Battle Royale: Pacific Heights vs. the Marina…if you had to choose.

Since there is a nice little discussion going on about the pros and cons of Noe Valley versus Bernal Heights, we thought we’d try a couple of different posts along the same lines. We want to hear the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Marina vs. Pacific Heights…if you had to choose, and why you feel that way.

We’ll get things started with two similar 2-unit properties for your comparison:1739-41 Northpoint (left) and 2918-20 Jackson (right)



If you’d like to join the thread of Noe Valley vs. Bernal Heights, go here.

If you want us to do any areas in particular, please contact us and we’ll happily throw it up.

The next Battle Royale: Outer Richmond vs. Outer Sunset/Parkside

On deck: Haight Ashbury vs. Hayes Valley

So tell everyone you know to get ready to step up and represent their ‘hood.

Stump the Stammtisch: Bernal on Fuego or Hielo? [theFrontSteps]

24 thoughts on “Battle Royale: Pacific Heights vs. the Marina…if you had to choose.

  1. I don’t know much about the real estate in these two areas (I live in the Mission if you didn’t get that from my name, and own a 2bed condo.), but I don’t like the Marina. The vibe is just wrong. I much prefer the feel around the Fillmore area. Seems like the people are more real. I’d much rather have lunch on Fillmore around Sacramento St than on Union at Fillmore. I’d also rather buy a big house on bedrock than a square box built on landfill. But that’s just me. If I had to choose, I vote Pacific Heights.

  2. There is no comparison. Nobody in his right mind would prefer a house built on landfill to one built on bedrock. Just google for 1989 pictures of houses tipped at crazy angles in the Marina because the ground liquefied under them…

  3. Pacific Heights–because of the geological maps. The Marina–stereotypes aside–is just not a safe financial bet. Although it is really fine with me if people think it’s cool and still want to invest there. Just leaves more bedrock property available for my tiny savings to look at…

    (Also, I just like the feel and fog of the hills better than the weird sun of the Marina, but that’s just me.)

  4. Gotta go with Pacific Height for one reason alone — LANDFILL! I have friends who lived here in ’89 and their stories of watching the Marina burn in the quake are nuts. If possible — i’ll take Pacific Ht’s west of Fillmore, East of Divisadero between Green and Broadway.

  5. I think it all depends on your income and what stage in life you are Pac Heights is good for people starting families, but it’s a little pricier to buy a SFH in Pac Heights than it is The Marina, as the stock of sub $2 mil houses in Pac Heights is much less, but is also becoming much less in The Marina.

    If you are younger and can afford The Marina, I’d MUCH rather live in The Marina. You can go biking, jogging, windsurfing, kiting, and live a much more active lifestyle in The Marina as there’s much more to do, and the land is flat. Being on a hill does more to demotivate you from going outside than you may think. Marina homes may actually be the best equipped to withstand an Earthquake ironicaly, since all Marina buildings were brought up to code, and the majority reinforced after the 1989 quake.

    Also, a little know fact is that much of The Marina is NOT on landfill. I would guesstimate perhaps 40% is on bedrock. Hence, I choose The Marina up to age 40, and Pac Heights 40 and beyond.

    If you live on a Hill and have no view, that is just plain silly.

    “( – click Map of Location, then Search by Zip Code 94123), and is susceptible to liquefaction during strong earthquakes. It should be noted that several people were killed during the earthquake due to collapsing residential structures. Keeping a few days of water and non-perishable food on hand just in case utilities are disconnected due to an earthquake is a good idea, as it is in general in the Bay Area.

    There are areas in The Marina which are not on landfill. This area is referred to as The Gold Box, bordered by Fort Mason, Octavia St, Lombard St, and Van Ness Avenue. The area is called The Gold Box because of its prime location on sandstone/bedrock geology. Those who live in this area are equidistant from the shops and restaurants of Chestnut St. (Marina), Union St. (Cow Hollow), and Polk St. (Russian Hill). Furthermore, this location is close to Fort Mason, Moscone Recreation Center, and The Marina Safeway.”

  6. In terms of price/sqft…. Pac Heights and The Marina are about the same. The Marina has had an enormous ramp in price over the past several years (outperforming PH) simply due to higher demand of people wanting to live in The Marina. For those who live in the area, and especially for those who’ve lived in PH and The Marina, it is pretty clear.

    PH just has a bigger supply of more grandiouse structures, causing the absolute price paid to go up.. but still similar on a p/sqft basis.

  7. mission man couldn’t have said it better – i totally agree. also, the marina feels so removed from the rest of sf – pac heights it is!

  8. Marina…hands down. I’ve lived in both areas, and I agree with HQ. I’m under 40, love the proximity to all the great shops and restaurants. Plus the people watching is out of this world! I like the style of condos here, and the air just feels a bit “lighter”. By that I mean the people seem a bit less stuffy. Pac Heights always feels so pretentious. My vote is Marina, until I meet some hot rich guy who owns a big house with views on Broadway. Doesn’t Larry Ellison have a house up there? He’s not hot though. Just rich.

  9. From an architectural standpoint, I vote Pacific Heights. I like the homes up there, and everything you can do with them. They are big, dominating, and have that upper class feel that is so much fun to remodel and play with. It’s fun to take the old, and give it some new. As for people, I’d vote Pac Heights too. More my type of crowd, “professional”.

  10. HQ is TOTALLY wrong on one aspect of the Marina.

    ALL marina homes and building were NOT brought up to code after the ’89 quake. Some were. many were not. go check the records at the building department. The majority of homes were NOT recinforced after 1989.

    MOST of the marina is, in fact, on landfill…and subject to serious groundshaking and liquefaction during a major earthquake.

    So from that perspective of “scoring” neighborhoods, the Marina scores very low in terms of resisting a major quake.

  11. Pacific Heights of course! I’ve lived in there for 5 years now, and I can’t imagine living in another part of the city. I definitely wouldn’t live in the Marina. The streets are somewhat barren and illogically planned. Obviously, the liquification factor is a huge turn-off. Fillmore at Greenwich is such a disaster on weekends. I’m not a big fan of drunk people spilling out into the streets. I’d like to see the Marina become less of a frat/sorority extension.

    What are your favorite blocks in the area?

  12. There is large media sensationalism about the damage to The Marina during the quake. The buildings that collapsed were largely multi-unit buildings with garages. 90%+ of the buildings in The Marina were UNAFFECTED by the quake. SFHs, two story buildings, all were fine. People who’ve lived there for over 35 years all said their buildings were fine.

    If you can get a property in ‘The Gold Box” bordered by Bay, Vaness, Lombard, and Laguna…. I’m all over it though, b/c that is all bedrock south of Fort Mason. The air is ‘lighter’, and you aren’t sheltered from Cow Hollow and Russian Hill. You can easily walk down to the Ampitheatre and Ghiradelli Square too. This part of The Marina is my favorite.

    Perhaps this is part of the reason why 1330 Chestnut st is in contract for $1.495 mil in 10 days.

    Duggo – I think you’re right. I should rephrase this. Most if not all buildings affected by the quake were ‘fixed’ via reinforcement. Again, b/c the marjority of buildings were not affected.

  13. I vote Pacific Heights! The houses are so much better, luxurious, also pacific heights has trees and more single family homes too. The marina is flat and has no trees.

    Larry Ellison, Ann Getty, Trainas, Daniel Steel, Vanessa Getty, Dede Wilsey all agreed I’m sure!

  14. George – are we taking affordability into consideration at all? If not, I prefer living in Pac Heights on Broadway and Lyon! lol. But then again, Baker St. facing The PAlace of Fine Arts, or Marina Blvd. is not bad either.

    I’ve lived in both Pac Heights and The Marina. There is more life in The Marina, and I do feel more alive than in Pac Heights. I went out more in The Marina, excercised more, and just had a much better time.

    If I were to move back to PH, I would require a sweeping BAy View, since i’d be home more.

    My vote is The Marina for life.

  15. I thought this blog was supposed to be a reasonably intelligent discussion about real estate and architecture in The City. [Editor’s note: It is…we’re still new, so spread the word and get more like minded individuals here to debate with you, and please refrain from attacking other readers.]

    When I start reading silly comments by others…then I know its not. George, take a hint.

    When I start seeing “lol” then I know this is all a joke… or maybe I’m reading comments by 14 year olds on myspace.. [Editor’s note: Please see note above…we’re leaving these comments here as an example of what we don’t want to see.]

    sure sounds that way.

  16. wow, duggo. why the mean words? can’t the comments be lighthearted and fun at times? i don’t see anything wrong with george’s post but a lot wrong with yours. boo, this forum is turning into Craigslist Housing forum, slowly but surely. [Editor’s note: We’re back in town, and will do our best to moderate, and hope to God it doesn’t become another CL forum.]

  17. Hey now everyone — let’s all get along! What i love about this forum to date is that people have disagreed with each other in a cordial manner and we’ve had some great discussions. I’ve unplugged from Socketsite because the comments are typically harsh (especially for Realtors — which is ironic as Realtor ad’s are the reason the blog is running) and I don’t go near the Craigslist Housing Forum. I sense if our Editor was in town he’d remind us all to agree to disagree.

    Now back to the point — Marina people — do you have earthquake insurance? As a Realtor who hasn’t sold any District 7A property, i’ve often wondered if buyers take the extra precaution.

  18. I’m in the new $3.9 million remodeled Marina Library on Chestnut, and it ROCKS! It’s open 7 days a week, and is so sweet :) Marina is the best. Much better lifestyle, and so many flat parks to play sports and do things. No wonder prices have skyrocketed here as the newly wealthy are generally a younger crowd (google, youtube, apple, bankers etc).

    Pacific Heights is an area where it feels like you grow old and die.

  19. I wonder if there is a disproportionate amount of attention here? Gavin and two senators spoke here today at 1pm! Don’t see that in other neighborhoods. It’s aweome living down here. Hope there isn’t a big influx of people in The Marina in the future.

  20. God, I would never live in the marina. It’s flat, it’s foggy.

    It’s full of cell phone junkies, driving one handed in their little Volvo crossovers, drinking a latte from Starbucks (where else)…you get the image.

    Oh, it’s not a bad place.

    I just prefer my Noe V ‘hood over Pottery Barn on steroids.

    Our lifestyle is..well…more earthy and diverse…I’m just saying.:)

  21. Let’s get real, the only diversity in Noe Valley are the hired help. Noe is filled with pretentious rich white people. Not much different than the Marina minus the frat/sorority folk.

    [Editor’s note: We’ll just add for Randy that this is his opinion, and doesn’t appear to be a personal attack, rather a personal observation, and we thank him for the comment. So please, nobody take this or any comments for that matter, personally. Personal attacks will promptly be deleted.]

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