 2012
Jeremy: Your comments about your prior experience make very good points. The question of safety is one of perception v reality. If you are not touched by the crime happening in your neighborhood or city, you may feel safe, but are you really? Most of us like to think we have an
idea about where to stay away from, or who to stay away from, but in reality crime comes in three
basic groups: crimes of anger, crimes of opportunity, and drug wars.

As gang membership has exploded in line with the prison population. Respect for life, and fear of
law enforcement are gone. There is no deterent stopping violent crimes. When considering how
"safe" any urban area is, it may be more realistic to consider three things: a) is the location a hot
area for gang activity? b) the larger the population is the less chance the bad guys will pick you,
c) is your home in a secured building or gated area v an unprotected SFD?

Portola and the Excelsior are two very different neighborhoods. Niether of them would be considered specifically "unsafe," but you asked are they safe enough? It sounds like you want to
know if the market is trending up or down. The answer is whatever happens to S.F. real estate
these two neighborshoods will probably reflect that. Like most of the City, they're mostly basic
lower to middle price and size homes. No bargains to be found.
0 votes
Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Tue Sep 16, 2008
Jeremy,

The best thing to do is to contact the local police department or county sheriffs department for this information. they have access to the most accurate and up todate data and are normally willing to be helpful.
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Rob Regan, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Tue Sep 9, 2008
Hi Jeremy - overall I'd agree with you. I sold a home on Amherst off Silliman (near Silver) not too long ago and you're basically surrounded by families, and the nearby blocks seem safe and clean. My guess, from what you've been saying, is that those in your family who object to Portola are likely to object to the Mission and many of the other areas you've mentioned.... and their objection is more on "feel" or reputation, than on reality. Unfortunately I think the only thing the Crime Maps would do is ruin the entire city for them.

My concern/question for you is about the long term "investment" in Portola. Reputation and feel are hard to break. Pac Heights could have 10x the crime of Portola but it would always be much more expensive. That said, if you "buy your profit", meaning you bargain hard and buy the best "deal", your investment will be as safe as any other 8 years from now. And Portola definitely has some deals... as does Crocker Amazon and Excelsior.
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Jeremy R, , Redondo Beach, CA
Tue Sep 9, 2008
I did some homework and walked the area.

My inclination is that this area is isolated and has a terrible reputation, but does not live up to it.

With the rare exception of Noe valley, schools and crime are pretty in pretty poor shape all over the city south of Geary and east of divisadero.

Hayes Valley, Panhandle, Western Addition, Lower Haight, SoMa, Much of Petrero Hill, Mission Dolores, Eureka Valley, Haight Ashbury, inner and outer mission, ingleside, and Bernal Heights and glen park all seemed to suffer from more crime than Portola.
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Kurt Schwabe, , San Francisco, CA
Sat Sep 6, 2008
First, go to http://www.sfgov.org/police and then click on the crime map on the left side of the page. You will be surprised by what you find. Some very affluent areas of the City have some high rates of muggings and burglaries while others have problems with drugs and gangs. An address a block away from a seemingly seedy housing project might actually show very little in the way of crime compared to a ritzy, yuppy-centric neighborhood. I once walked into the laundromat at the corner of a block where I was showing a home to a prospective buyer after he asked me about crime. I asked a local doing their laundry about crime and he said "aside from the kid who was shot 6 times outside this laundromat last month it is a safe neighborhood." My client decided against the home. Do your homework, call the district police station, ask to go for a ridealong and stop a couple of strangers on the street - but use discression in doing so:) SO, in answering your question? - Head south a few blocks to Crocker Amazon. I would buy there before Excelsior and Portola any day. Great buys right now, some even with views.
Web Reference:  http://www.sfgov.org/police
0 votes
Jeremy R, , Redondo Beach, CA
Fri Sep 5, 2008
Thanks for the reply.

I forgot to mention that I lived in the ctiy for many years, my parents still live there, and I still visit all the time. That begs the question, why am I asking others about safety issues in Portola?! The reason is because my parents, and all of my SF friends, think Portola is dangerous, but I think San Fransico residents are a TOO cautious when it comes to "sketchy" areas.

I know the mission very well, and most of the city. THe mission is by far my favorite neighorhood. It has an east village/Williamsburg feel to it!!!

Unfortunately, I can't afford it, or practically anything in the city except Excelsior/Portola foreclosures. I once told myself I would NEVER live in Portola because it wasn't urban enough, but that was before it dropped 30%!

Thanks for the advice.
0 votes
Bill Eckler, Agent, Venice, FL
Fri Sep 5, 2008
Jeremy,

Contact the local police department of county sheriffs departmant. They have access to the most current and accurate infomation.

Good luck
0 votes
Rob Regan, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Fri Sep 5, 2008
Hopefully all areas in San Francisco are getting better, but the two neighborhoods you reference are down pretty significantly in price. So the best thing I can say about them is that you can do some serious bargain hunting.... and of course the better the deal, the safer your investment will be 8 years from now.

Overall, I'd imagine crime would not be too dissimilar to Venice... you get to learn which areas you're comfortable in, and which you are not. I'm a former New Yorker, so like you, almost nothing bothers me. But while almost all of SF seems safe to me, the majority of my friends argue otherwise about quite a few areas, and there are parts of Portola I know they'd avoid. But each of the two neighborhoods have a lot to look at, and you really just need to see it for yourself.

HOWEVER, I kind of look at those two areas as "sort of" suburbs to what I'd consider "city living". That may be the New Yorker in me.... SF seems like a tiny town.... but when areas like Portola and Excelsior are mostly Single Family Homes and not condos or multi-unit buildings of some kind, I don't really associate them with "city living". LA is more spread out, so you may feel differently. But if you really want the "city", on one extreme are the areas where all of the new construction is going on.... that's SOMA, South Beach and Mission Bay... quite urban with a lot more construction planned over the coming years.... a bunch of high-rises and mid-rises. Check out 81 Lansing and 555 4th for two of my listings.

Then there are lesser urban areas that I'd consider far more "city" living than Portola or Excelsior.... that includes all northern neighborhoods from North Beach to Russian Hill, to the Marina, Pac Heights, Cow Hollow and Presidio heights.... but if you think LA is expensive... these are probably more so.

More center of our peninsula (SF is a 7x7 area with water on 3 sides) are areas like Hayes Valley and Height Ashbury... definitely more "city" urban, yet some really cool and quaint areas.

Finally, you just might LOVE the Mission District. That is definitely city living, there is amazing night life, it's about as diverse of an area as we have in SF, and there are bargains to be had. It's one of those areas where my mid-western friends get uptight, but I absolutely love it because it reminds me of the NYC I grew up in.... and you might get a little bit of Venice vibe. It really has a lot going on and is very vibrant in all kinds of ways. Check out my home-finding sites at my reference site to get listings for any or all of the above.
Web Reference:  http://www.SFisHOME.com
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